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What do many medical school graduates and many seminary graduates have in common? Education debt!*

What do a financially uninformed medical doctor and a financially un-informed clergy person who do not address their education indebtedness have in common? Stress and growing indebtedness.

What is the difference between a financially uninformed medical doctor and a financially uninformed pastor of the Indiana Conference? The pastor has the opportunity to receive assistance in reducing and/or eliminating his or her education indebtedness through the Rejuvenate project.

Rejuvenate is an Indiana Conference-wide project for clergy, clergy spouses and congregations. This project, made possible because of a matching fund grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., equips clergy and laity in the area of financial management and planning and stewardship education. There is an economic initiative for clergy.

Rejuvenate is for clergy who have much debt, little debt and even for clergy who have no debt. Again, the focus of Rejuvenate is to educate clergy and laity in the areas of financial management and planning and stewardship education.

What’s the catch? There is no catch. There is a commitment to create a new conference culture of generosity and not one of scarcity. The creation of such a conference involves the participation of all clergy and laity in the conference in an education program that assists them in the areas of financial management and planning and stewardship education. Visit Rejuvenate’s Web site (www.inumc.org/rejuvenate) to see the listing of the educational opportunities.

There are clergy who will benefit from the economic initiatives offered through Rejuvenate. Grant guidelines are also posted on Rejuvenate’s Web site.

Seminary indebtedness is a concern of many of the clergy in the Indiana Conference. Through Rejuvenate, clergy with education debt can receive assistance.

R is an Elder in the Indiana Conference. He has significant education debt. He is participating in the Rejuvenate project. I invite you to journey with R and his wife, as they journey from debt to financial freedom.

A Journey from Debt to Financial Freedom

By R

When I was growing up, we were raised with the idea that money was scarce, it didn’t “grow on trees” and to spend it foolishly was wrong. My dad was a baker and he worked long hours for low wages; even so, he owned the home we lived in and always drove a new, late-model car. A balance below $500 in the checking account produced major anxiety on his part.

My mother worked at a local nursing home from the time I was in 4th grade. Her minimal paycheck would purchase groceries and provide for my sibling and me, and my dad’s salary would cover everything else. Despite comparatively low wages, we still went on family vacations to such places as the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles and the Wisconsin Dells.

I learned early on the importance of saving almost every dime I made. My first savings account was opened while in the third grade. I delivered newspapers and remember putting almost my entire pay from my paper routes in the savings account, except for keeping a little out to purchase baseball cards and the latest hit 45-rpm records. I remember they cost less than a dollar. My senior year in high school, I began working in the newspaper office answering phones on Saturdays and receiving my first official pay check.

By the time I went off to college, I had $3,000 in my savings account. Most of it was used during my first year. At this point, I began to take out guaranteed student loans. My parents did not “put me through college,” however, my dad would send me a chunk of money every now and then, and my mom, bless her heart, tried to send me $50 each week. I was basically on my own.

I worked for the dining service at the state university I was attending, and that money helped to provide for books and other expenses.

By the time I graduated from college, I had amassed $10,000 in student loans. During my junior year in college, I was appointed to my first student pastorate – making $50 a week. We were married in my senior year in college. We took a honeymoon to the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, as my fiancé had saved up all of her money from working as a waitress so we could take the trip.

Read the rest of this story online at www.inumc.org/rejuvenate.

*Sixty-eight percent of seminary students graduate with debt from their seminary education. The average indebtedness from seminary expenses for these students is $40,658 (David Bell, “Extravagant Generosity” workshop).

The Rev. Michelle Cobb serves as project director of Rejuvenate.

Rejuvenate is for clergy who have much debt, little debt and even for clergy who have no debt.