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Excellence in Ministry Program

With the support of Lilly Endowment, Inc., and individual donors, Pension Fund has started a Ministerial Excellence Fund. A portion of the grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., is being matched by Pension Fund donors to secure a total of $600,000 for this fund.

This fund supports the Excellence in Ministry program and provides financial relief grants to early-career pastors who complete the EIM program. Relief grants from the Ministerial Excellence Fund are $8,000 plus a $2,000 tax offset (grant amounts are subject to change).

With money from the grant, pastors can pay down existing debt (student loans, credit card debt or personal medical bills). Pastors without debt can use the money to start an emergency fund or contribute to their retirement account.

In order to be considered for the EIM program, pastors must meet the following criteria:
  • Serving in first five (5) years of ministry following ordination or commissioning

  • Credentialed minister in good standing

  • Member of a Pension Fund retirement program (Pension Plan and/or Tax-Deferred Retirement Account 403(b))

  • Full participation in Pension Fund's financial literacy program (including courses, peer group meetings, and regular meetings with a clergy mentor)

  • Submission of a household financial "progress report" every six (6) months

  • Completion of an application, including a commitment from congregational leaders to participate in financial literacy courses

Because funding is limited, not everyone who applies for the EIM program will be accepted. Grants will be awarded over 2 years, after successful completion of the EIM program each year.

Program Guidelines


To be eligible for the EIM program, an individual must satisfy all of the criteria (please refer to the Financial Relief Grant Guidelines document for the full list). If an individual fails to meet the above criteria, the grant will not be awarded. Because funding is limited, not everyone who applies will be selected to participate.

Financial Relief Assistance

Relief grants from the Ministerial Excellence Fund total $8,000*. Recipients will also receive an additional 25% to offset the tax burden of the grant, making the total gift $10,000. This amount will be distributed over a 2-year period, according to the following table:

At the conclusion of the recipient's:The eligible recipient will receive:
First Learning Event$4,000 (plus $1,000 for tax offset)
Online Learning Events
(but no sooner than 12 months after first payment)
$4,000 (plus $1,000 for tax offset)

*Grant amounts are subject to change.

With money from the grant and any matching funds from the congregation, eligible pastors can pay down existing debt (student loans, credit card debt, or personal medical bills). Pastors without debt can use the money to start an emergency fund or contribute to their retirement account.

NOTE: While it's not a condition of the pastor receiving the grant, congregations who are served by pastors in the program are strongly encouraged to raise money within the congregation to match 50% of the amount of the grant. This has the effect of increasing the grant for the pastor and engages the congregation with the purposes of the Ministerial Excellence Fund. Pastors applying for the grant should discuss this expectation with congregational leaders and request a letter of support which will accompany the grant application. The letter of support from the congregation should convey the level of confidence in the congregation to raise the 50% matching grant funds.

How to Apply

  1. Review the eligibility requirements to confirm eligibility.

  2. Discuss the attendance requirements and program expectations with your spouse (if applicable) and congregational leadership. Be sure to reserve the Personal Finance Academy on your calendar now, so you can attend if selected. If you are unable to attend the event, please do not apply as attendance is a condition of the program and receiving the grant.

  3. Complete an application and submit it by the April 15 deadline (mailed applications must be postmarked by April 15). Along with the application, include your essay and a letter of recommendation from both your congregational board chair and your regional minister. Make sure your application materials are complete before you submit them.

  4. Applications will be reviewed by the selection committee and applicants will be notified by email within 45 days of the application deadline.

  5. Upon selection, participants will receive additional information about the grant and program.

If you have any questions about the application process, please send an email to

EIM Program Application

Ready to apply? Click here to access the application.

You can submit your completed application via email or mail to:

P.O. BOX 6251