Living well is a personal journey that presents each of us with unique opportunities to steward our gifts in all dimensions of our lives. The following grants are to assist you in your journey.
These grants are inspired by the Portico Benefit Services’ Wholeness Wheel. Wellness is multi-dimensional — made up of spiritual, vocational, intellectual, emotional, physical, social, and financial dimensions of well-being. Spiritual well-being is intertwined with and influences our well-being in all other dimensions.
Ministerial Excellence Fund / Grant for Reduction of Student Educational Loans / 2018
To assist our pastors by providing a principal payment on an education loan incurred in pursuing their education to become pastors and deacons.
Guidelines and Expectations
- Grant recipients must be serving in the Southwestern Minnesota Synod. Pastors and deacons in both full-time and part-time calls are eligible.
- Application may be made from October 15 – December 14, 2018
- Grant recipients are required to meet with a financial counselor (such as with LSS or Portico) to conduct what we regard as a financial wellness check-up each year they receive a grant. The meeting may focus on areas most appropriate to the pastor’s situation, such as household budgeting, debt reduction, student loans options, savings etc. This financial check-up will be provided at no cost to grant recipients.
- Grant recipients will notify their congregations that they have received this grant and will invite them to participate in the financial assistance of their pastors by contributing to the MEF. (Grant recipients will be given a script to help make this invitation and a follow-up letter will be sent to the congregation encouraging their support of the MEF.) Pastors do not need to reveal the specifics of their educational indebtedness, only that they have received this grant. It is our desire that congregations will become more aware of the issue of educational debt among pastors, but they do not need to know the specifics of your debt.
- Grant recipients are encouraged participate in appropriate education programs and events hosted by SW MN Synod or other organizations to increase financial literacy.
- Personal information on identity and call.
- Information on the education loan.
- Reflection on the potential impact of the grant.
Even though this grant is paid directly to the company that holds your loan, the IRS regards this type of assistance as taxable income for the recipient. You will be asked to submit a form W-9 to the synod office and the synod office will issue a 1099 for the year you receive the grant (in this case, for 2019). Grant recipients need to be aware that this grant will increase the amount of taxes paid and are encouraged to prepare for it by working with your tax advisor or accountant.
Allocation of this grant will be made in January 2019.
To assist pastors serving in our synod who are experiencing the high financial costs of an unexpected medical crisis in their family.
Grant application may be made on behalf of the pastor or a pastor’s immediate family member for unexpected illnesses, medical treatments, or mental health counseling incurred in 2017 or 2018.
- The pastor must be serving in the Southwestern Minnesota Synod.
- One grant per family per year for up to $1,000. 2017 grant recipients may apply for a new grant in 2018.
- Applications may be made anytime during the year. Completed applications (application and document of evidence) will be reviewed and processed after the 21st of each month.
- The grant amount is the same regardless of full-time or part-time status.
- Applications will be reviewed and grants decided by the Ministerial Excellence Fund Review Team (Pastor Kathryn Skoglund, Pastor Erik Karlson, Mort Meyenburg).
- Because of the generosity of both the supporters of the MEF and the Lilly Endowment, this is not a competitive grant. This means that a pastor who receives a grant is not keeping another pastor from receiving a grant.
- Personal information on identity and illness/treatment.
- A copy of the billing from a medical provider related to the illness/treatment. Multiple documents of evidence may be submitted to show charges up to the $1,000 limit of the grant.
- A completed W-9 (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf) if grant is paid to the applicant. (See Tax Implications)
The applicant may decide how the grant is to be distributed, either to the pastor or to the medical provider. There are different tax consequences between these two choices.
- If the grant is paid to the pastor, it is regarded as taxable income by the IRS. You will submit a form W-9 to us with your application, and we will issue a 1099 to you at the end of the year.
- If the grant is sent directly to the medical provider to pay a medical bill, it is not considered taxable income by the IRS.
If your medical bill has been turned over to a collection agency, we will issue the grant to the pastor.
Allocation will be made once the MEF review team has approved the application, which will be done within 30 days of receipt. The grant will be paid out as the applicant has indicated, either directly to the pastor or to the medical provider.
Ministerial Excellence Fund / Retirement Contribution Challenge Grant / 2019
To challenge rostered minister serving in the synod to grow their contribution to their retirement savings by being personally invested.
Guidelines for Personal Contribution Increase
- Grant application may be made by a rostered leader for 2019 from November 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.
- rostered minister must currently be serving in the Southwestern Minnesota Synod.
- To qualify, applicant’s place of service must have their 2018 Parochial Report (Forms A and C) turned in and the applicant must have submitted the 2018 Report to the Bishop.
- The grant amount is the same for both full-time and part-time statuses.
- The grant will reimburse a rostered leader 100% of an increased contribution to their retirement account up to $360/year.
- This grant intends to encourage a rostered minister to grow in their personal retirement contribution. If the rostered minister is already contributing to their retirement account, the rostered minister can still apply by showing an increase in that contribution after January 1, 2019. If, however, the rostered minister is already contributing the maximum amount allowed by law, she/he is not able to increase their contribution and therefore not eligible for this grant.
- Applicants from last year are encouraged to apply for this 100% reimbursement. However, this grant is for new increases. You are responsible for the amount you increased for 2018 if you are able to maintain it.
- Payment will be sent in a lump sum to the rostered leader.
- Application will be seen and award decided by the Ministerial Excellence Fund review team (Pastor Kathryn Skoglund, Pastor Erik Karlson, and Mort Meyenburg).
- Personal information on identity.
- Verification that you have increased the amount you personally contribute to your retirement account.
Since the rostered minister is receiving the grant, the grant is regarded as additional taxable income. Please plan accordingly in making your estimated tax payments. You will need to provide a form W-9 to the synod office, and a 1099 will be issued to the grant recipient.
Allocation of the reimbursement will be made to the rostered minister in June 2019.
Ministerial Excellence Fund / Grant for Retirement Equity / 2019
The next round of applications for this grant will be from March 1 – July 31, 2019.
Wellness grants are available for up to a maximum of $250 per eligible person each fiscal year for the purpose of encouraging activities that focus on health and wellness. Grant funds are limited and are not automatically awarded, except for the specific items that are listed as examples. Each person who is rostered in the SW MN Synod and serves as a non-retired, rostered leader in a part-time or full-time call in the synod is eligible for the grants. Paid, non-rostered staff members who serve in a congregation or synodical office setting in the synod AND who have Portico Benefit Services health insurance are also eligible. All rostered leaders must have completed this year’s Annual Rostered Leader Report to the Bishop to receive a grant.
Wellness grants are available to be used for a variety of ways of stewarding your health as leaders:
- Spiritual (spiritual direction sessions, attend a spiritual-centered retreat)
- Vocational (vocational building books for staff/council, staff development retreat and/or facilitator expenses, sabbatical support)
- Intellectual (attending a formal continuing education event—tuition, housing, mileage, travel)
- Emotional (counseling sessions, life coach sessions, attend a retreat for renewal)
- Physical (exercise equipment for home gym or church group, exercise classes, resources or programs)
- Social (Pastor-2-Pastor, Family Camp)
You must submit a receipt for reimbursement. Please send receipt to Carla Klawitter at firstname.lastname@example.org or SW MN Synod, PO Box 499, Redwood Falls, MN 56283.
$400 Wellness Dollars Incentives for ELCA-Primary Health Plan Members
Login to your MyPortico account to earn up to $400 in Wellness Dollars, which will be deposited into your personal wellness account, legally a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), or a health savings account (HSA).
Scholarship Application for Seminarians
These scholarships are available from the synod’s endowment for seminary scholarships, individual gifts.
1) Enrolled at an ELCA seminary;
2) A candidate of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA, pursuing rostered ministry in the ELCA; and
3) A student in good standing.
Students may be full- or part-time. Traditional, distance learning, and TEEM candidates are all eligible to apply.
Click here to apply
“Equip Grants” are grants supported by our Embrace God’s Mission + Equip God’s People Funding Initiative. These grants will empower and equip God’s people for God’s work. Equip Grants will change periodically and offer a variety of learning opportunities in our three main areas of the Funding Initiative, Deepen Congregational Vitality, Enhance Local and Global Mission, and Develop Servant Leaders.
How to apply:
- Seek support and approval by your pastor; if you are a rostered minister, seek support and approval from your synod minister. Please download the grant informational PDF below, fill out the sign-off portion, and send to the synod office.
- To fill out online application, click here.
Equip Grants available now:
- Teens in Mission (TIM) Team, click here for grant information and sign-off.
To learn more about TIM Team click here. This link will take you to the camp webpage.
- Luther Seminary School for Lay Ministry Course, click here for grant information and sign-off.
To learn more about Luther Seminary’s School for Lay Ministry click here. This link will take you to the Luther Seminary website, Lifelong Learning, Kairos.
CEU credits are available upon request for all grants.
How to get reimbursed:
- Please submit your receipt or registration confirmation to Carla Klawitter at email@example.com or SW MN Synod, Attn: Carla Klawitter, PO Box 499, Redwood Falls, MN 56283. Also, include who should be reimbursed with contact information.