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. This innovative financial education program combines pastor and congregational leader education with grants of up to $10,000 to qualifying pastors.
How it works   |   Pastor eligibility   |   Steps to complete the program

How it works

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. 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.

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 Financial Planning. The pastor also attends a training session with congregational leaders.

Additionally, the pastor 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 e-learning*​online​1 hour
​Personal Financial Planning e-learning*​online​1.5 hours
​A Theology of Benefits/Financial Realities of Pastors​in-person seminars​2 hours
​Financial counseling by Ernst & Young​individual advising & online tools​2-3 counseling sessions

*Available through the HPHC Learning Path  

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 seminar2 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 other 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

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. 

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.

Steps to complete the program

  1. Sign the Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations Program Covenant and Covenant of Financial Commitment. After each convenant is signed, return to the appropriate parties. Signing commits each party to take specific actions to help build a better financial future for the church. 
  2. Reach out to your Church Consultant to schedule a congregational leader training session. After the convenant process has been completed, email or call your Church Consultant to schedule a two-hour, in-person training session. This session helps congregational leaders better understand the financial realities of those who answer God’s call. 
  3. Register for e-learning courses. Once in-person congregational leader training has been completed, the pastor will then register for e-learning courses through Benefits Connect. The series of online learning modules include two courses, Terms of Call and Personal Finance, which help with financial literacy and management. Here's how to register:
    • 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. 
  4. Consult with a financial professional from Ernst and Young Employee Financial Services (EY). After completing the online learning modules, an EY counselor will contact the pastor directly for counseling sessions. The counseling consists of two to three phone calls and requires an assessment by your EY counselor. This is a requirement of the program and results in a personalized financial plan.
    • This EY financial planning benefit is offered by the Board of Pensions at no cost and includes online tools and personal financial advising with a team of certified planners.
  5. Receive the grant application. After the program administrator, Ruth Adams, receives the assessment from EY, verifying completion of counseling, you will be emailed the application for grant funds. The grant can be applied to the following:
    • Personal loan debt. To help reduce or eliminate the pastor’s personal debt, a payment is sent directly to the pastor. This option may require verification of payment.
    • Student loan debt. To help reduce or eliminate the pastor’s educational debt, a representative from PeopleJoy Educational Debt Reduction Firm contacts the pastor via email, and a one-time payment is made directly to the educational lender. Further financial counseling through PeopleJoy, specific to student loan debt, is available at no cost.
    • Retirement Savings Plan (RSP) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a 403(b)(9) plan. To boost personal savings in the Retirement Savings Plan, a check is issued to the pastor's church for an employer contribution.
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).
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