The Assistance Program offers programs to help support ministers so that they might devote their best gifts and energies to serving the Church. To be eligible, a teaching elder must be enrolled in the Benefits Plan in Pastor's Participation or its equivalent in menu options.
Minister Educational Debt Assistance Grants
The Minister Educational Debt Assistance Program helps teaching elders who are in the first six years of ministry repay educational debt. This relief makes it easier for teaching elders to accept a wide range of positions and wholly commit their best gifts to ministry. To qualify, you must
- be a PC(USA) teaching elder in your first six years of ministry;
- be enrolled in Pastor's Participation* in the Benefits Plan;
- have an effective salary below the congregtional teaching elders' median salary ($57,300 for 2017 applications);
- attend Getting in Shape Fiscally, a one-day financial planning seminar offered by the Board of Pensions at your seminary or presbytery (see the Board University section of pensions.org for more information); and
- make application through and receive permission from your presbytery. (Note: Presbyteries that submit applications are expected to have a policy on student/clergy indebtedness.)
*Or its equivalent, including participation in the defined benefit Pension Plan, the Death and Disability Plan, the Medical Plan, and the option to contribute to the Retirement Savings Plan [403(b)(9)].
Grants of up to $2,500 per year, for up to four years, are awarded. Total awards may not exceed $10,000 over four years.
The funds available and number of grants awarded each year is limited. Awards are at the discretion of the Board of Pensions. The Board considers the financial means, the nature and amount of the applicant’s debt, and other factors, as appropriate.
Sabbath Sabbatical Support Grants
The Sabbath Sabbatical Support Grant Program allows eligible pastors of small churches to seek a stipend towards a sabbatical. The program provides an opportunity for pastors serving small congregations to take time away from the demands of the job and engage in a period of personal and professional renewal. These grants are intended to supplement the financial aid of congregations, foundations, mid-councils, or other contributors. You must
- be a pastor who is currently serving a congregation of fewer than 200 members;
- have served your current PC(USA) congregation for at least six years;
- be an active member of the Benefits Plan (in Pastor's Participation);
- be able to demonstrate financial need;
- receive additional financial support for the sabbatical from other sources, such as congregations, foundations, your synod or presbytery, or other contributors; and
- take your sabbatical for a period of not less than four weeks.
Other ministers serving in positions that directly support congregational ministry may also be recommended for a grant through their presbytery.
Grants of up to $3,000 are available.
The number of grants awarded each year is limited, and the Board of Pensions administers this program in cooperation with mid councils.
To determine if grants are still available, call the Assistance team of the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (PRESPLAN).