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” October 28-30, 2019 in Baltimore? In addition to great music and worship, 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 if 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, 2019 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 Marbuger, and Leigh Brown.

To obtain funding for either of these two opportunities, Dakotas pastors should contact Leana Stunes, Conference Benefits Officer at Minnesota pastors should contact Diane Owen, Lilly Grant Program Director, at

OPEN NOW! 2019 Student Debt-Reduction Grants

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

Apply between now and Aug. 31, 2019. 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 one 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.  Financial advisor grants for all clergy

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.  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 which stewardship takes on a broader meaning as individuals explore and develop competencies around Financial Stewardship, Stewarding Community, Stewarding Vision, and Stewarding of Human Resources during the year-long graduate program. 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 hosted by the Dakotas Annual Conference Finance and United Methodist Foundations partnership. Other E-giving apps to explore include PushPay, Vanco, SimplePay, and Related resources for this webinar
  • Register for an upcoming webinar hosted by Discipleship Ministries: “When is it Time to Talk about Money?” on Thursday, July 18, 6:30 p.m. How can we talk with our members about how God can use their money to transform the world and about the importance of handling money well? Join Rev. Dr. Ken Sloane, director of stewardship and generosity at Discipleship Ministries, as we explore ways to have both kinds of “money talks” with your congregation.
  • Have you explored Luther Seminary’s Center for Stewardship Leaders with a wealth (no pun intended) of excellent articles, concepts, and resources around current giving and stewardship practices?
  • Financial Management for Churches and Nonprofits online course will be held Sept. 9 - Nov. 15, 2019 with a course fee of $100 for clergy (includes 3.5 CEUs and ability to register a layperson for free). This 10-week intensive online course was developed to support pastors and their lay leaders who are tasked with overseeing their church’s 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