Spreading the good word

Pastor and wife preach the gospel of financial empowerment

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Timothy A. Williams, 34, pastor of Detroit’s Mount Calvary Baptist Church, says Biblical principles form the foundation of his staunch commitment to financial health for his family and his flock. “The Bible teaches us about financial freedom,” explains Timothy, who’s determined to overhaul the trend of pastors devoting their lives to religious service, but retiring in obscurity without any life insurance or other benefits for themselves or their churches.

A master orator, Timothy’s persuasive powers helped him woo his wife, Lisa, 35, on a bus ride during the Yuletide season in 1984 when he was a student at Morehouse College and she attended neighboring Spelman College. They married in October 1986 and graduated a year later (she with a degree in chemical engineering, he with a degree in sociology).

The Williamses and son Kelvin, 18, remained in Atlanta for a while. In 1988, Timeka, 11, was born, and the family returned to his hometown of Detroit a year later. Lisa landed a job as a chemist at BASF Corp., a chemical manufacturing concern in Detroit, and promptly began contributing the maximum 10% to her 401(k). In the meantime, Timothy was hired as the youth minister at Mount Calvary, a visible post with no benefits. In 1992, Michael, eight, was born, and a year later Timothy was elected to pastor.

Dipping into their savings and borrowing $8,000 from Lisa’s 401(k), the couple bought their first home, a four-bedroom Tudor in Detroit. They also began investing $750 per month through American Express Financial Advisors in an asset allocation model comprised of 30% IRAs, 40% mutual funds and 30% stocks; the value of their portfolio is $62,000.

In 1998 they borrowed $10,000 from their portfolio and began constructing a new home, valued at $550,000 with a completion date of October 2000, just in time for their 14th wedding anniversary.

Deeply committed to teaching financial empowerment to his flock, Timothy was pleased when congregation member Weslia Echols, a financial advisor with Prudential Securities and to the church, launched the Economic Empowerment Ministry in 1998. In January 1999, the church invested in the Key Executive Life Insurance Policy, with Prudential Securities Co. which provides interim coverage for the church, in the event that Timothy dies.

By the summer of that year, the Prosperity Cometh Bible Study Worships were launched, culminating in a business expo, where no fewer than 35 entrepreneurs from the church promoted their firms. Timothy, overseeing a $4 million church budget, ensured that the elder-the overseer of the 50 ministries of the church-gained life insurance coverage.

Additionally, he implemented a scholarship program (valued at $100,000 to date) to deserving college-bound students from the church family and the community. All this stems from Timothy’s philosophy: “It is the pastor’s responsibility to perpetuate security for the church’s future,” he says.

Family Snapshot: Timothy & Lisa Williams
Household Income

Combined gross income: $100,000-$129,500
(incls. Timothy’s speaking engagements)

Housing allowance from church: 42,000

Portfolio: 62,000
30% IRAs 18,600
40% Mutual funds 24,800
30% Stocks 18,600

Household expenses (monthly): 3,300
Other debt: 68,000
(incls. mortgage, car note, student loans and credit card balances)

Expert Advice
Financial Expert: Weslia

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