Faith + Finances + Freedom
Faith, Finances, and Freedom is an exciting opportunity for us to be Church Together. Through Faith, Finances, and Freedom, the Virginia Synod will be able to award grants to rostered ministers for education debt relief, to work together to strengthen congregational stewardship and to encourage healthy financial practices for congregations and leaders.
The Virginia Synod is partnering with other ELCA Region 9 synods to take part in a $500,000 Lilly Endowment, Inc. “scaling grant” awarded to the North Carolina Synod for Phase Two of the Lilly Endowment’s “National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders”. Each synod will be raising matching funds as they work to address the economic challenges facing rostered ministers. The Virginia Synod is eligible to receive $125,000 in matching grant funds and is currently receiving gifts to support this wonderful new ministry. Every gift received generates an equal gift from the grant and provides an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of rostered ministers and the stewardship ministry of congregations in the Virginia Synod.
Education Debt Relief Grants
Did you know that the average educational debt load for a rostered minister (pastor or deacon) carrying educational debt in the Virginia Synod is approximately $47,000? This reality has a direct impact on a rostered leader’s ability to accept a call and on their ability to be a steward leader in their congregation.
Beginning in late spring 2020, rostered ministers will have the opportunity to apply for an Educational Debt Reduction grant which will be paid directly to their lender. The grant application will be reviewed by the grant administrator who will process the application. Awards will be made by a team of lay and rostered ministers from the Virginia Synod Council based on available funds and individual need.
As a part of the grant process, rostered ministers will participate in a financial education class, receive free financial counseling and have access to financial coaching.
New applicant requirements:
- Complete the Faith, Finances, and Freedom Application (link below).
- Complete the Financial Peace University course or another approved financial education program.
- Receive 3 free financial counseling sessions from a Portico or LSS Minnesota representative. For more information on this program, go to: https://www.lssmn.org/financialcounseling/portico
- Submit proof of education loan payments for the previous 12 months. (Submitted as a part of the application)
- Submit your Report to your Bishop for the current year.
Stewardship Development Grants are available through the Director for Evangelical Mission.
Congregations interested in strengthening their congregational understanding of stewardship will work with Pastor John Wertz, Jr., Director for Evangelical Mission (DEM), and the Stewardship Table to receive monetary support for participating in one of three stewardship efforts:
- “Stewardship for All Seasons” (SAS)
- “Cultivating Generous Congregations” (CGC)
- “Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising”
For more information on potential Stewardship Development Grants, please email Pastor John Wertz, Jr. at: email@example.com.
Through the ELCA’s Resourceful Servants the “Congregational Certificate Program”, your congregation has the opportunity to follow a road map to greater financial stability, using healthy behaviors which focus on five key areas: Accounting, Finance, Human Resources, Risk Management and Stewardship.
Each module contains resources related to healthy financial behaviors. Ultimately, by implementing and maintaining a set of financially healthy behaviors, and tracking them through this website, your congregations will receive a certificate, indicating your focus on financial health.
The goal of the program is for your congregation to deepen its financial knowledge and improve its financial behaviors, enabling you to be the best stewards of the gifts entrusted to your congregation.
For more information, click here.