Summer 2019

The summer edition is devoted to giving—paying attention to your own giving expressions as you lead your churches to extravagant generosity. Pastor Brandon Vetter of Legacy Church in Bismarck, ND shares his thoughts.
Dear Colleagues in Christ:

I was lucky! I grew up in a church community where we talked about giving and tithing without anxiety; it was and is simply a part of who we are as Christians. A piece of our discipleship is learning to give extravagantly of dollars, of time, of all the resources God has entrusted to us. At the same time, I experienced the challenges of giving early in my ministry. By the time Vicky and I were married, we were able to make a commitment to tithe wherever we worshipped, even if we didn’t like the church all that much!

Most people cannot start to give 10% immediately but giving something regularly and working a budget, a plan, over the years can get you to the place where you can tithe. I think it is important to be honest and open about our giving with our congregations. One might not be a tither yet but neither are most people in churches. They will connect with our honesty, and some will begin the journey of extravagant giving with you.

—Brandon Vetter

New opportunities

Scholarships for Rev It Up and Clergy Benefits Academy

Are you a pastor under 40 interested in attending Rev It Up Oct. 28-30, 2019 in Baltimore? In addition to great music, worship, and networking with colleagues, you will obtain more information about your benefits, clergy taxes, financial planning, church budgeting, and conflict management. If you want to know whether this is a worthwhile event, ask Dakotas pastors Holly Sortland and Valerie Hummel-LaBounty, or Minnesota pastors Jeff and Marianne Ozanne, Nate Melcher, Henry Dolopei, and Tyler Sit.

Any pastor—regardless of age—interested in personal savings and services, benefits review, clergy tax laws, wills and estate planning, health and well-being, and the sand and saltwater of the beach should attend the Clergy Benefits Academy Nov. 11-13 in Myrtle Beach, SC! Colleagues who can share their past experiences include Dakotas pastors Mark Gronseth, Quaya Ackerman, and Veronica Fleming, and Minnesota pastors Karen Evenson, Randy Koppen, Michelle Miller, Rob Kopp, Larry Kasten, Yong Son, Jon Marburger, and Leigh Brown.

To obtain funding for either of these two opportunities, Dakotas pastors should contact Leana Stunes, conference benefits officer, and Minnesota pastors should contact Diane Owen, Lilly grant program director.

Application process OPEN NOW: 2019 student debt-reduction grants

Ready to reduce your student debt and increase your financial literacy?

Apply for a student debt-reduction grant between now and Aug. 31. As a reminder, personal financial education is required as a prerequisite. Priority will be given to first-time grant applicants with renewals prioritized based upon seniority.  View grant guidelines and application / View grant renewal guidelines and application

Important reminders

The following grants and free resources are available until the end of 2019:

Financial planning is important for individuals at any age and life stage. One option is to explore Wespath’s EY Planning services through which you can complete an assessment and talk with a financial planner at no charge. If you are interested in additional options to plan for your future, consider the financial advisor grant, which allows you to choose your financial planner and develop a long-term relationship through the stages of life.  View financial advisor grant application

Around the Area

Emerging picture of generosity across generations

What does it mean to live a generous life? Does the answer to that question change across generations?

There is a tension that exists with many church leaders when it comes to the topic of generosity—especially when you add different generations into the conversation. Matt Randerson of Thrivent suggests that now is the time when church leaders can expand the definition of generosity and highlights the five most frequent expressions of generosity.  Read blog post

First cohort graduates from Nonprofit Church Leadership certificate program

Congratulations to the first graduates of the Nonprofit Church Leadership certificate program! Through this year-long graduate program, stewardship takes on a broader meaning as individuals explore and develop competencies around financial stewardship, stewarding community, stewarding vision, and stewarding of human resources. Welcome to the incoming cohort beginning this month!  View members of 2018 and 2019 cohorts

Helpful resources

  • Check out “The Why’s and How’s of Electronic Giving,” a Financial Foundations webinar, along with many other stewardship resources created through a partnership between the Dakotas Conference Finance Office and the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation. Other e-giving apps to explore include PushPay, Vanco, SimplePay, and  Related resources
  • Have you explored Luther Seminary’s Center for Stewardship Leaders? It contains a wealth (no pun intended) of excellent articles, concepts, and resources around current giving and stewardship practices.
  • Financial Management for Churches and Nonprofits, an online course through Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, is Sept. 9-Nov. 15, 2019, with a course fee of $100 for clergy (includes 3.5 CEUs and the ability to register a layperson for free). This 10-week intensive class was developed to support pastors and lay leaders who are tasked with overseeing their churches’ finances, but who may not have formal training in financial practices and planning.

Dakotas-Minnesota Area of the United Methodist Church
Diane Owen, Lilly Grant Program Director