By Melissa Wuske
Ministers Face Financial Stress
A recent survey by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) showcases the financial stresses ministers face. “The vast majority of pastors do not have their own radio or TV show, robust church staff, or megachurch attendance,” said Leith Anderson, NAE’s president. “Rather, they faithfully serve in small churches and face financial challenges stemming from student debt, low salaries, and medical expenses. And sadly, they often feel they have no one to turn to for help.”
More than half of those surveyed said the church they serve has less than $125,000 in its annual budget, and 50 percent are paid less than $50,000 per year. More than 90 percent said retirement savings was their biggest financial concern, and 84 percent worry they don’t have sufficient emergency funds. Medical bills, student loan debt, and saving for their children’s education were also common concerns.
The NAE is using the results of the survey to better meet the needs of ministers. “The NAE is committed to developing solutions for the financial pressures pastors face. We are excited to help pastors move to a place of greater financial health—freeing them to lead their congregations well,” said Brian Kluth, NAE project director.
Classic Toy with Braille
Lego has a new toy designed to aid literacy and inclusion for children who are visually impaired. The Braille Blocks are a collaboration with the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind. The prototype blocks are much like classic Legos, but the raised bumps on the tops are arranged in the shapes of the Braille alphabet. As a result, children who are blind or visually impaired can learn to read and write through play, and they can interact with other children, those with and without visual impairments, as they do so.
Youth Leads U.S. Hispanic Population
Even as median ages for all racial groups in the United States have risen since 1980, the Hispanic population still has the largest percentage of youth and young adults of any group. According to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, nearly 60 percent of Hispanics are Millennials or younger, compared to about 50 percent of the black population, 46 percent of the Asian population, and 39 percent of whites.
In fact 21 percent of Millennials are Hispanic, but only 15 percent of all adults are Hispanic. Most young Hispanic Americans were born in the United States: 94 percent of those under 18 are U.S.-born, as well as 65 percent of Millennials.
Voting Rights for Former Criminals
Nearly 6 million Americans aren’t able to vote because of past criminal convictions, and most of them (4.4 million) are already out of prison. Now people who were convicted of felonies, served their sentences, and completed parole in Virginia are no longer among those numbers. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order restoring the voting rights of more than 200,000 people. “People have served their time and done their probation,” Governor McAuliffe said. “I want you back in society. I want you feeling good about yourself. I want you voting, getting a job, paying taxes.”
The ruling particularly affects the state’s African Americans, who’ve faced legal barriers to voting and other civil rights beginning after the Civil War, and a fifth of whom are still disenfranchised in recent years. “There’s no question that we’ve had a horrible history in voting rights as relates to African Americans,” Governor McAuliffe said. “We should remedy it.”
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).