Grants and Financial Literacy Training Available to Clergy with Student Debt

January 24, 2018

By: Diane Owen

Clergy, imagine a day—a day soon—where you feel lighter. Possessing a confidence about your personal finances and at peace with discussing money—at home and with your congregation. A day when money issues no longer rule you! We want to help you experience that day sooner than you may have expected. We are blessed to have the Dakotas and Minnesota Annual Conferences as the recipient of the Lilly Endowment’s grant to address the economic challenges our pastors are facing. This grant is designed to educate and support our clergy’s ability to decrease their debt and the subsequent fears and uncertainty that come with the burden of debt. 

Whether you are clergy or laity, find out how this initiative affects you below.

I'm clergy: What is the conference doing to provide this education and support?

All clergy who have been under appointment ten years or less may now apply for the NEW Student Debt Reduction Grant funded by the Lilly initiative. Educational debt continues to be the primary financial challenge for many of our pastors today. In response to this and other economic challenges facing our pastors, we have dedicated a portion of the $1 million grant to reduce educational debt.

The Lilly grant is designed to assist in educational debt reduction combined with increasing personal financial literacy. Currently Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course materials are offered at no charge to participants at the Clergy Leadership Academy as one option for improving financial acumen. These same materials are now available to ANY clergy in the Dakotas or Minnesota Annual Conferences for $149 (A negotiated cost reduction of $130!) by contacting Diane Owen, the program director for the Lilly Initiative.

An eligible pastor may apply for a $5000 grant beginning April 2018 by submitting an application found on the Annual Conference website under Clergy Resources. The grant is renewable for up to three years. The primary requirements for eligibility include being in appointment ten years or less (usually the duration of a student loan) and documentation of personal finance literacy training within the last three years. Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is only one of many courses available.

A Grant Review Team will review each application in the order of receipt to determine if eligibility requirements have been met. The team is comprised of the Lilly Program Director, Diane Owen; the Executive Directors of both Foundations, Val Walker and Sheri Meister; and lay people from each Annual Conference.

For more information on applying for this grant opportunity, go to:

Or contact Diane Owen, Area Program Director for the Lilly Initiative / (507) 244-0311.

I'm a lay person: How does this affect my congregation?

The Lilly initiative’s overarching mission for the Dakotas-Minnesota Area is to strengthen churches. We believe that strengthening pastoral leadership is critical to healthy churches. Pastors are expected to lead the effort to generate the resources to live into the mission of the church—making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. But our pastors must also be financially competent around personal and church finance and stewardship in order to lead effectively. Our pastors need to better understand how to lead congregations to financial health.

With this initiative, clergy will be equipped to create a culture of generosity that is a reflection of deepening faith and growing discipleship. A financially healthy church has strong pastoral and lay leadership reflecting maturing disciples and growth in generosity. We are excited that the Lilly initiative seeks to inform and undergird the factors that contribute to strong healthy churches.

Diane Owen is the Area Program Director for the Lilly Initiative. / (507) 244-0311

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404

(612) 870-0058