Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations

​The Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations program restores the financial health and wholeness of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) pastors so they may revitalize their congregations.

​The Board of Pensions recognizes that, as a Church, we must faithfully address pastors’ financial challenges if they are to grow and sustain their ministries. That’s why we’re introducing Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations to all eligible ministers serving in congregational settings. This innovative financial education program combines pastor and congregational leader education with grants of up to $10,000 to qualifying pastors.

How it works

Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations brings a pastor and congregational leadership together to work toward financial sustainability by providing financial education and consultations to both the pastor and congregational leaders.

The success of Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations rests on covenants among the pastor, the congregation, and the Board of Pensions. Each party promises to take specific actions that, together, will help build a brighter financial future.

Pastors who covenant with their congregational leadership to complete the program receive individual financial counseling with Ernst & Young Employee Financial Services, a provider of independent, objective employee financial education and counseling. 

Qualifying pastors who complete the program receive a grant of up to $10,000. The grant may be used to reduce or eliminate the pastor’s educational or other debt, or to boost personal savings in the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a 403(b)(9) plan.

Pastor education

The pastor receives a grounding in financial literacy and financial management skills by completing online learning modules in two series: Terms of Call and Personal Finance. The pastor also attends a training session with congregational leaders.

The pastor also receives financial counseling through Ernst & Young Employee Financial Services, at no cost to the individual.

​Education for pastors ​ ​
​Educational components ​Mode ​Time commitment
​Terms of call lessons​online​1 hour
​Personal finance lessons​online​1.5 hours
​A Theology of Benefits/Financial Realities of Pastors​in-person seminar​2 hours
​Financial counseling by Ernst & Young​individual advising & online tools​2-3 counseling sessions

Congregational leader education

Educating congregational leaders is a key component of the program. Members of session or the Personnel Committee or any other congregational leaders, along with the pastor, commit to a single, two-hour training session. This training teaches congregational leaders to

  • understand the financial realities of those who answer God’s call to congregational ministry;
  • appreciate the role justly compensating their pastors, including benefits, plays in the vitality of the Church; and
  • better care for, and support, their pastoral leadership, whose well-being is essential to congregational well-being.

Participants should reach out to their Church Consultant to schedule the congregational leader training session.

​Education for congregational leaders ​ ​
​Educational components ​Mode ​Time commitment
​A Theology of Benefits/Financial Realities of Pastors​in-person seminar​2 hours

Grant awards

A one-time grant of up to $10,000 is available to eligible pastors after the pastor and congregational leaders have completed their educational sessions and the pastor has received financial counseling through Ernst & Young Employee Financial Services.

The grant may be used to reduce or eliminate the pastor’s educational or personal debt, or to boost personal savings in the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a 403(b)(9) plan.

The grant is available through the Ministerial Excellence Fund of the Assistance Program. Primary support for the fund comes from the Board of Pensions, with additional support from Lilly Endowment and participating churches.

Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations plans to give out 500 grants over three years, for a total of $5 million.

Pastor eligibility

To qualify, the pastor must

  • be enrolled in Pastor's Participation in the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.);
  • have a total household adjusted gross income* of less than $118,200 (twice the median effective salary for congregational ministers);
  • have a total net worth of less than $250,000 (excluding value of home and auto); and
  • not currently be receiving a Minister Educational Debt Assistance Grant** from the Assistance Program.

*Adjusted gross income is the total income you and your spouse report on your federal tax form. It may include earnings from you and your spouse's job, self-employment, alimony income, and interest from a bank account — minus specific deductions, such as housing allowance, or adjustments, you're eligible to take.

**Qualifying pastors may participate in both Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations and the Minister Educational Debt Assistance Grant program, but not concurrently. You must complete one program before applying for the other, and the combined grants may not exceed $25,000.

Let's get started

To start the program, complete the following in any order:

  • Complete the Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations Program Covenant and Covenant of Financial Commitment and return them to the appropriate parties.
  • Reach out to your Church Consultant to complete the covenant process and schedule the congregational leader training session.
  • Begin the e-learning courses. The courses are accessible through Benefits Connect, the Board's benefits portal:
    • Log in to Benefits Connect.
    • Choose Board University at the top of the page.
    • After clicking on Board University, you will be automatically directed to our learning management system.
    • Navigate to the Course Library.
    • Select the Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations Learning Path to begin the e-learning courses.

Questions about modules

If you are a current program participant and have questions about the e-learning modules, call the program administrator at 215-587-7219 or email them. If you have questions about eligibility for or accessing Benefits Connect, call the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.


Rev Lorenzo Small

Historic church engages Healthy Pastors program

​Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations has allowed the Reverend Lorenzo Small Sr. to better devote his whole self to ministry, without concerns about his finances.

Read Rev. Small's story

Small church finds big value

​Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations helped the Reverend Elizabeth “Libby” Moses make a plan for financial sustainability, allowing her to focus on her call without the distraction of debt.

Read Rev. Moses' story

‘God shows up’ for pastor, through grant

​Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations is enabling Reverend Jeff Smith to get out of debt and start saving for his children's college educations.

Read Rev. Smith's story

Pastor welcomes financial education, her ‘growing edge’

​Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations gave Rev. Esta Jarrett not only financial knowledge and practical experience but also greater confidence in managing her finances.

Read Rev. Jarrett's story