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Pension Fund Awarded $1 Million Grant

*For Immediate Release*

Contact: Matthew Rosine

(317) 713-2718

mrosine@pensionfund.org


Pension Fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Inc., 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.

Pension Fund's Endowment grant will fund the launch of an "Excellence in Ministry" pilot program intended to alleviate financial stresses that impede pastoral leadership of clergy and congregations they serve. In partnership with Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) seminaries, regional ministries and related institutions, the Excellence in Ministry program will offer financial literacy events to clergy, spouses, congregational leaders and seminarians. A limited number of financial relief grants will also be made available for select program participants. Program details continue to be finalized and will be made available at www.pensionfund.org/eim.

Through addressing financial literacy issues and alleviating financial pressures of clergy, this program aims to:

  • benefit congregations by having more effective leadership and less turnover
  • help pastors remain and be more effective in ministry over a longer period of time
  • enhance the financial health and wellbeing of pastors and their families
  • benefit the church by having pastoral leaders who are more engaged in the financial affairs of the church

"The Excellence in Ministry program aligns with Pension Fund's mission and long history of serving those in ministry both spiritually and financially," said James P. Hamlett, President of Pension Fund. "We hope to relate to a new generation of ministers at a time of their greatest financial need."

Pension Fund 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.

Each program is customized to the needs of pastoral leaders in each religious tradition, but 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
  • develop strategies that help young pastors pay down or eliminate educational debt
  • create new scholarships so that seminarians borrow less while in school

"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.

Pension Fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Inc. provides pension, health care, and retirement savings programs for clergy and other employees of congregations, regions, general ministries, and other organizations affiliated with the Stone-Campbell/Restoration Movement. Pension Fund manages over $3 billion in net assets on behalf of those serving in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and related international ministries.

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