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United Methodists Pension’s Agency staying nimble

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.
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In times of turmoil, I am reminded by Psalm 46:1 that God is our refuge and strength and an ever-present help.

Wespath’s mission for more than a century has been to care for those who serve. We’ve adhered to our mission of caring through turbulent times and historic changes. We remain steadfast in our ongoing commitment to care for our participants, especially in these current uncertain times.

Your support of the World Service Fund apportionment supports program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church.

The last couple years have been traumatic. We’ve endured waves of the pandemic, racial and social justice struggles, and division in the U.S. Now there’s a major war in Europe for the first time in generations, and we pray for its victims and for peace.

We also pray for The United Methodist Church (UMC), which has postponed its General Conference until 2024. A new Methodist denomination called the Global Methodist Church (GMC) launched in May. We realize some of you and some local churches may be deciding whether to remain part of the UMC, join the GMC or take another path. Wespath is ready to support you through any changes.

  • Wespath is positioning itself to serve a future that will look different than today. Foremost amidst change, we are focused unwaveringly on the security and continuity of service to our participants.
  • Second, and importantly, Wespath remains committed to the continuing UMC for generations to come, as one of its core administrative agencies providing investment and benefit services that honor UMC values.
  • And third, Wespath is prepared to provide services to related Methodist faith communities.

I thought it might be helpful to explain how we will continue to support your retirement benefits amid the changes facing the UMC:

  • Lay employees and other individuals with an account balance in a defined contribution retirement plan – Changes in the UMC will have no impact on your relationship with Wespath or your retirement account. That might be the only sentence you need to read in this entire blog post.
  • Retired clergy (and survivors/beneficiaries) receiving pension benefits from Wespath – You will continue to receive your benefit from Wespath just as you always have, regardless of where you or the churches you’ve served end up.
  • Active clergy who remain part of the UMC – Your pension will continue to work as it does today.
  • Active clergy who leave the UMC (to join the GMC or otherwise) – For elders and deacons, your pension benefit will be converted to an account balance in a Wespath defined contribution retirement plan. For local pastors, you will no longer earn new pension benefits in the UMC clergy plan, but the pension benefits you’ve earned prior to changing affiliation will be there for you at retirement.
  • Local churches changing their affiliation (GMC or separately Methodist) – In many circumstances, they may be able to continue to sponsor Wespath’s voluntary retirement and benefit plans for their clergy and lay workers—and I’m pleased that some local churches have continued to partner with us in their new Methodist context.

We understand there are heightened anxieties across the Connection with this latest delay of the General Conference. Yet, be assured that the benefits you receive from Wespath are secure.

As the Church navigates this transition, we encourage all stakeholders to keep the support of pension benefits as a core priority, even where local realities require some adaptability. Caring for those who’ve served is a covenant that must be maintained in the face of change.

Rest assured that we’ll continue steadfastly supporting those who serve the continuing UMC, while also being ready to provide services to those serving new Methodist expressions that emerge.

excerpt from a blog by Andy Hendren, General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, Wespath Benefits|Investments

The World Service Fund provides basic financial support to program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church. Through World Service funding, agencies support annual conferences and local congregations in living out God’s mission for the worldwide Church. General agencies also provide essential services and ministries beyond the scope of individual local congregations and annual conferences through services and ministries that are highly focused, flexible, and capable of rapid response.

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