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The Rev. Joseph Sunday: No nest egg after 33 years

To supplement his church pension, the Rev. Joseph Sunday, 77, serves as chaplain for Liberia’s Monrovia Central Prison. A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.

By Linda Green*
March 27, 2008 | MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS)

The types of churches led by the Rev. Joseph Sunday for 33 years did not pay enough for him to accumulate a retirement nest egg.

Sunday, 77, who retired from active ministry in 2002, led rural churches and worked on circuits where he would be sent to United Methodist congregations "that sometimes paid me L$25," he says.

Upon retirement, he expected to receive something from the denomination’s Liberia Annual Conference. Although he planned as best as he could, "it did not enable me to accumulate any money because of the kinds of churches I was pastoring."

In addition to a US$60 quarterly pension, Sunday receives a stipend as the chaplain/counselor for the Monrovia Central Prison. The United Methodist Church is one of several churches sponsoring the Prison Fellowship of Liberia.

Sunday says that in spite of his "inadequate" pension, he is grateful. He would like to see his quarterly pension increase to not only enable the purchase of a bag of rice, plus fish, but to leave enough money afterward for other needs.

"A bag of rice lasts a month," says Sunday, who leads a family of seven. Sometimes one of his children will bring in some money, but it is not sufficient, he says.

The United Methodist Church, through its Central Conference Pension Initiative, is developing model systems aimed at providing an adequate pension to retired pastors, surviving spouses and church lay workers in Liberia and elsewhere. More information is available at www.ccpi-umc.org.

"We eat once a day," Sunday says. "We are used to it. We adapted ourselves to that condition. We eat small bread, then we cook that one meal at the end of the day."

That is not unusual in Liberia, which is trying to rebuild after a long civil war. Says Sunday: "Most Liberians, now, eat once a day."

*Green is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green*Nashville, Tenn.*(615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.


The Rev. Joseph Sunday

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