Rising theological education costs, reductions in scholarship funding, and lower-than-average pastoral salaries are just some of the factors leading to financial challenges among ministers today. Leading a church and managing educational debt along with other personal financial obligations can be overwhelming for ministers.
In 2017, the Pension Boards-United Church of Christ (PBUCC) launched the Ministers’ Financial Vitality Initiative (MFVI), intended to increase and improve financial wellness among UCC authorized ministers. Four years later, more than 150 church leaders have experienced that relief.
“Personal financial wellness is essential to the life of the whole Church," said Joaquin Labour-Acosta, PBUCC’s MFVI Program Director. "Ministers can more effectively serve their churches if they are not distracted by overwhelming financial burdens. This program will help ministers examine and develop strategies to pay down or eliminate educational and other debt, and help them see a way out of it with confidence,” he said.
PBUCC President and CEO Brian R. Bodager added, “MFVI underscores our mission to provide the Church with valued services leading to greater financial security and wellness. This program is an excellent tool for authorized ministers to address financial challenges head-on.”
The initial phase of MFVI was made possible by a $1 million grant awarded to PBUCC from the Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. In November 2019, PBUCC was one of 20 organizations selected to receive a second $1 million grant to expand the reach of the program.
Here is a summary of the components of the Ministers’ Financial Vitality Initiative: