Special Gifts Shape New GUMF Program

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"We have been working on the Clergy Financial Literacy Academy Program (CFLA) for two years,” says Georgia United Methodist Foundation President/CEO Rev. Keith E. Lawder. “We want to help clergy develop better financial leadership skills for the challenging days ahead.”

Charles W. Buffington Jr., GUMF trustee and personal finance author, brought his considerable talents and enthusiasm to help staff develop a prototype for a three-day seminar. With gracious help from Dr. Derek W. McAleer, The South Georgia Conference treasurer and director of administrative services, GUMF piloted the program in early fall 2018. GUMF presented the overwhelmingly positive feedback to The North and South Georgia Conference Cabinets, which indicated the need for the program exceeded GUMF’s capacity to conduct in-person seminars.

GUMF’s next step was to develop an electronic delivery system for presenting financial literacy tools to pastors. With the help of grants from The North Georgia Conference, Wespath Benefits and Investments, the Lilly Endowment, Inc., a trusteed endowment from SunTrust Bank, and lots of time and expertise from Buffington, the CFLA Program should be available this summer.

Clergy will learn the basics of personal and church finance via electronic notebooks, skill summaries, and reviews. Then while working in small groups, they will participate in case exercises to illustrate how to use the tools for better financial decision making.

Buffington said, “Pastors will get to learn at their own pace and apply what they learn in small local discussion groups without having to travel or spend a large block of time away from home.” McAleer added, “This critical material is an economical alternative to in-person meetings while respecting the clergy’s time.”

A Chicago company, Urban Ministries, Inc., is creating the educational resources in an exciting format for remote learning. UMI Chief Innovation Officer Rev. James King said, “This is a groundbreaking program which will greatly benefit every pastor who takes this course.”