By BNG staff
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has received a $1 million grant as part of Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders.
The grant will allow the CBF to develop financial literacy programs for congregations and pastoral leaders based on four focus areas identified in a 2015 survey — budgeting, benefits, retirement and debt management. Additional financial services will be offered through CBF Church Benefits.
Lilly’s initiative supports religious organizations across the nation as they address the financial and economic struggles that can impair the ability of pastors to lead congregations effectively. It is providing a total of $28 million in grants for the purpose.
The CBF will establish a Ministerial Excellence Fund in partnership with the CBF Foundation and will provide matching funds of $500,000. The Ministerial Excellence Fund will provide grant awards, beginning in the second quarter of 2016, for immediate debt relief of pastoral leaders, as well as financial consultation, coaching sessions and other educational programs for recipients.
Additionally, the CBF will work to embed these efforts in existing programs and ministries. Peer Learning Groups as well as the annual Leadership Institute held in conjunction with the CBF General Assembly and the ChurchWorks conference for Christian educators will all provide resources for educating clergy and congregational leadership with the goal of building awareness, capacity and sustainability so that a long-term commitment to economic stability will be integrated into the culture of call and service across the Fellowship.
CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said the grant will create additional capacity for the CBF to help form healthy churches.
“Healthy leaders form healthy congregations. Pastoral leaders can be negatively impacted by the stress brought about by the debt they carry. The initiatives that this grant undergirds will help ensure the vitality of local congregations by helping to ensure the health of pastors. That’s a game changer.”
CBF is one of 27 organizations taking part in the initiative, which represent a variety of Christian traditions, including Baptist, Catholic, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of God (Anderson), Episcopal, Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed and Wesleyan churches, as well as non-denominational, and historic African-American Christian communities.