Pathways to Vitality, a financial literacy initiative of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, is a six-year program funded by Lilly Endowment designed for clergy and lay leaders to facilitate well-informed and honest conversations about money.
Studies conducted by Lilly Endowment Inc. and others show there is a direct relationship between the personal financial health of a priest and the overall vitality of his or her congregation. If a priest struggles with debilitating financial stress, ministerial excellence, leadership, and decisions are compromised in the congregation. Everyone suffers.
The Pathways to Vitality initiative has three goals:
- To create a culture of transparency regarding clergy and parish finances in our congregations through financial literacy education.
- To enhance ministerial innovation, vitality and sustainability in our congregations.
- To implement a Ministerial Excellence Fund to provide financial support to clergy, seminarians and their families to enhance their financial wellbeing.
Ultimately, we hope to raise the “veil of silence” cloaking clergy and parish finances so we can authentically share in the generosity of God.
Ministerial Excellence Fund
Financial relief and financial literacy education to clergy and families
The mission of the Ministerial Excellence Fund is to provide financial relief and financial literacy education to clergy and their families who are experiencing financial emergencies or distress. Recognizing the unique relationship between clergy and their congregations, the grant-making process is designed to be a catalyst for authentic and informed conversations among them regarding the unspoken financial challenges and sacrifices of ministry.
Seminary loan repayment
The diocese is committed to assisting its clergy in overcoming the barrier of seminary loan debt by offering loan assistance to active, stipendiary and non-stipendiary clergy serving congregations.
The Ministerial Excellence Fund provides $500 for loan assistance to each eligible person submitting an application. Additionally, the Fund will match the applicant’s personal loan payments made in 1/12th increments for each year of participation in the program. For example, a cleric participating for the first time will receive $500 PLUS a 1/12th match of personal seminary loan payments made the previous year. During the second year, the cleric will receive another $500 PLUS a 2/12th match of personal payments made, and so forth.
- Clergy who wish to participate in the program must submit the appropriate 2021 loan payment documentation and application to the Canon for Administration and Evangelism by February 15, 2022. Complete the online application.
- Payments will be paid directly to the lending institution(s).
- For clergy employed for a partial year, the diocese will pay $500 for the previous year. The 1/12thmatch will kick in on the cleric’s first full year of employment,
- If a cleric is able to make an unusually large payment in a single calendar year, the Ministerial Excellence Fund will match the payment up to $5,000.
- If a cleric pays off his or her loan during the calendar year, the cleric should contact the Canon for Administration and Evangelism to negotiate the final estimated match.
- The diocese through the Ministerial Excellence Fund provides assistance for seminary debt only at this time.
- Clergy receiving seminary aid are responsible for paying all applicable income taxes based upon current IRS and state guidelines for the full amount paid to lending institution(s). Please consult your personal professional advisor for more information.
Financial support from the Ministerial Excellence Fund is available to diocesan seminarians to assist with seminary tuition and living expenses. Please contact Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale, canon to the ordinary for administration and evangelism, for more information.
Financial Consulting and Counseling
All clergy and clergy spouses/partners may take advantage of personal financial counseling and advising for one year free of charge with Lisa Brown, CPA and MBA, of Highfield & Associates. To schedule your personal and confidential appointment, please contact Melissa Hickman, Pathways to Vitality program director.
403(b) Savings Plan Match
Effective January 1, 2021, the Ministerial Excellence Fund will match clergy contributions to new or existing 403(b) savings plans up to $300 annually (or $25 monthly). All active clergy in the diocese can participate by enrolling in a new 403(b) and committing to saving at least $300 annually. For clergy who already have a 403(b) plan, you will need to increase your annual contribution by $300. In both cases, the Ministerial Excellence Fund will match your new or increased contribution up to $300.
Pathways Parish Program
The Pathways Parish program provides an immersive learning experience to a cohort of parishes who are engaged in meaningful ministries and who are interested in strengthening lay leaders.
Supporting each of the parishes is the Pathways priest. This newly ordained priest serves a residency with each of the Pathways parishes. This experience will aid in priestly formation while providing the congregations with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.
The bishop, in consultation with the Canons, selects parishes to participate in the Pathways program. Learn more about the 2019-2021 parishes.
Contact Melissa Hickman, Pathways to Vitality program director, with any questions.learn more about Pathways to Vitality support this effort financially