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Pastor hopes program will aid faithful, church by fixing personal debt problems
By Lindsey O’Donnell SPECIAL TO THE TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
WORCESTER — Churches are spiritual centers, places where people can commune with a higher power.
But they are also essentially small businesses, with a budget, salaries, and a need for money to fill the oil tank and replace the windows.
With the country’s tough economy, many people are hesitant to donate their money to their church.
The Rev. Clyde D. Talley, the pastor at the Belmont African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Worcester, said one of the biggest obstacles to people donating is their debt load.
“Without the problem of debt in our congregation, we can focus entirely on the ministry,” Rev. Talley said. “Parishioners will be able to donate more money to the church, and then we will be able to reach out more to help the overall community. That’s our long-term goal.”
To reach his long-term goal, Rev. Talley has recently adopted a program called “Momentum.” This initiative aims to guide congregants to financial stability in their personal lives, and to increase parishioners’ fiscal generosity to their churches.
The Momentum initiative is designed by the Dave Ramsey organization, a company that supports those trying to overcome economic hardships. The organization invites pastors from around the country, such as Rev. Talley, to help carry out its financial educational strategies.
Church giving has not exceeded 3 percent as a portion of income in the last 40 years, according to the Dave Ramsey organization.
Personal financial approaches are taught to parishioners through several free nine-week sessions called Financial Peace University programs. The A.M.E. Zion Church plans to launch two Financial Peace University classes during mid-August. Rev. Talley said 1.5 million people to date have attended Financial Peace University sessions.
The A.M.E. Zion Church is the first in Massachusetts to participate in the Momentum initiative.
“My highest hope is to have the churches use this initiative to help free them of debt,” Rev. Talley said. “In addition to helping our church families, we can help the community by supporting the programs that are in place to help out congregants and surrounding neighborhoods. We deal with single mothers, people who have lost their jobs, and even those who think that they are financially stable.”
Besides helping congregation members achieve financial stability, the program aims to develop a long-term plan for the church that will reduce its chances of going into debt.
To find out more about Momentum, go to daveramsey.com/momentum/home.
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