MMBB Awarded Grant of $500,000 by Lilly Endowment Inc.

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MMBB Awarded Grant of $500,000 by Lilly Endowment Inc.

To Respond to Pastoral Leaders Adversely Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic

NEW YORK, NY (ABNS 12/6/21)—MMBB Financial Services is pleased to announce it has been awarded a grant of $500,000 by Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of its continued support for MMBB’s Financial Wellness for Pastoral Leaders and their Congregations initiative.  As with all the financial education programs at MMBB, MMBB’s goal is to improve the financial health of pastoral leaders and, by extension, their congregations, and the communities they serve.

The grant was made as part of the third phase of Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders, which seeks to address the pressing financial needs of pastoral leaders who have been most harshly affected by the pandemic.  The grant is to be used for up to a three-year period to expand MMBB outreach and its ability to provide direct support to the pastoral leaders identified.

At the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, MMBB was swift to offer grants to pastoral leaders adversely affected by COVID-19, recognizing that some churches would close their doors and others might reduce pastoral hours to save money.  To date, MMBB has provided 167 grants to pastors totaling $575,103.67.  MMBB has also provided premium assistance grants to churches to enable them to continue to pay the premiums for members active in its Comprehensive Plan for up to 2 years, so clergy would not lose their life insurance, disability insurance or retirement benefits.

The grant initiative will target pastors in Baptist denominations who serve at small to medium-sized churches throughout the country, often in diverse and underrepresented communities, and who have not yet been served through MMBB COVID-19 emergency assistance and premium assistance programs.

In response to news of the award, MMBB CEO, Louis Barbarin remarks that, “On behalf of the MMBB Board of Managers and staff, we are grateful to be a recipient of this award and the affirmation it represents of our ministry.  We look forward to continuing our connection with Lilly Endowment as we work to further our mission, ‘to promote interest in the better maintenance of the ministry.’  We know there is an untapped segment of the clergy population that can benefit greatly from the financial resources the grant will make available.”

Since 2016, MMBB has been awarded five grants from Lilly Endowment, which have served as the foundation to establish and sustain financial education programs that offer in-depth programming for accomplished pastoral leaders through two primary initiatives.  MMBB’s flagship Strategic Pastoral Excellence Program (SPEP) is a three-year program designed to achieve transformative, lasting change for leaders and the churches they serve.  Our Financial Wellness Program (FWP)) is designed to engage pastors while they are attending denominational conferences (in-person or online).  Each initiative continues to have a transformative impact in the financial lives of the clergy and lay leaders who participate.  A recent survey of 39 SPEP participants amongst 35 who completed the program indicate that significant behavior changes have occurred amongst the cohort including:

  • Paid down debt by more than $798,000
  • Saved more than $970,000
  • Followed a budget: 97% at completion vs. 11% at inception.
  • Established an emergency fund: 86% at completion vs. 29% at inception.

Based on the learnings from our SPEP programs, the grant will also include an educational component as part of our commitment to build the skills that result in long-term financial well-being for each pastoral recipient.

MMBB expects to share details about the application and selection process early in 2022.

Please direct all inquiries to:

Ania Norori, MBA, ChFC®,
Director, Lilly Endowment Inc. Programs

MMBB Financial Services is located at The Interchurch Center at 475 Riverside Drive, New York, N.Y. 10115-0049, telephone 1-800-986-6222. For more information, visit the website at

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.