$1 Million Grant Will Help CRC Pastors Find Financial Shalom
The Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) will be launching a three-year project aimed at improving financial security and shalom for its pastors.
The project was made possible through a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders.
“Pastors, especially those just beginning in ministry, accept low salaries as part of their commitment to God and to church,” said Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at Lilly Endowment.
“Many enter ministry with significant debt from their undergraduate and seminary years and often have little financial resiliency when financial emergencies arise.”
To address this need, Lilly Endowment Inc.’s national initiative is supporting a variety of religious organizations across the United States.
“These organizations understand the importance of the financial well-being of pastors and the implications for the congregations they serve,” said Coble.
The CRCNA will use its grant to help pastors in both the U.S. and Canada through a project known as the Financial Shalom Project.
Before applying for the grant, the CRCNA surveyed its pastoral leaders in April 2016. It found that many CRC pastors struggled with anxiety about their finances, income, loans and debt levels. They also expressed worries about the future because of their finances.
“It became clear that many Christian Reformed pastors are in need of financial shalom,” said John Bolt, Director of Finance and Operations for the CRCNA.
“This will require both assistance for immediate financial needs as well as long-term training on financial management. I like to think of this as both giving pastors a meal today, and teaching them to fish.”
The “give them a meal” aspect of the project will support pastors who require immediate financial relief. This will involve small, one-time grants from the Financial Shalom Fund to be used for such things as paying off student loans, paying for Christian day-school tuition, and covering unexpected medical expenses.
The “teach them to fish” aspect of the project will aim to increase the long-term financial literacy and management skills of pastoral leaders by offering a variety of resources, tools, and training programs so that the pastor and congregation fully embrace their role as stewards of the gifts God provides.
“The grant is a true blessing to the Christian Reformed Church” said Dr. Steven Timmermans, executive director of the CRCNA.
“We know that financial and economic struggles can often impair pastors ability to lead their congregations effectively. We are committed to addressing this need and improving the financial health and shalom of all of our pastors. With the Lilly Endowment’s help, we will be able to provide short term assistance, education, and long-term financial planning that will help CRC leaders well into the future.”
The Financial Shalom Project will officially launch in February 2017. For more information about eligibility requirements and how to apply, check out www.crcna.org/financialshalom, which will be available in February.