Fresh cycle of grants will aid ministers hit financially by COVID
Pastoral leaders in the United Church of Christ who took a financial hit because of COVID-19 can again apply for help. Among them are those who lost a call or experienced a severe salary decrease.
The Pension Boards has extended its “COVID-19: Ministers Economic Relief Grant” program for a third phase.
The program offers three-year grants — of up to $3,500 per household, per year — to pastoral leaders “harshly affected” by the pandemic. Applications are due June 15 at this link.
In announcing the extension, the Pension Boards said the pandemic’s impact on pastoral leaders “has been dramatic, and its economic effects have changed and continue to change the lives of many.”
Who can apply
“Since 2017, the initiative has provided financial and educational support to 210 active ministers across the UCC,” said Joaquin Labour-Acosta, who directs the Ministers’ Financial Vitality Initiative. “The goal has been to empower clergy to effectively meet financial challenges as they arise through the varied stages of a pastoral leader’s life and career.”
To be eligible, an applicant must:
- Be a pastoral leader currently serving or actively seeking to serve a UCC congregation.
- Have ministerial authorization and good standing in the UCC.
- Be endorsed by the Association and/or Conference in which ministerial standing is held.
In addition, the applicant must be at least one of these:
- A minister who lost a call that represented the only source of household income — typically, a full-time pastor of a small-membership congregation or a new church start.
- A minister who lost a call that does not represent the only source of household income — typically, a two-income household and/or bi-vocational pastors of small-membership congregations or new church starts.
- A minister who did not lose their call but experienced a significant decrease in salary and whose salary represents the main source of household income — typically, a full-time or bi- vocational pastor of a mid-to-large membership congregation.
Recipients will receive midterm and year-end online surveys to help measure progress in overcoming pandemic-related financial challenges.
How grants are funded
The program is funded through a Pension Boards collaboration with the Lilly Endowment and its National Initiative to Address the Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders.
“We are actively raising funds to continue this program beyond the Lilly Grant through the $3 million Securing the Future joint campaign of the Pension Boards and the UCC’s national setting,” said the Rev. Andy DeBraber, generosity officer with the Office of Philanthropy, Technology, Identity and Communication. “This will create an endowment to run this program of clergy debt elimination and financial literacy for years to come.” He said people can contribute at support.ucc.org by choosing “Securing the Future — MFVI” in the drop-down menu.
“Sustaining initiatives such as this economic relief grant — along with our other initiatives in support of UCC pastoral leaders — remains one of the Pension Boards’ top priorities,” Labour-Acosta said.
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