May 18, 2005
|A UMNS photo by the Rev. Larry Hollon
United Methodist churches across Africa are struggling to provide better pensions for their clergy.
A UMNS Report
By the Rev. Larry Hollon*
United Methodist committee is stepping up efforts to address the plight
of retired pastors and spouses in Africa and other parts of the world,
where pension plans are minimal or nonexistent.
Liberia, for example, retired pastors receive $55 and surviving spouses
$27.50—in U.S. dollars—every four months. A 50-lb. bag of rice costs
between $35 and $40.
Africa, similar economic conditions prevail. In Angola, labor unions
are pressing the government to set US$300 as the minimum monthly wage,
based on the cost of food and other necessities. Retired pastors receive
$20 a month, and surviving spouses receive $15.
painful for our retired pastors," said Bishop Gaspar João Domingos,
leader of the United Methodist Church’s Western Angola Annual (regional)
Conference. "Sometimes they let their pension monies accumulate for two
or three months because the cost of transportation takes too much for
them to come monthly to collect it."
Conference Pension Committee, which has been studying pension needs in
the church’s regional units outside the United States, agreed during a
May 6-7 meeting in Washington to step up development of model
partnerships to provide increases in pension payments. The committee
also will begin communicating about the need more aggressively to church
Bishop Gaspar Joao Domingos
have authorized moving from talking to action," said Bishop Ben
Chamness, committee chairperson and leader of the Central Texas Annual
committee approved the first steps toward creating a fund-raising plan
to endow a sustainable pension fund for central conference pastors. The
United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits projects that a
$50 million endowment will be necessary to sustain the central
conference pension fund.
are going forward boldly, with urgency and with care," said Barbara
Boigegrain, top staff executive of the board, which is charged by
General Conference with administering the fund.
committee heard a report that 41 jurisdictional annual conferences have
returned a portion or all of their distributions from the United
Methodist Publishing House. Each year, the Publishing House provides a
portion of its earnings to the conferences to help support pensions for
retired clergy and dependents.
can elect to return those funds with the request that they be allocated
to the central conferences. As of March 31, the Central Conference
Pension Initiative Benefit Fund has received more than $800,000.
The committee also
authorized the Board of Pension and Health Benefits to develop a
staffing recommendation for a full-time position for the design and
administration of a benefit system.
Bishop Ben R. Chamness
Bishop J. Woodrow Hearn was named chairperson of a newly created
funding task force that will establish fund-raising policies and prepare
a budget for a campaign with particular emphasis on major gifts. The
task force will consider hiring a fund-raising consultant and creating
an internal staff position for fund-raising activities.
funding task force includes representatives from the Board of Global
Ministries, the United Methodist Foundation and the Board of Pension and
addition, the committee set aside $34,000 to interpret and promote the
need for pension support in the central conferences and assigned United
Methodist Communications the job of producing video, print and Web-based
information pieces. UMCom will deploy staff to three countries in
Africa in July and August to gather this information.
Board of Pension and Health Benefits was given the responsibility to
interpret the Central Conference Pension Initiative to the church’s
general boards and agencies and to begin preparation for reporting its
progress to the denomination’s top legislative assembly, the 2008
General Conference. Bishop Bruce Ough, leader of the West Ohio
Conference, will lead a task group preparing for General Conference.
Central Conference Pension Committee includes representatives from the
General Council on Finance and Administration, Board of Global
Ministries, Board of Pension and Health Benefits, United Methodist
Publishing House and United Methodist Communications.
*Hollon is the top staff executive of United Methodist Communications. United Methodist News Service is a unit of UMCom.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.