ISSUE 3 l July 2021
Saving Grace personal money management course
“I feel more confident, less ignorant, and therefore, less intimidated when it comes to addressing our (family’s) finances.” This was the testimony of one clergyperson after completing the Saving Grace personal money management course, developed as part of the United Methodist Church’s implementation of the ECFPL Initiative. At Wespath, which manages retirement benefits for clergy and church employees, pursuit of clergy financial well-being led to increasing awareness of a need for a basic resource on personal financial management that would fit well with pastors and congregations across the diverse Church. We wanted a program where participants could learn about and talk about money without being intimidated, embarrassed, or annoyed.
We arranged with Good $ense Movement to use their Freed-Up Financial Living course as a starting point. Then, in partnership with our sister agency the United Methodist Publishing House, and with input and participation from numerous Church leaders, we developed Saving Grace as a six-session curriculum on key money management topics—saving, earning, giving, spending, debt, and relationship with money. The result is a personal finance resource based on Christian values and sound financial principles. Saving Grace is also non-judgmental and applicable no matter one’s social, financial, or family situation. Materials include a participant workbook and supplementary videos for each topic. A clergy version of the workbook has additional content on housing, taxes, and other matters particular to clergy.
Saving Grace also has a leader’s guide, as it is ideally suited for small group studies—either groups of clergy or parishioners. In a Saving Grace group for Wespath staff earlier this year, employees of numerous faith traditions—Catholic, evangelical, Greek Orthodox, various Protestant traditions as well as United Methodists—and employees of no particular faith found the study helpful and relevant.
A few clergy leaders recently talked about the value they find in Saving Grace in this video.
Learn more about Saving Grace and preview videos and materials.
@ Wespath Benefits and Investments
Better understanding the ecology that supports and sustains clergy
Our colleagues at the Ormond Center at Duke University are conducting a national survey to better understand the ecology that supports and sustains clergy. Those of you receiving this newsletter are part of this support network. Rick Foss is serving on the advisory board for this project, and we believe that you all would have a great deal of insight. We are hoping that many of you might be willing to share your wisdom via a 20 minute survey, and by sharing the invitation with your colleagues. More information about the project along with survey access can be found here.
@ the Ormond Center at Duke University
Financial literacy curricula: What matters most
As some of you know, I’ve begun a doctoral program at IUPUI. One of the fun things about this academic work is that it gives me an opportunity to reflect on the work our grantees are doing in this initiative, using some other disciplinary approaches. For my textual analysis class this semester, for example, I chose to look at several of the financial literacy curricula being used across our initiative. I wrote some reflections about that experience for Lake Institute’s Insights magazine, found here.
The grantees in this initiative have experimented with various ways of equipping their pastoral leaders with financial literacy tools. What I am learning from them is twofold. First, the tools matter: grantees have been careful and intentional about selecting financial literacy curricula. In some cases, they have partnered with providers to use an established curriculum. In some cases, they have worked with existing curricula to tailor an approach. And when some grantees have not found a tool that fits their needs, practically or theologically, they have designed in-house curricular approaches that work for them. The tools matter.
The second learning is that the way in which we use these financial literacy tools matters too, perhaps even more. Some grantees have found that providing their financial literacy training in cohort or peer settings is the most effective in their context. Some offer training during retreats or conference events. Some fold this education into relationships with financial advisors, and some offer it on-demand to fit into busy pastoral schedules.
There is no “one right way” to give pastoral leaders these financial literacy tools. But when pastoral leaders absorb this kind of practical training, and when they receive it as part of a caring investment in their ministry, we celebrate the impact we observe: it makes an enormous difference in the confidence and peace with which these pastoral leaders live out their vocation.
Coordination Program Director
2021 Team Leadership Gathering
October 6-8, 2021
Lilly Endowment has made the decision to host all 2021 events virtually. We will not be meeting virtually for three straight days. However, please hold these days as we work to determine our format and timing. We will let you know as soon as we can. The invitation will be sent to the director, as is typical, with the option of bringing up to four team members.
Peer Connections Opportunities
These are completely optional conversation opportunities for directors to connect with one another. Topics depend on those who participate and what’s on your mind. All begin at 1 PM Eastern. An invite will be sent to directors the week before each offering.
-Aug 2nd -Sept 14th -Nov 17th
2022 Team Leadership Gathering & Celebration
November 7-9, 2022
We are so excited to meet in person once again! This event will include both cohorts, even if you conclude in 2021. Directors will be welcome to invite up to 4 team members to attend with him/her.
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