In Support of Excellence

American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) has historically addressed the existence of injustice, poverty, societal systemic change and community transformation. ABHMS’ vision of equipping disciples, cultivating leaders and healing and transforming communities is largely predicated upon the fiscal health of each of our 5,200 pastors. A pastor’s ability to effectively lead a congregation to be an agent of transformation is significantly diminished when he or she is saddled with education-related debt, financial trauma and undercompensation.

ABHMS’ commitment

ABHMS, through the In Support of Excellence (ISOE) program, commits to equipping, supporting, encouraging and advocating for the well-being of American Baptist pastoral leaders by helping to alleviate the economic challenges and related stress they face. Education, professional coaching, collegial support groups and exploration of ministry models lead to improved excellence in ministry for pastoral leaders and congregations. ABHMS partnership enables pastors of excellence to transform the communities they serve into communities of excellence.

The ISOE program follows a cohort model and curriculum that address both personal and congregational financial status, including stewardship, generosity, debt reduction, financial management, lay leader effectiveness, mission planning and visioning, retirement planning and financial counseling for pastors. Pastoral leaders will attain increased awareness of resources, tools and information, allowing them to prevent or manage financial crises and gain financial empowerment.

Through ISOE, ABHMS continues its commitment to providing American Baptist clergy and lay leaders with an increased awareness of resources available to do the following:

  • prevent financial crisis,
  • constructively address financial situations before they reach crisis, and
  • better manage financial crisis, if it does occur.

ABHMS established the ISOE program in 2016 and continues it into the current phase via grants awarded by Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders.

Addressing a congregation’s financial wellness is central to the program. The goal is to assist pastors and congregations in realizing their full potential to achieve mission and ministry aims to meet the needs of communities they serve. Ministries of excellence are the desired fruit of the ISOE program.

Program components

2019-2020 Cohort 1 schedule (actual dates may change)

  • Application period begins: July 1, 2019
  • Application deadline: Aug. 28, 2019
  • Application review period and participant notification: Sept. 1-30, 2019
  • Orientation and Learning Lab Retreat: Nov. 7-9, 2019 (Future training sessions will be announced to Cohort 1 participants.)
  • Cohort capacity: 15

Eligibility, applying

To be eligible to participate in ISOE, an applicant must be an American Baptist pastor of an American Baptist church, submit a reference from his or her regional executive minister and demonstrate evidence of the following:

  • pastoral excellence;
  • significant financial hardship;
  • meeting the recruitment and retention goals of high-capacity church leadership;
  • strengthening the capacity of local lay leaders to effectively manage a congregational budget;
  • potential for increased congregational generosity and stewardship;
  • congregational matching support for Pastoral Ministerial Excellence Funds for debt relief; and
  • willingness to commit to full program participation and requirements.

To apply to participate, complete the online application by midnight on Aug. 28, 2019.

Financial empowerment for laity

ABHMS’ Financial Empowerment Ministries makes resources available to American Baptist laity who are interested in improving and increasing their knowledge and skills in financial management knowledge and skills, including budgeting, credit management, debt reduction and cash-flow planning. Two financial-empowerment resources are available:

  • ABHMS’ ministrElife online platform allows registered users to access financial empowerment Webinars and group chats as well as special tools and resources.
  • ABHMS participates in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “Your Money, Your Goals” financial empowerment program.

For additional information, contact:

Jennifer Sanborn
ISOE Director
[email protected]