Everence receives $1 million Lilly Endowment grant to assist pastors
The Endowment is giving $28 million in grants through this initiative
GOSHEN, Indiana – Everence®, through its affiliate Mennonite Foundation, has received a grant of $1 million as part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. The initiative supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they address the financial and economic struggles that can impair the ability of pastors to lead congregations effectively.
The Endowment is giving $28 million in grants through this initiative. The grants are part of the Endowment’s commitment to supporting the pastoral leadership development of clergy serving in congregations across the United States.
The program is available to pastors of churches affiliated with Mennonite Church USA and Conservative Mennonite Conference. Roughly half of $1 million granted to Everence will be available as matching funds to directly help pastors who are in need of immediate financial assistance. The remainder of the money will be used to help fund educational programs to help pastors learn how to better manage their own finances and to start or add to retirement savings plans through Mennonite Retirement Trust.
“We are excited about the potential of this program to improve the lives of our pastors,” said Beryl Jantzi, Program Director for Everence. “The concern of Lilly Endowment is that too many pastors are leaving the ministry due to personal financial concerns. Our hope is that this program will help alleviate financial pressures so that pastors can continue to follow their calling to the ministry.”
Everence is one of 27 organizations taking part in the initiative, which represents a variety of Christian traditions, including Baptist, Catholic, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of God (Anderson), Episcopal, Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed and Wesleyan churches, as well as non-denominational and historic African-American Christian communities. They include denominational pension and benefits boards; local and regional denomination judicatories, such as synods and dioceses; and denominational foundations.
The programs are customized to the needs of pastoral leaders in each religious tradition. However, the programs have much in common, as they:
- Provide incentives for clergy to take part in personal finance education,
- Offer low- or no-cost financial planning and counseling,
- Match contributions for pastors and congregations that enroll in pension savings programs,
- Help pastors create emergency funds, and
- Develop strategies that help young pastors pay down or eliminate educational debt.
“Pastors, especially those just beginning in ministry, accept low salaries as part of their commitment to God and to church. Many enter ministry with significant debt from their undergraduate and seminary years and often have little financial resiliency when financial emergencies arise,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, Vice President for Religion at the Endowment. “These organizations understand the importance of the financial wellbeing of pastors and the implications for the congregations they serve.”
An additional grant to the Indianapolis Center for Congregations will establish a coordination program for the initiative that will help the Endowment track success. It will bring together leaders of the diverse programs to foster mutual learning and support and help build a network of organizations committed to supporting the financial wellbeing of pastors and their congregations.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes. For more information, visit lillyendowment.org.
Everence helps individuals, organizations and congregations integrate finances with faith through a national team of advisors and representatives. Everence offers banking, insurance and financial services with community benefits and stewardship education. To learn more, visit everence.com or call (800) 348-7468.