The Social Ministry fund (Non-member Assistance) is one of the “Missions” Pilgrim maintains as a line item in the annual budget. Missions and Social Ministry is set at 10% of the church’s annual budget. It has traditionally been viewed as a tithe the church makes to do some of God’s work. The Social Ministry portion is currently set at $6,000 per year ($500 per month). These funds are made available through the church office and a designated member of the Social Ministry Committee. Pilgrim usually receives several calls per month, but sometimes the office receives no calls. Any unused funds are carried over to supplement the next month’s base of $500, for instance. The majority of the calls come from people in Marion County who need assistance (a financial Band-Aid) most commonly with their rent or utilities, and who have been turned down for assistance by their Township Trustee. We help a person no more than once per 12-month period. Checks go only to the utility or the landlord. Very, very few churches in central Indiana have a program such as this.
The Member Assistance Program began several years ago as the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund. It was used through the Elders and the Pastor. Since it is meant for members, utmost discretion was, and is, needed, so knowledge of the members and their situation was, and is, currently discussed by the Head Elder and the Pastor only. After a while, the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund lapsed due to little need. Once we moved to our new location, new situations arose and a Member Assistance Fund was established to assist rent payments for a specific individual due to medical issues. This was managed essentially by the Pastor and a member of Social Ministry since there were Social Ministry Designated Funds available through the Treasurer. Since that time, additional members have been helped with rent, or other expenses, essentially due to either medical issues or other catastrophic situations. In the last few years, the Board has established a line item in the Missions budget for this and established that it will be managed by the Elders (Head Elder) and the Pastor with assistance from Social Ministry, if needed.