Grants offer new ways to talk about money and help form generous disciples
by Susan Herman for the Presbyterian Foundation | Special to Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Applications are now being accepted for the Presbyterian Foundation’s Church Financial Leadership Grant program.
Applicants must be a pastor, commissioned ruling elder or leader of a 1001 New Worshiping Community within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The grants will help pastoral leaders institute best practices for church financial leadership, introduce them to new models of giving and stewardship, and offer new ways to talk about money and form generous disciples within their church.
“Grantees have reported transformative effects on their ministry context from increased giving, feeling more comfortable talking about money,” says Rev. David Loleng, director of Church Financial Literacy and Leadership for the Presbyterian Foundation. “They are learning that financial leadership isn’t just about fundraising but is also about forming generous disciples and churches that make an impact in their communities.”
Education changed pastors’ perspectives
Rev. David Duquette, pastor of Pennside Presbyterian Church in Reading, Pa, used the grant to attend the Stewardship Kaleidoscope conference. The number one change that resulted from his participation, he says, is that he helped his church “make a shift from pledging in order to meet the budget to pledging for the sake of the mission.”
Each week’s offering is now introduced along with a story about the church’s mission that concludes: “This was possible because you gave.” The church also integrated e-giving options across multiple platforms, from QR-scannable pledge cards to the Give Now button on its internet homepage. As a result of these changes, Duquette says, giving levels increased by 4% even as membership contracted by about 25% over the same period. “Seeing stewardship as a joy has been a game changer for me and for our church,” Duquette says.
Rev. Dr. Brandi Casto-Waters, who serves First Presbyterian Church in Greer, S.C., also attended Stewardship Kaleidoscope. “I have studied stewardship for many years,” Casto-Waters says. “The conference helped to re-energize my leadership of the session as we seek to be church in a changing culture.”
Last November, the pastoral staff at Casto-Waters’s church hand delivered stewardship bags to all new members. The bags contained the stewardship letter, pledge card, narrative budget, a list of mission opportunities, a bag of Café Justo coffee (one of the church’s mission partners) — plus an invitation to a Day of Service preceding Dedication Sunday, with lunch following worship on that day. “Our hope was that this pastoral visit would educate new folks about stewardship and invite them to join the church in meaningful opportunities for service,” Casto-Waters says.
Grant provides matching funds
The Church Financial Leadership grants are matching funds. Applicants must provide the source(s) for the other half of expenses. Eligible expenses include registration fees, transportation, lodging, meals and other expenses for approved church financial leadership events, training and continuing education opportunities. The application deadline is June 15. Applications received after the June 15 deadline will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Grant applications take approximately four weeks to process. Applications are available at presbyterianfoundation.org/financialleadership. If you have questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The grants were made possible from the Foundation’s work as part of a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders.
Susan Herman is a freelance writer and editor. She worships and volunteers on the music team at Carmichael Presbyterian Church near Sacramento, Calif.
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Categories: Gifts & Financial Support, Grants & Scholarships, Presbyterian Foundation
Tags: 1001 new worshiping communities, Café Justo, carmichael presbyterian church, Church Financial Leadership Grant, first presbyterian church greer s.c., lilly endowment inc., pennside presbyterian church, presbyterian foundation, rev david loleng, Stewardship Kaleidoscope
Ministries: Gifts & Financial Support