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NC Synod joins Colorado group to help pastors and deacons in need

The North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will partner with the Rocky Mountain Synod in Colorado in a project to help pastors and deacons facing economic challenges. The project, Faith, Finances, Freedom, will direct monetary help and support for financial stewardship education. It is made possible by a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

The grant is part of the National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders, which is designed to help denominations, judicatories, church pension funds and other church-based organizations alleviate some of the key financial pressures that impair effective pastoral leadership.

In anticipation of the grant, the NC Synod recently established “The Lifeline Fund” and raised $104,607 prior to the news of the award. Now, the synod must raise matching funds of $250,000 for a total of $750,000 to distribute over the next three years. The support through the Lilly Endowment grant should enable the fund to be sustained far beyond the initial three years of the program.

NC Synod rostered ministers in need may apply to get cash grants to alleviate educational, credit card and medical debt. Those receiving aid from the fund will be encouraged to participate in some type of financial education such as Financial Peace University, a course which has been a proven help to more than 4.5 million students worldwide.

The Rev. Andrew Miller, pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Taylorsville, was first a Financial Peace University student and now has taught the course several times in his congregation. “This multi-week class, directed by Dave Ramsey, opened my eyes to a new and empowering viewpoint on stewardship,” Miller says. “I discovered that stewardship wasn’t some painful and compulsive obligation of discipleship. It was an opportunity to act faithfully, in joyful response to the gifts God placed into my life for the good of his creation.”

It is the hope of the Faith, Finances, Freedom program that other leaders will feel similarly empowered as they participate in financial education and learn to reduce their debt. The desired outcome of this fund is to encourage healthy leaders who can then lead vital congregations in flourishing communities all for the sake of the world.

“This is a gift of God! We are so thankful for the generosity of Lilly Endowment and the opportunity we now have to offer aid to leaders and congregations of our synod,” said Caroline Mocko, NC Synod Program Director of Faith, Finances, Freedom.

The synod is continuing to raise funds for “The Lifeline Fund.” Visit the synod’s website, www.nclutheran.org, to learn more about the fund or the program.

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