In partnership with the Conferences and Local Church Ministries (LCM) of the United Church of Christ, UCBMA has committed to support new local churches through grants that assist new church start pastors begin their participation in the Annuity Plan for the United Church of Christ or UCC Medical Plan.

Since 2008, UCBMA has approved a grant of up to $100,000 per year to be administered by Local Church Ministries’ Congregational Assessment, Support and Advancement (CASA) Team to assist new church start pastors with health, dental, and/or annuity payments.

New Church Start grants typically last three years. The amount awarded is at the discretion of CASA/LCM, with a maximum of $10,000 awarded in the first year of the grant. The amount of the grant will decrease in each subsequent year of the program. A typical grant of $8,000 for the first year will likely decrease to $6,000 in the second year and $4,000 in the final year of the grant.

Upon conclusion of a minister’s employment, the grant will end for that pastor and congregation. The pastor may continue their participation in the benefit plans at their own expense, or at the expense of the next employing church. Congregations may apply to continue the grant with their new pastor.

Application Process and Eligibility

For an application, contact the UCC Local Church Ministries CASA Team at 1.216.736.3800.

Congregations apply through their Conferences on behalf of their pastors. Applications are accepted from January through August, with an annual deadline of September 1.

Once a candidate is approved by LCM/CASA, they must then apply and be accepted into the applicable Pension Boards benefit plan in order to receive the grant.

Those who receive the grant are subject to the following criteria:
  • The minister must have authorization for ministry in an Association or Conference of the United Church of Christ.
  • The congregation must enroll the minister in the UCC Life Insurance and Disability Income (LIDI) Benefit Plan at the expense of the congregation (1.5% of pastor’s annual salary basis).
  • The minister must qualify for enrollment in the various benefit plans subject to the normal enrollment criteria of the Pension Boards.
The minister has the option to choose to enroll in all of the benefit plans (health, dental, and pension) or may choose any combination of the benefit plans.

These grants are disbursed by the Pension Boards in the form of credits applied directly to the benefit accounts of the identified clergy. The grant program is subject to annual evaluation and renewal by UCBMA.

Funding

The source of funding is the Ministerial Assistance Fund.
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