Clergy Financial Well-Being Initiative Newsletter: August 2020
Click here to view this message in a browser window.
Clergy Financial Well-Being Initiative
United Methodist Foundation of Michigan Approves Clergy Debt Refinancing Program

United Methodist Foundation of Michigan Approves Clergy Debt Refinancing Program

The United Methodist Foundation of Michigan (Foundation) Financial Well-Being Initiative for Pastors is preparing to launch a low-interest seminary debt refinancing plan for qualified pastors of the Michigan Annual Conference. The Foundation’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the loan consolidation plan and designated up to $500,000 of its own assets for the project. Goals for this innovative ministry also include improving loan recipients’ holistic wellness, strengthening their personal financial understanding and equipping them to be capable financial steward leaders of congregations. The program, which guarantees participant confidentiality, is anticipated to launch in late 2020/early 2021. The Foundation staff is currently developing the application process.

David S. Bell, president and executive director of the Foundation commented, “We are delighted to partner with Wespath on this initiative that seeks to alleviate the burdensome financial pressure experienced by so many clergy across our connection. Offering direct assistance to pastors through this seminary debt refinancing initiative is one tangible way that we can promote clergy excellence, and ultimately strengthen the mission of the local church. I’ve worked with Wespath on a variety of projects for more than a decade—we hold in common our commitment to the Church and its pastors. We are honored to be among their first partners for this strategic direction.”

Click here to view a webinar featuring the loan refinancing programs of the Preachers’ Aid Society of New England, United Methodist Foundation of Western North Carolina and Iowa United Methodist Foundation. Wespath has a source for matching funds of $1 for every $2, up to $250,000, to help initiate new debt refinancing programs. The United Methodist Foundation of Michigan joins the Florida United Methodist Foundation as the second program to utilize these matching funds.

For more information about clergy debt refinancing programs and to learn more about opportunities regarding Wespath’s matching funds, contact Ross Lundstrom, Wespath’s Manager, Church Relations.

New Resource: Saving Grace: A Guide to Financial Well-Being

New Resource: Saving Grace: A Guide to Financial Well-Being

We are pleased to announce an exciting new resource from Abingdon Press in partnership with Wespath titled Saving Grace: A Guide to Financial Well-Being.

This six-session program for clergy and congregations alike offers a practical and relevant Wesleyan guide to improving personal financial well-being. The program includes a book of devotions, a participant workbook, a special workbook edition for clergy, a leader’s guide and videos with financial experts. This resource is slated for release in early November.

In a brief video, Alex Joyner, superintendent of the Eastern Shore District of the Virginia Conference, shares his thoughts about the potential he sees for Saving Grace to strengthen clergy and congregations.

Program Highlight: Clergy Financial Education in Residency in Ministry (RIM) Programs

Program Highlight: Clergy Financial Education in Residency in Ministry (RIM) Programs

On July 20, the Clergy Financial Well-Being Initiative (Initiative) hosted a virtual panel discussion that featured how several organizations have successfully incorporated clergy financial education into residency programs for provisional clergy:

  • Micháela Murry-Nolan of the United Methodist Stewardship Foundation of Greater New Jersey discussed the foundation’s program design: “Our program was built to create a base of personal finance in the first session, and a focus on church finance in the second session. For the personal finance session, we provided incentives to attendees which were very helpful.” Incentives included a gift card, as well as funds to support a retirement plan contribution.
  • Jack Shitama, executive director at Pecometh Camp and Retreat Ministries in the Peninsula-Delaware Conference, spoke about an innovative retreat-style RIM program that includes financial literacy training.
  • Annalee Allen, associate director of ministerial services of the Western North Carolina Conference, and David Snipes, president of the United Methodist Foundation of Western North Carolina (Foundation), also spoke about their Conference’s RIM program that includes instruction on personal finance. The Foundation also offers a robust clergy debt refinancing program.

The Initiative is accepting grant proposals that include clergy financial education in the Annual Conference RIM programs for provisional clergy. To learn more, or to apply, please contact Bonnie Marden at

Program Highlight: West Ohio Clergy Learn to Get Personal Debt Under Control

Program Highlight: West Ohio Clergy Learn to Get Personal Debt Under Control

The West Ohio Conference recently created an exploratory incentive program focused on assisting clergy with personal debt reduction. Mike Kremnitzer, director of benefits and human resources, along with his colleagues, developed the program that offered practical education and guidance for clergy who attended a clergy finance workshop. Clergy who attended the workshop were offered an incentive of $100 for every $1,000 of personal debt they were able to pay off, up to $500. The results far exceeded expectations, with clergy paying off more than $150,000 of non-mortgage debt.

To explore receiving funds to create programs to support clergy financial education and debt reduction, contact Bonnie Marden at or Dale Jones, Wespath’s Managing Director of Church Relations, at

Excellence in Clergy Leadership

The Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship

The results are in! A survey taken by Excellence Scholarship funding partners revealed that the majority experienced the following:

  • Increased access to seminary students and future church leaders
  • Conviction that their contribution supported debt avoidance and improvement in financial acumen
  • Recognition as a connectional collaborator, including positive publicity

In addition, respondents strongly believe this scholarship reduces borrowing, eases the financial burden and anxiety of educational pursuits, and increases the likelihood of staying connected to The United Methodist Church.

This scholarship is funded by a unique partnership with this Initiative, United Methodist seminaries, Annual Conferences, Boards of Ordained Ministry, United Methodist area foundations and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. For a listing of participating funding partners, click here.

We always welcome new partners to innovate, develop and share resources and strategies that enhance clergy financial well-being. If you would like to discuss potential ways you can participate in this goal, please contact Bonnie Marden at or Dale Jones at

Upcoming Webinars

Frank O’Brien

Upcoming Events

Mark your calendar for upcoming Wespath events focused on enhancing clergy financial well-being:

  • August 18, 2pm–3pm CDT: Financial Well-Being 101: A webinar with Wespath Benefit Educator Frank O’Brien
  • October 26-27: Save the date for Wespath Benefits You-niversity: Bringing Education and the Five Dimensions of Well-Being to You Virtually. More information will be available soon on the Wespath events webpage
UMC Clergy Financial Well-Being Initiative

For more information about this initiative and clergy financial well-being resources, visit:

Successfully expanding financial literacy depends on strategic collaboration.
We look forward to working with you in 2020.

Connected in Christian Service,

Dale Jones, Wespath Project Director
David Bell, Project Chair

Bonnie Marden, Project Manager
Lisa Greenwood, NAUMF Executive Director

A collaborative project led by Wespath Benefits and Investments, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and National Association of United Methodist Foundations funded by a Lilly Endowment, Inc. grant through their Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders.

Copyright © 2020 Wespath Benefits and Investments, a general agency of The United Methodist Church.

Wespath is located at 1901 Chestnut Ave., Glenview, IL 60025.