CPG/ECF holds first Success After Seminary conference of 2019 in Chattanooga TN

May 20, 2019

The Church Pension Group (CPG), in collaboration with the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF), hosted their fifth Success After Seminary (SAS) conference in Chattanooga, TN on March 29th - 30th of this year as part of ECF’s Lilly Endowment National Initiative.

As with the past SAS conferences, these two-day events provide an orientation and introduction to issues of pension and future benefits, personal finances, leadership development, parish finance and administration, transitioning from seminary to parish ministry and resources available from ECF, CPG and other organizations. Participants are informed on how to access outside assistance during this critical formation/deployment process, the value of meaningful networking opportunities and the need for ongoing resources and tools. These events are also open to the spouses/partners of seminarians who convene in a separate session to discuss common challenges and opportunities.

Attending this SAS were 30 seminarians and their spouses/partners representing 22 dioceses from the following seminaries and schools of theology: Candler School of Theology (Emory University), Seminary of the Southwest (University of the South) and Vanderbilt Divinity School (Vanderbilt University).

Although the subject matter may differ slightly based on the needs of each group, one concern expressed by participants and their partners remains consistent – anxiety stemming from seminary debt and the impact on the well-being of participants.

In response to this need, ECF developed a secondary pilot program through its Ministerial Excellence (MEF) grant program. Seminarians/priests who had participated in any of the four SAS events were invited to apply for a grant ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 to be used to pay down their seminary debt. In 2018 ECF’s “Seminary Debt Reduction” grant program awarded seven grants totaling $34,500. From 2019-2021, ECF will continue the program and will have $75,000 to award to successful grant applicants who attend an SAS event.

The next Success After Seminary conference will be held in Philadelphia on September 27th - 28th, 2019. Additionally, a Success After Formation conference will be held August 10th, 2019 at the Kemper School for Ministry in Topeka, KS for alternative formation students.

For more on the ECFs Lilly Endowment National Initiative, click here.