Terry Shue is director of Leadership Development for Mennonite Church USA.
Every once in a while opportunities arise which we would do well to take advantage of. Such is the case with the funds Everence has received from the Lilly Foundation for pastoral financial assistance.
This grant, for both Conservative Mennonite Conference and Mennonite Church USA pastors, is to provide educational opportunities on financial matters and matching funds grants for financial assistance to our pastors.
Conference ministers are working in their local context to design educational events for pastors about financial issues including tax preparation, housing allowances, retirement and other topics. We hope that these events will be different from other church meetings and (dare I say it?) we’re encouraging conferences to make them both fun and memorable! I hear a few conferences already have events planned. Soon these learning events will be available for all of our local area conferences.
An oversight team of five persons from Mennonite Church USA will administer the part of the grant which provides matching funds for pastoral financial assistance. Joining Beryl Jantzi from Everence and myself are Marco Güete, conference minister from Southeast Mennonite Conference, Emiley Shenk from Toledo (Ohio) Mennonite Church, and Mary Nitzsche, Pastor at Blooming Glen (Pennsylvania) Mennonite Church.
Individual grants will be for a maximum of $5,000. Of this total amount $2,500 will come from the Lilly fund and the matching $2,500 from the local congregation.
These grants can be used for debt reduction in a variety of areas including student loan debt, retirement preparation, medical debt and other financial concerns. To cover the income tax implications of receiving this grant, both the local congregation and the Lilly fund will include an additional 20 percent which will go directly to the pastor.
We are encouraging congregational leaders to have conversations with their pastors about debts they may be carrying and encourage the pastor to apply for this grant with the congregation’s support. Or if you are a pastor who is interested in applying for this grant, download the documents here and talk it over with your congregational leaders to explore the options you may have to meet the required matching funds locally. It is both the intention of the Lilly Foundation, and our belief at Mennonite Church USA, that helping to reduce the financial stress for pastors and their families will allow pastors to minister more effectively and serve longer in ministry.