By Haley Walker Klein

United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas Contributor

The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas was awarded a $20,000 grant for training aimed at increasing financial literacy for Arkansas United Methodist clergy and congregations. The grant was awarded by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church (doing business as Wespath Benefits and Investments) as part of its work with the National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders, an initiative of Lilly Endowment Inc.

“We learned through Foundation research that one of the weakest areas of pastoral ministry is financial stewardship interpretation and leadership,” said the Rev. Mackey Yokem, UMFA’s Director of Leadership Ministries and Grant Administration. “Our discussions with clergy revealed deep insecurity about financial issues. Our program’s goal is to provide greater knowledge about fiscal matters for our pastors for both personal use and the ability to offer congregational leadership.”

The Clergy and Congregation Financial Literacy Program will provide a faith-based stewardship syllabus in partnership with Wespath Benefits and Investments. Wespath, the largest faith-based pension fund in the United States, oversees the retirement and welfare benefits of United Methodist clergy members. The curriculum will target two selected cohorts over two years and will focus on topics such as interpreting stewardship theology, church finance 101, debt reduction processes, and preparing for retirement.

In addition to the $20,000 grant, the Foundation will contribute an additional $40,500 in funds to cover program expenses. “With the development of this program, we hope to help achieve the mission and vision of local congregations around Arkansas,” said Yokem. “We are committed to providing meaningful training experiences that benefit our pastors.”

The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas manages $170 million in endowment funds and other charitable assets that benefit local churches and other United Methodist ministries. The UMFA is one of the largest United Methodist Foundations in the country. Founded in 1963, it is responsible for over 800 funds that support United Methodist ministries.