Fall 2019

As we enter the traditional season of stewardship, consider the opportunities to deepen your learning through the Nonprofit Church Leadership certificate program, the Bishop’s thoughts on stewardship, and how to steward your own resources by reading the blog on clergy taxes! Plus, an extension of the Financial Ministry Grant!

Dear Clergy Friends:

Sacred trust. When we think about those words, we often think about honoring clergy confidentiality or respecting the integrity of our relationships with our parishioners. I believe that we as clergy have another sacred trust: to care for the money that people put in the offering plate. We have a sacred trust to care for those gifts and use them to support God’s work in the world. I think that is why I am a life-long learner—constantly seeking ways to further grow and develop my skills in caring for the resources of our church. I recently graduated from the Nonprofit Church Leadership certificate program, where I was able to learn more about maximizing the impact of all resources. It was another way for me to earn and honor that sacred trust I have with my congregation. I encourage all of you as colleagues to seek opportunities—whether the Nonprofit Church Leadership program or other programs—for life-long learning as we steward our churches.

In Ministry Together,
Rev. Jeff Ozanne, Willmar UMC

Re-newed opportunities

Nonprofit Church Leadership Certificate Program

We were excited to graduate the first cohort from the Nonprofit Church Leadership Program (NPCL) this past July and launch a new cohort of 24 Dakotas and Minnesota pastors. We want to share with you the variety of projects the first cohort completed, ranging from governance restructuring to year-round stewardship innovations. Do reach out to your colleagues if want to learn more from them for your own church.

We are excited to continue offering the NPCL to our Area clergy in 2020. We await the notification that we will be receiving another grant from Lilly Endowment to support this effort. Combined with our fundraising efforts to match the grant, the NPCL is one of several initiatives we hope to sustain. Read an overview of the NPCL. In early January 2020, we will announce the opportunity to apply to be part of the third cohort launching in July 2020!

Important grant extension

This is a good time of the year to introduce a financial literacy class to your congregation. But so is the new year when we are all taking stock of our personal financial health, an important element of total well-being. Individuals who feel they are financially stable are more inclined to be generous. Generosity leads to deeper spiritual growth. The Financial Ministry Grant is being extended into January 2020! The grant provides funding for Financial Peace University (Ramsey) or Freed Up Financial Living (Good Sense Movement) or even another option that you may have discovered is a better fit for your church. If you order materials and start a class in January 2020, your group is eligible for savings of $50 per order!

We often think of the fall as the season of stewardship and giving pledges. But can we broaden our thinking around stewardship beyond the pledge Sunday in the fall? Can stewardship be more than caring for financial resources? Can stewardship be lived into year-round? Bishop Ough’s stewardship points remind us that stewardship is indeed so much more than one Sunday a year when we hope people will show up with their pledge cards instead of avoiding this opportunity by skipping church altogether. You can create an entire sermon series around these perspectives!

Around the Area

Clergy Tax Tips

When it comes to taxes and savings, what you don’t know can hurt you financially.

Here's some valuable tips on preparing income tax returns for clergy offered by Marilyn Ziegler Perry, CPA. Marilyn served on the Dakotas Conference Board of Pensions, along with other roles in the Dakotas Conference. She has operated her own accounting practice for 36 years and now resides in Anoka, Minnesota.  Read blog post

Helpful resources

  • The Ten-Minute Treasurer is a new weekly video series from Dakotas Conference Treasurer Jeff Pospisil. These videos are designed for church treasurers, but helpful for pastors and the finance team as well—short, concise, and easy to understand. Check it out!
  • "Church Finances for Missional Leaders" by Bonnie Marden is a new and excellent resource of best practices for faithful stewardship. From personal financial stewardship to motivating generosity in your congregation, this book has it all.
  • Is your church financially healthy? Take the Church Financial Wellness Assessment Tool, a short, 10-question assessment developed by Rev. Randy Koppen, pastor at First UMC of Redwood Falls and a recent graduate of the Nonprofit Church Leadership Program. Contact him directly ( or 507-644-2000) with questions or to learn some of his best practices in strengthening your church’s financial health!
  • "Happy Surprises: Help Others Discover the Joy of Giving" by David Heetland, senior vice president for planned giving at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, explains that people want to give. This book shows how to turn these generous intentions into tangible help for nonprofit organizations. This practical step-by-step guide is packed with real-life stories about what works to create and sustain long-term personal relationships with donors.
  • Finding it more and more difficult each year to fund a budget? Stewardship campaigns falling flat? Ready to launch a capital campaign for new construction or renovation? Concerned about how the overall financial health of your church or organization is affecting its mission? The newly released "God vs. Money Participant Guide" and DVD will guide those in your church or nonprofit organization responsible for capital campaigns, budgets, stewardship, planned giving, and other financial concerns to get the most out of the advice and expertise offered by author J. Clif Christopher in his book "God vs. Money: Winning Strategies in the Combat Zone".

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