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Seminarian Debt Relief — Fund Policy and Guidelines

WordAlone file document

January 10, 2004

General Principles — as promulgated by the WordAlone board

The purpose of the fund is to help provide confessional Lutheran pastors who will serve Christ’s church.

It is expected that WordAlone (WA) congregations will strive to provide a living wage for their pastor, as well as assist in repayment of seminary debt.

This policy covers only debts acquired for seminary attendance, not college debts.

The SDRF Committee shall carry out this policy. The Committee shall consist of four individuals, appointed by the WA Board of Directors, who will oversee distribution of these funds. Reports of the collection and distribution of funds, including the names of churches and pastors receiving assistance and the amounts, shall be made available on request to any WA member.


In order to be considered for this fund, the following criteria must be met

The pastor is a WA member serving under full time call in a congregation(s). (Pastors who, for family reasons, are serving half time are eligible for a grant whose maximum is one-half the maximum.) The pastor must be on the ELCA roster or serving an ELCA congregation, and must have been ordained within 5 years of the grant. Further, in order to be eligible the pastor must have been ordained under the by-law amendment 7.31.17, Ordination in Unusual Circumstances, passed by the 2001 Churchwide Assembly.

Any exception to these eligibility requirements requires the approval of the WordAlone Board, as well as the SDRF Committee.


Local congregations ought to be willing to assist with the seminary debt of newly ordained pastors. Unfortunately, this is often not possible. If a congregation is unable to assist with debt relief, the pastor may apply to the Seminary Debt Relief Fund for assistance. Such application should include the financial status of the Pastor, of the congregation, and the amount of the debt. (There are no forms; a letter will suffice.)

The maximum amount of an SDRF grant is $5,000 per year.

The preferred means for assisting a congregation is to match funds provided or raised by the congregation.

SDRF grants are to be paid directly to the creditor, not to the pastor. The pastor whose debt is being repaid is responsible to provide the appropriate loan and contact information to the congregation and the fund.

If a distribution from the SDRF creates tax issues for the pastor, the pastor is solely responsible for any income and self-employment taxes necessitated by a grant under this program.