Aid Funds for Congregational Staff and Community Ministers

Assistance is provided to help eligible individuals with extraordinary health-related expenses, hearing aids/major dental work, coaching/counseling, emergency housing expenses, travel related to a family death/emergency, disaster-related damage, and similar “unplanned” expenses. We are committed to equity and to being mindful of the distribution of funds, however, the demand for assistance is likely to exceed available resources without your generous gifts.


Everyone should be treated with kindness and compassion, particularly in times of need. The Office of Church Staff Finances has various endowed and restricted funds that provide financial assistance to eligible individuals including:

  • Ministers and their surviving spouses/partners
  • other religious professionals and congregational staff
  • the surviving spouses/partners of deceased ministers
  • children of UU ministers and credentialed/certified religious professionals attending college

Financial assistance is generally limited to one-time emergency grants, although ongoing financial support is available through several other closely aligned organizations.

Application Information

To apply for emergency financial support (Living Tradition Fund), please submit your request using this form .

For some grants, an income/expense form may be requested to assist in evaluating the financial aid request. Please understand that aid funds are limited, and requests for assistance have been increasing in recent years. However, every effort will be made to assist eligible individuals facing serious financial challenges.

For Seminary Debt Reduction Grants and the Stipend for Children of UU Religious Professionals attending college, links are provided below.

The Living Tradition Fund . This fund was established by the UUA Trustees in 1990 and receives the proceeds from the offering at the Sunday Service of the Living Tradition held at each UUA General Assembly. Other significant income is received from offerings received during installations, ordinations, and other special collections held by local congregations during the year. The entire amount is distributed each year, with proceeds used for grants to reduce the burden of seminary student loans, grants to seminary students, and general aid to religious professionals and other congregational staff in need.

Debt Reduction Grant . UUA Debt Reduction Grants assist UU ministers to reduce theological school indebtedness.

Applications accepted between January 10 and April 30 for the prior year.

Recipients must be fellowshipped UU ministers serving a UUA-affiliated congregation, organization, or serving in a recognized community ministry position. Individuals may receive up to 10 annual grants with the maximum amount (generally $3,000 to $4,000) given during the first five years while smaller grants are provided in years 6 through 10. Grants vary based on outstanding seminary debt and total household income. The total amount available each year varies between $100,000 and $200,000 with approximately 80-100 recipients. Women recipients may be receiving assistance through the Ingeborg Haseltine Aid Fund which assists women UU ministers with their education-related expenses. Ingeborg Haseltine made a gift from her estate to establish this permanent scholarship.

College Stipend for Children of Religious Professionals . Applications accepted after August 1st for Fall enrollments. This fund provides annual scholarship grants to undergraduate students who are the children of UU ministers, credentialed religious educators, and certified musicians. In 2023, this stipend was $1,000 per full-time student and $500 for half-time students.

Fuel Assistance Grants: Grants are provided retired UU ministers and/or surviving spouses/partners to assist with their energy-related expense. Send an email to to apply for this annual grant which provided $500 during 2021-2022.

Other Funds Administers by the Office of Church Staff Finances

Alan B. Doran Fund. This fund was established by a gift to the UUA from the Northshore UU Society in Plandome, NY in 1983 (now the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock, Manhasset, NY.) Proceeds are used to provide financial support to ministers or spouses whose total family income creates hardship circumstances. The OCSF uses this fund to provide general assistance to eligible individuals as described above.

Annual Recognition Awards: The Office of Church Staff Finances, with advice from the Congregational Life Staff Group, each year recognizes the hard-work of several ministers by making the following awards:

  • Betty and Ray Goodman Ministerial Aid Fund. This aid fund was established by Betty and Ray Goodman to help supplement newly settled ministers, particularly those whose churches are poorly funded, at some point during their first three years of ministry.
  • The T. Ewell Hopkins Ministerial Aid Fund. This aid fund was established by Dr. Esther Hopkins in memory of her late husband T. Ewell Hopkins. The purpose of this award is to ease the financial burden of becoming or remaining a minister, so that our clergy’s minds may be freed to attend to their higher calling.
  • Westwood Ministerial Aid Fund. This aid fund was established by the Westwood Family, all of whose members were dedicated to successfully spreading the faith and nurturing Unitarian Universalist congregations. Awardees are recognized for their work promoting Unitarian Universalism.

Aid Programs of Related Organizations

The Office of Church Staff Finances works closely with several independent organizations that provide financial assistance to retired ministers and/or their surviving spouses/partners, and children including:

  • The Unitarian Service Pension Society holds trust funds that provide Service Gratuities to fellowshipped UU ministers who have reached the age of 67 and who have served at least 21 years in Unitarian Universalist ministries. Approximately 350 recipients receive quarterly gratuities averaging $400. To apply, contact the OCSF at
  • The Society for Ministerial Relief. Founded in 1850 to assure assistance to aged and infirm ministers in financial need, the Society for Ministerial Relief provides continuing quarterly needs-based grants in varying amounts currently to retired ministers or widow(ers)/partners.
  • The Massachusetts Congregational Charitable Society. The Massachusetts Congregational Charitable Society, founded 1786, provides needs-based quarterly grants to the widow(er)s or daughters of Congregational/UU ministers who served congregations in Massachusetts or Maine. Trustees represent the UUA and the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ (UCC), and grants are made to persons of UU and UCC affiliations. More information can be found at Massachusetts Congregational Charitable Society.
  • The Ryder Fund: Ryder Fund provides financial support to retired ministers and/or their surviving spouses/partners whose work and residence are located in the MidAmerica Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin), Mt. Desert Region (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming), and other locations within the United States if funds are available. The fund is administered by the Midwest Unitarian Conference and Foundation. More information can be found at the Midwest UU Conference Foundation.

About the Author

Richard Nugent

Richard A. Nugent has directed the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances (OCSF) since August 2008. In that capacity, he leads a team managing the UUA’s retirement plan, national health plan, and other employee benefit plans. In addition, the OCSF serves as a HR resource to UUA member congregations...

For more information contact .

Rev. Lora Brandis and Rev. Jacqueline Duhart at The Service of the Living Tradition, General Assembly 2014.
People sing at the Service of the Living Tradition, General Assembly June 25, 2011.