This article may contain references to PCA Retirement & Benefits (RBI), which has since been renamed Geneva Benefits Group. Learn more about our name change here.

What Do Widows and Millennials Have In Common?

The PCA’s Ministerial Relief fund provides critical financial help to support widows.

You’re probably familiar with the financial plight of many modern-day millennials: drowning in student debt, supplementing their income with part-time jobs, struggling to pay rent and insurance premiums with nothing left to build a savings account or contribute to their retirement. The net worth of Americans under the age of 35 has fallen by more than a third since 1996, according to a study by Deloitte. It is increasingly difficult for millennials to make ends meet. It takes work to become financially secure.

Imagine being financially vulnerable except you’re single and over the age of 70. That’s the reality for most widows.


Many PCA pastors are not prepared for retirement, and that means their widows need all the help they can get. Recently we heard a story from Anna, one of our pastor’s wives. Anna’s husband, Robert, was a pastor who, late in his ministry, lost his retirement pay after feeling called to leave the PCUS for the PCA. While Anna’s husband never talked or complained about losing his retirement, money was tight.

As Robert grew older, his favorite song became “Little is Much if God is in it.” While Robert and Anna never had much and sometimes had nothing at all, they trusted God to provide for them. But Anna is a widow now and she is struggling to make ends meet. Anna’s vulnerable situation is one that far too many pastors’ wives find themselves in after their husband’s passing. Your donation to the PCA Relief Fund is one of many ways that God blesses and provides for Anna and other PCA Pastor’s Widows.

According to the nonprofit Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), half of widows experience a household income decline of 50% or more after the death of a spouse. Trying to become financially secure is especially hard for recently widowed women. Another statistical analysis by the Social Security Administration shows that there were 4.5 million Americans over the age of 65 living in poverty in 2016 and two-thirds of them were women.

The financial burdens that come with losing a partner are immense and immediate, and many women are not equipped to deal with the sudden cost of mortgage or rent. A 2018 survey by Merril Lynch and New Wave showed that only 14% of widows were making financial decisions by themselves before their spouse died and 69% of widows said “becoming the sole financial decision-maker” was the top financial challenge for them.

The financial situation that widows are forced into following the death of a spouse is not unlike the predicament someone in their 20s might find themselves in after moving out of their parent’s home or graduating college. Suddenly everything becomes expensive and you’re saddled with recurring payments for which you aren’t prepared. You have to hustle and find work to keep up. For a twenty-something female that might look like becoming an Uber driver at night, finding a roommate to save on rent, or selling handiwork online. For a widow, cutting costs can look like canning vegetables, selling household items, moving in with family members, or relocating to a cheaper home.

It isn’t unusual for pastors’ widows to have incomes close to or below the Federal Poverty Level. Many served under a low salary structure and were not able to adequately participate in a retirement plan. It’s hard for them to keep up with basic bills, but there is a way to help. The PCA Ministerial Relief Offering is designed to provide assistance to retired and disabled pastors, their widows, and dependent children in need through one-time, periodic, or monthly financial aid. Many of those who will receive assistance are single females advanced in age.

Learn more about the work of PCA Ministerial Relief and donate to help widows experiencing financial distress.

Geneva Benefits Group serves those who serve others, providing practical support for the financial, physical, and mental wellbeing of people who work in full-time ministry.

Geneva offers preparedness and peace of mind with solutions tailored to the needs of ministry leaders and staff.