Wesleyan pastors and their churches will continue receiving help facing financial challenges thanks to a second $1 million grant awarded to The Wesleyan Church. The grant, part of the National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders supported by the Lilly Endowment, will fund the Thrive Financial Initiative, managed by the Education and Clergy Development Division. The first grant was received in 2015.
Thrive Financial Initiative (TFI) is designed to help pastors overcome economic challenges that limit ministry effectiveness. Partnering with key church lay leaders, the program seeks to help pastors, congregations and communities thrive. Any pastor serving in a local Wesleyan church can participate.
“To see the support Lilly, The Wesleyan Church and local congregations provide the women and men who serve God through pastoral ministry is deeply moving and encouraging,” said Russ Gunsalus, executive director of TWC Education and Clergy Development. “Our hope is to remove all obstacles preventing pastors from being fully able to flourish so that they are better able to care for themselves, congregations and communities.
“If I could personally visit with every Wesleyan church pastor and leader,” Gunsalus added, “I would direct them to visit the Thrive Financial Initiative website and enroll immediately. There is no reason to live with finances constraining a pastor and a church from fulfilling God’s call.”
“The National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders is supported by endowment grants awarded to 38 religious organizations to reduce or alleviate some of the key financial pressures that impair effective pastoral leadership and improve financial literacy among parish pastors. Common activities include: providing incentives to pastors and their spouses to participate in educational events related to personal finance, offering low- to no-cost professional financial planning and counseling, providing matching contributions for pastors (and congregations) to enroll in retirement savings programs, helping pastors create emergency funds, developing programs to help young pastors pay down or eliminate educational debt and creating new scholarship funds so that seminarians borrow less while in school,” states the Lilly Endowment website.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons, J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.
The second $1 million grant was announced and celebrated at The Gathering, January 9 to 12, attended by nearly 2,000 Wesleyan pastors and their spouses.