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Leadership Development

Financial Well-Being

Financial Well-Being



Resources for clergy and congregations

The following programs and resources are suggested to clergy and churches as part of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area's participation in Lilly Endowment's national initiative to address "Economic Challenges Facing our Pastoral Leaders".  The holistic approach to address these challenges includes opportunities and grants primarily focused on improving personal financial well-being, but also to strengthen church financial health and grow a culture of generosity.  Funding for many of the opportunities listed is made possible through grants awarded the Area by Lilly Endowment.

Church Financial Management and Stewardship

If you are interested in learning more about growing generous givers, starting a study such as Saving Grace, or providing a growth opportunity for key leaders, consider applying for a Financial Ministry Grant of up to $500 to fund your effort. Whatever your method for improving the financial health of your church and embedding the value of generosity into your church culture, some financial support can jumpstart your efforts!

Here are some financial well-being resources that may interest you:

  • Saving Grace, A Guide to Financial Well-being - A great study for small groups.
  • Six Weeks on Money, a digital course and small group experience for church leaders to offer their church and community
  • Cultivating Generous Congregation - The Lake Institute on Faith & Giving offers training for congregational teams.
  • Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising - The Lake Institute on Faith & Giving offers an online, 8-week course for leaders of faith communities.
  • Disciples Living Generously (free) - Offered by UMC Discipleship Ministries, a three-session series designated to help church leaders see stewardship and generosity as more than "how do we pay the bills" but rather "how do we grown generouse disciples?"
  • Financial Leadership Series for Churches - Offered by Garrett Evangelical this fall 2023, participants will cover concepts around missional relevance and money, financial leadership and stewardship development, and growing the financial integrity of your minitry.
  • Financial Practices for Churches of All Sizes through Church of the Resurrection's ShareChurch platform is a collaboration between COR and a Lilly-funded project of the Missouri Foundation providing a series of pre-recorded modules for pastors, financial leaders, and staff on basic financial practices.  There is no cost but individuals must register with ShareChurch to access.

Clergy Financial Well-Being

Open now! Investing In Leaders Resource Grant (Student Debt Reduction): The 2024 application is open until Aug. 1, 2024. First time applicants are considered first. Demonstration of completing personal financial education and working with a financial loan repayment counselor (at least one session) are both required. If you need more information about connecting with a student loan repayment counselor, please contact Area Director of Clergy Well-Being, Diane Owen, at

2023 Financial Well-Being Workshop Video Recordings:

Clergy Emergency Support Request:  Financial emergency support for urgent or crisis situations is provided to eligible clergy up to $5,000.

Free Financial Education materials for all clergy:  All clergy under appointment may obtain free financial education materials (up to $5,000 value).  Contact Diane Owen,, with your request.  You are not limited to the option below.  This is simply a suggested tool for your consideration.

Investing in Leaders Resource Grant (Student Debt Reduction):  The 2023 application is now closed.  First time applicants are considered first.  Demonstration of completing personal financial education and working with a financial loan repayment counselor (at least one session) are both required.  If you need more information about connecting with a student loan repayment counselor, please contact Area Director of Clergy Well-Being, Diane Owen, at  

Practical Church Leadership certificate program for clergy:  (Formerly known as Nonprofit Church Leadership certificate program.)  Applications for the 2024-2025 program are open now.  Apply by May 1.  Clergy and church leaders may apply for this year-long, online graduate certificate program through Dakota Wesleyan University designed to increase competencies in leadership.  Applicants will need to ask the Leadership Team of their church to complete this Endorsement of Participation.  85 percent of the $7,500 tuition cost is funded.  The pastor and the church work together to cover the remaining $1,000.

Tax Accountants for Clergy: Download PDF here.

Ministerial Student Aid Resources: The Dakotas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation and GBHEM offer student aid for certified candidates through Seminary and Course of Study Loan/Grants, Merit Scholarships, and Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarships, as well as debt reduction relief for new clergy within the conference. Learn more about the different programs here.

Financial Counseling

Financial counseling is available for free to clergy and provides guidance with current financial challenges.  Check out these options.

EY Financial Services:  EY provides access at no charge to a financial planner if you are enrolled in the retirement plan (UMPIP) through Wespath.

Financial Counselors:

  • Marcia Alexander and Aaron Jones.  Thrivent financial advisors, are familiar to many.  Marcia is the child of retired Minnesota clergy.  Aaron worked for the Minnesota Foundation.  Both have worked with UMC churches and individuals.  They offer up to five sessions at no charge to clergy.  Marcia and Aaron provide personalized financial guidance to people at all stages of their journey through life (such as pre-retirement, new position, etc.).  Whether its life insurance, long term care, legacy planning or investment needs beyond Wespath, Marcia and Aaron are capable of applying the proper financial guidance and tools to move you forward with meaning and purpose.  You can call Marcia and Aaron at 612-702-9631 or by email at or Review the process offered by Marcia and Aaron.
  • Sarah Swantner has provided financial counseling to many of our Dakotas-Minnesota Area clergy over recent years.  She also participates in the Dakotas Higher Ground initiative offering clergy important information on how to improve financial well-being.  Sarah offers financial counseling at no charge for clergy up to five virtual sessions.  Learn more about Sarah, mental health counselor and certified financial planner, at Black Hills Integrative Counseling and Coaching.  Learn more:  Couples financial page / Individuals financial page / Financial coaching for UMC clergy.  Call Sarah directly at 605-215-0550, or by emailing at

LSS Financial Services:  We have contracted with LSS, a nonprofit, holistic credit counseling organization providing a wide variety of financial resources and counseling at no charge for up to six sessions.  LSS (Lutheran Social Services) also offers student load repayment counseling and guidance around the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.  Call 1-800-528-2926 and idenfity yourself as a clergy or employee of the Dakotas or Minnesota Annual Conferences.

For more information about financial counseling or connecting with a financial counselor, contact Diane Owen at 507-244-0311, or email.

Church Financial Management and Stewardship:

Financial Foundations Newsletter

The Dakotas Foundation, Dakotas Conference Finance Office, and the Lilly Grant Financial Well-Being program are partnering together to provide a monthly Financial Foundations Newsletters. While we equip a lot of churches through the Conference website, the Foundation website, the Lilly Grant Financial Well-Being website, our blog, and YouTube, we knew we were missing many that would prefer to connect via email or mail. Hopefully you will find this to be a blessing to your ministry and church. If you would like to receive this monthly newsletter by mail or email, please subscribe here.

March 2021 Newsletter | April 2021 Newsletter | May 2021 Newsletter | June 2021 Newsletter | July 2021 Newsletter | August 2021 Newsletter | September 2021 Newsletter | October 2021 Newsletter | November 2021 | December 2021 | January 2022 Newsletter | February 2022 Newsletter | March 2022 Newsletter | April 2022 Newsletter | May 2022 Newsletter


To learn more about any of the resources or grants on this page, contact Diane Owen, the DK-MN Area Lilly Grant program director.  You may also call her at (507) 244-0311.


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