Financial Well-Being

Resources for clergy and congregations

The following programs and resources are suggested to clergy and churches as part of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area’s participation in Lilly Endowment’s national initiative to address “Economic Challenges Facing our Pastoral Leaders”. The holistic approach to address these challenges includes opportunities and grants primarily focused on improving personal financial well-being, but also to strengthen church financial health and grow a culture of generosity. Funding for many of the opportunities listed is made possible through grants awarded the Area by Lilly Endowment.

Church Financial Management and Stewardship

Apply Now: Financial Ministry grants for churches: While church stewardship and generosity intentions are year-round ministries, the Fall is often the time when churches turn attention to the upcoming budget year. How will you create a culture of giving and generosity in your church that is more than a Sunday in the Fall? Are your financial policies, procedures, and policies current? Do people give to the mission or to the budget? Do you have a strategy for including stewardship in the discipleship pathway of your congregation?

If you are interested in learning more about growing generous givers, starting a study such as Saving Grace, or providing a growth opportunity for key leaders, consider applying for a Financial Ministry Grant of up to $500 to fund your effort. Whatever your method for improving the financial health of your church and embedding the value of generosity into your church culture, some financial support can jumpstart your efforts!

Here are some financial well-being resources that may interest you:

  • Saving Grace, A Guide to Financial Well-being – A great study for small groups.
  • Cultivating Generous Congregations – The Lake Institute on Faith & Giving offers training for congregational teams.
  • Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising – The Lake Institute on Faith & Giving offers an online, 8-week course for leaders of faith communities.
  • Disciples Living Generously (free) – Offered by UMC Discipleship Ministries, a three-session series designed to help church leaders see stewardship and generosity as more than “how do we pay the bills” but rather “how do we grown generous disciples?”
  • Financial Leadership for Churches – Offered by Garrett Evangelical this Fall 2023, participants will cover concepts around missional relevance and money, financial leadership and stewardship development, and growing the financial integrity of your ministry.
  • Financial Practices for Churches of All Sizes through Church of the Resurrection’s ShareChurch platform is a collaboration between COR and a Lilly-funded project of the Missouri Foundation providing a series of pre-recorded modules for pastors, financial leaders, and staff on basic financial practices. There is no cost but individuals must register with ShareChurch to access.

Clergy Financial Well-Being

2023 Financial Well-Being Workshop Video Recordings: 

Clergy Emergency Support Request: Financial emergency support for urgent or crisis situations is provided to eligible clergy up to $5,000.

Free Financial Education materials for all clergy: All clergy under appointment may obtain free financial education materials (up to $150 value). Contact Diane Owen,, with your request. You are not limited to the option below. This is simply one suggested tool for your consideration.

  • Saving Grace, financial management from a Wesleyan perspective just for clergy

Investing In Leaders Resource Grant (Student Debt Reduction): The 2023 application is now closed. First time applicants are considered first. Demonstration of completing personal financial education and working with a financial loan repayment counselor (at least one session) are both required. If you need more information about connecting with a student loan repayment counselor, please contact Area Director of Clergy Well-Being Diane Owen at

Practical Church Leadership certificate program for clergy: (Formerly known as Nonprofit Church Leadership certificate program.) Applications for the 2024-2025 program will be accepted in the spring. Clergy and church leaders may apply for this year-long, online graduate certificate program through Dakota Wesleyan University designed to increase competencies in leadership. Applicants will need to ask the Leadership Team of their church to complete this Endorsement of Participation. 85 percent of the $7,500 tuition cost is funded. The pastor and the church work together to cover the remaining $1,000.

Tax Accountants for Clergy: View a list of Minnesota tax accountants who can work with clergys' unique situation.

Financial Counseling

Financial counseling is available for free to clergy and provides guidance with current financial challenges. Check out these options.

EY Financial Services:  EY provides access at no charge to a financial planner if you are enrolled in the retirement plan (UMPIP) through Wespath.

Financial Counselors:

  • ​​Marcia Alexander and Aaron Jones, Thrivent financial advisors, are familiar to many. Marcia is the child of retired Minnesota clergy. Aaron worked for the Minnesota Foundation. Both have worked with UMC churches and individuals. They offer up to five sessions at no charge to clergy. Marcia and Aaron provide personalized financial guidance to people at all stages of their journey through life (such as pre-retirement, new position, etc). Whether its life insurance, long term care, legacy planning or investment needs beyond Wespath, Marcia and Aaron are capable of applying the proper financial guidance and tools to move you forward with meaning and purpose. You can call Marcia and Aaron at 612-702-9631 or by email at or Review the process offered by Marcia and Aaron.
  • Sarah Swantner has provided financial counseling to many of our Dakotas-Minnesota Area clergy over recent years. She also participates in the Dakotas Higher Ground initiative offering clergy important information on how to improve financial well-being. Sarah offers financial counseling at no charge for clergy up to five virtual sessions. Learn more about Sarah, mental health counselor and certified financial planner, at Black Hills Integrative Counseling and Coaching. Learn more: Couples financial page / Individuals financial page / Financial coaching for UMC clergy. Call Sarah directly at 605-215-0550, or by emailing at
  • For more information about financial counseling or connecting with a financial counselor, contact Diane Owen at 507-244-0311, or email.

LSS Financial Services: We have contracted with LSS, a nonprofit, holistic credit counseling organization providing a wide variety of financial resources and counseling at no charge for up to six sessions. LSS (Lutheran Social Services) also offers student loan repayment counseling and guidance around the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Call 1-800-528-2926 and identify yourself as a clergy or employee of the Dakotas or Minnesota Annual Conferences.

For more information about financial counseling or connecting with a financial counselor, contact Diane Owen at 507-244-0311, or email.

Not finding what you are looking for?

Access Clergy Grants information

"Money Matters" e-newsletter

To better provide you with timely and helpful resources about money matters, the "Money Matters" quarterly e-newsletter was shared with all clergy in the Dakotas and Minnesota Annual Conferences. The newsletter is now suspended, but the past editions may hold information you will find useful.

The purpose of the e-newsletter is to offer information about opportunities and resources that could help clergy's financial health and well-being. Some of these resources apply to only clergy, and some are financial opportunities for the local church.  View all editions of "Money Matters"


To learn more about any of the resources or grants on this page, contact Diane Owen, the DK-MN Area Lilly Grant Program Director. / (507) 244-0311

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404

(612) 870-0058