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.
Please read the following three grants that are available.
Ministerial Excellence Fund / Grant for Reduction of Student Educational Loans
The next round of applications for this grant will be from October 1 – December 15, 2018.
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.
To challenge pastors 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 pastor for 2018 from November 1, 2017, to May 31, 2018.
- Pastor must currently be serving in the Southwestern Minnesota Synod.
- To qualify, applicants must have turned in their annual Parochial Report (Forms A and C) and Report to the Bishop.
- The grant amount is the same for both full-time and part-time statuses.
- The grant will reimburse a pastor 100% of an increased contribution to their retirement account up to $360/year.
- This grant intends to encourage a pastor to grow in their personal retirement contribution. If the pastor is already contributing to their retirement account, the pastor can still apply by showing an increase in that contribution after January 1, 2018. If, however, the pastor 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.
- If you increased your contribution in the latter half of 2017, you can apply in 2018 to maintain that increase for 2018. (This is a special circumstance due to the mid-year start of this grant. Future applications for this grant intend to open at the end of the year in preparation for the coming year.)
- Payment will be sent in a lump sum to the pastor.
- 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 pastor is receiving the grant, the grant is regarded as additional taxable income for the pastor. 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 pastor in June 2018.
Ministerial Excellence Fund / Grant for Retirement Equity / 2018
To give pastors serving in the synod who are paid below our synod’s guidelines an opportunity to receive a payment to their retirement account so that their total current-year contribution to their retirement account is equal to what an employer’s contribution would be if they had received compensation at guidelines.
Guidelines for the Retirement Equity Grant:
- Grant application for 2018 may be made by a pastor from March 20, 2018 to July 31, 2018.
- Pastor must be serving in the Southwestern Minnesota Synod on or before January 1, 2018.
- Applicants must have turned in their 2018 Parochial Report (Forms A & C) and Report to the Bishop to qualify.
- The grant will make up the difference between the annual retirement contribution to be paid in 2018 by the employer and the amount that would be paid if the pastor were receiving a compensation package at the SW Minnesota Synod guidelines for his/her years of experience.
- The contribution rate is 10% of defined compensation. Since a pastor’s defined compensation can vary, the standard calculation will be as follows:
|Base Salary (from the synod guidelines)||$40,000|
|+ Housing Allowance (30% of base salary)||$12,000|
|+ SSI Contribution (7.65% of base and housing)||$3,978|
|= Defined Compensation||$55,978|
This calculation will be used whether you are in a parsonage or receiving a housing allowance. It will be used even if you are not receiving an SSI contribution.
- Grant will be prorated for those with less than full-time calls.
- Application will be seen and approved by the Ministerial Excellence Fund review team.
- Personal information on identity and call status.
- Years of service which shall be defined by the ordination date plus half of the years in previous related vocation, if applicable.
- Reporting the compensation package approved by your employer.
- Information on the retirement account.
If you are a Portico member, the grant will be sent to Portico and deposited into your account. It is not regarded as additional taxable income for the pastor. If you have your retirement account in another company, we will attempt to directly deposit it into your account. If we are unable, we will issue the check to you and it will be taxable income; you will submit a W-9 and a 1099 will be issued to you.
Allocation will be made in October 2018.
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).
Seminary Tuition Scholarships
These scholarships are available from the synod’s endowment for seminary scholarships, individual gifts, and the ELCA Fund for Leaders endowments, including funds from the synod, Trinity (Chandler) and Marble (Hendricks) Lutheran Churches, Lutheran Men in Mission, and Green Lake Lutheran Ministries. Applications are received in the Spring for distribution in the next academic year.
1) Enrolled at an ELCA seminary;
2) Have a positive entrance decision through the ELCA candidacy process (or in progress), pursuing ordained or rostered lay ministry in the ELCA; and
3) Academic excellence.
Students may be full- or part-time. Traditional, distance learning, and TEEM candidates are all eligible 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.