Gifts of Grace Phase III Lilly Endowment Grant and Upcoming Opportunity: COVID Relief Grant to Rostered Ministers
We are delighted to report that the Southwestern Minnesota Synod and its grant partner, the New Jersey Synod, have been awarded a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of a third phase of its National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders that addresses financial hardships created and/or intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funding from this grant is making it possible for the Ministerial Excellence Fund to offer a new COVID Relief grant in the new year that will assist with expenses that rostered ministers and their households incurred because of the pandemic. More information and the application for the grant will be available in January.
The Ministerial Excellence Fund is part of the Gifts of Grace program in our synod which seeks to help our rostered ministers grow in financial wellness and financial literacy.
Gifts of Grace Sunday!
Gifts of Grace is about building a culture of healthy, sustained ministry leadership in southwestern Minnesota congregations. As a partnership with the Lilly Foundation Inc. the long-term goal of Gifts of Grace is that all of us continue to live out our callings well into the future.
Across the synod, we are inviting congregations to choose a Sunday to designate as Gifts of Grace Sunday any time in October or November. This can be a great opportunity to open up conversations about financial health for all of your participants, and to lift up ways your congregation can support the Gifts of Grace program.
Through a process of deep listening, Gifts of Grace leaders discovered that student debt, medical debt, and deficient retirement savings present barriers to Rostered Ministers becoming the generous, vibrant leaders needed in our congregations. The Gifts of Grace project seeks to address those three areas by making grants available to assist Rostered Ministers and thereby free them to live fully into their calling to teach and preach about God’s generosity for all of us. Gifts of Grace also provides resources to increase financial literacy and financial health among our leaders, and to provide stewardship trainings that equip them with speak with confidence about biblical stewardship, congregational annual appeals, congregational endowments, and special capital appeals.
Resources to lift up Gifts of Grace in congregations include:
The Southwestern Minnesota Synod is committed to building a culture of healthy, sustained ministry in its congregations. The Gifts of Grace project is a tool to help the congregations that make up our synod lay a foundation for healthy vibrant ministry now and into the future. We want to invite you to make an investment in the health of our congregations and leaders.
Our research has shown that congregations cannot be places of healthy sustained ministry if the rostered leaders are not healthy themselves. Through a process of deep listening we have discovered that Student Debt, Medical Debt, and Deficient Retirement Savings present barriers to our rostered leaders becoming the generous, vibrant leaders needed in our congregations. The Gifts of Grace project seeks to address those three areas by making grants available to free our rostered leaders to live fully into their callings.
We have reached our goal of raising $280,000 in 2021 which will be matched by The Lilly Endowment Inc., our partner in building this culture of sustained health in ministry.
We also recognize that a culture of healthy ministry needs to be built within congregations. Another aspect of Gifts of Grace is providing resources for financial literacy, financial health, and stewardship training. By continuing to provide resources for our rostered ministers and leaders to attend stewardship programs, such as the Executive Certificate for Religious Fundraising, Gifts of Grace supports our rostered ministers in their efforts to ensure the financial health of their congregations, not just in the short term but in the long term as well, through cultural changes in the way generosity is approached and understood.
In the Southwestern MN Synod we have been fortunate enough to partner with the Lilly Endowment Inc. We have partnered with them for two three-year periods of work. Our first three-year term was 2016-2018. In 2018, The Lilly Endowment Inc. approached us with an offer to apply for a second three-year term so that we may further invest our gains in the life of our synod. We applied, were accepted, and will now be working with them through 2021.
With this new term comes a new infusion of money for our work, with the requirement that we match the money they give us. Lilly will provide a new grant of $250,000. At the end of Phase I, we were granted permission to roll over the unspent balance. Because $30,000 of that was moved from operational dollars into our MEF, we are required to also match that amount, so the total we need to raise is $280,000 from individual and congregational donations. Given the generosity shown 2016-2018 in raising matching funds, we know we can do this.
We invite you to walk alongside us in our goal of building a healthy, sustainable, culture of vibrant ministry in our congregations by making a financial contribution to Gifts of Grace.
Ways to give:
- Mail and make your check(s) payable to SW MN Synod Gifts of Grace and mail to:
SW MN Synod, PO Box 499, Redwood Falls, MN 56283.
- Give online (checking / savings / credit card / recurring direct payment-ACH debit) Click here.
- Other gifts (estate plan / IRA / stocks / will / trust) To give with other gifts please call 507-637-3904 for assistance.