DULUTH — A program focused on retired ministers and their spouses is providing up to $20,000 in grants toward health care expenses.
The Shepherd’s Fund, which also helps retired Methodist ministers, has already presented a grant to one retired Georgia Baptist pastor and is looking to continue that practice, said Kevin Smith, Georgia Baptist Mission Board chief operations officer.
Earlier this year a benefactor behind The Shepherd’s Fund had contacted the Mission Board, Smith told those gathered at the Executive Committee meeting preceding the recent GBC annual gathering. That benefactor, Smith relayed, wanted to give $2 million annually toward retired pastors with limited income.
“Many [retired pastors] don’t have the finances to [pay for] a major medical issue of some type,” said Smith. “They can apply for a grant of up to $10,000 for themselves or their spouse, or $20,000 for themselves and a spouse.”
The grants are for one-time instances only, but ministers and/or spouses can re-apply in the future for ongoing healthcare needs. In October, Smith shared, a retired Georgia Baptist minister went through the online application process on behalf of his wife. A grant for her medical issues was approved within days.
Addressing financial burdens
Jimmy Blanton, associational missionary for Columbus Baptist Association, led in establishing the partnership that has since been approved by the GBC Executive Committee.
“I’ve seen great needs from retired ministers who did not have money set aside for groceries, much less health care,” Blanton, who has experienced his own health issues, told The Index. “With these [grants] coming into their homes, it’s going to be a far greater blessing for them.
“We need this,” said Blanton, referring to the benefactor. “It’s an amazing thing that a man has that kind of money to give to retired ministers.”
Blanton was asked how it affects a retired minister emotionally and spiritually to receive such a gift.
“It frees them exponentially,” he responded. “The [financial] burden would be lifted. Most retired pastors are struggling to make ends meet and this will be a tremendous blessing.”
For more information on the Shepherd’s Fund please click on the links above.
Scott Barkley is the editor of The Christian Index.