New $1 Million Lilly Grant to Expand Financial Leadership Initiative

CHICAGO, IL (December 13, 2018) – The Evangelical Covenant Church has been awarded a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. This is the second Lilly Endowment grant to the Covenant through the initiative. It will enable the ECC to enhance and expand its Financial Leadership initiative to provide proactive coaching and other direct assistance to pastors, their families, and churches.

Lilly Endowment’s initiative supports a variety of Christian organizations across the nation as they address the financial and economic struggles that can impair the ability of pastors to lead congregations effectively. The Covenant received its first grant for this initiative in December 2015.

Since then, Financial Leadership has ministered to more than 400 pastors and spouses. This ministry is a cooperative venture of Covenant Trust Company, National Covenant Properties, and ECC Finance.

To date, the ECC efforts have covered three areas: personal financial leadership training, church financial leadership training, and the development of a Ministry Excellence Fund, which has helped ministerial families reduce debt of roughly $450,000 through both consumer aid grants and catastrophe assistance. Grant recipients have participated in financial literacy retreats, received financial coaching, and created finance-based projects for their churches.

As part of the initiative, National Covenant Properties offers an all-day Saturday training for church pastors, treasurers, and church leaders. The free seminar provides tools to help churches deliver good financial reporting, build healthy financial practices, better manage risk, and understand a broad range of essential topics from ministerial compensation to fraud protection.

The new grant will enable the ECC to expand and enhance offerings—including offering retreats at the local church level for laypeople.

The new grant funding also will help the ECC expand a piloted program to help congregations learn how to cultivate generosity in the changing landscape of giving. The program brings together regional groups of local church leadership teams that meet over the course of eight months. The new grant will provide essential seed money to serve as a match catalyst for under-resourced churches to contribute to their ministers’ pension.

“I am very grateful for the generosity of the Lilly Endowment to the Evangelical Covenant Church,” Pietrzyk said. “They are helping us shift the financial narrative of pastors and their families. Through the Endowment’s encouragement and help, we are providing resources that address the oft-neglected theme of faith and finance. Now through this new grant we will be able to enhance and expand the good work that has begun through our ministerial community into the local church in a deeper way.”

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About the Author

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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1 Comment

  1. This is great.
    How does it relate to the services Lily has funded to serve North Park Theological Seminary students?
    Personally, I did a Minor in Business and Economics during college, which I have felt was a great advantage in my ministry as a pastor, as a board member of several Covenant boards and other organizations, and most recently working in enrollment management at North Park University.

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