2022 Annual Conference: Agenda, Special Offering, Resolutions, Disaffiliation Info.

Conference Board of Pension presents proposal for Retiree Healthcare Trust

1/31/2022

The Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits will present a proposal for a Retiree Healthcare Trust during the upcoming 2022 South Georgia Annual Conference session, set for June 5-8 in Columbus.

This proposal aims to secure healthcare coverage for retired clergy and conference staff of the South Georgia Conference no matter what happens in the denomination or annual conference. 

“You are probably aware of the discussions going on in our denomination about what our future looks like - whether we remain a single united denomination or split into one or more separate groups,” Dr. Ben Martin, chair of the Board of Pension, said in a video. “The future of The United Methodist Church is not clear at this point.”

The Board has considered what potential changes might be in store for South Georgia churches, pastors, and the annual conference. Over the past few years its focus has been on ensuring clergy pensions are as secure as possible, explained Martin. Meeting that goal allowed the Board to consider other retiree needs, such as retiree healthcare.  

The Board appointed a Task Force to look at the options and make a recommendation.  The Task Force reviewed how other conferences are funding retiree healthcare, considered actuarial projections for South Georgia clergy, and consulted with Wespath and other legal authorities. Members of the Task Force include: Marcus Tripp, co-pastor of Mulberry Street UMC, Scott Hagan, senior pastor of Statesboro First UMC, Connie Flannigan, healthcare social worker and lay member of South Columbus UMC, Derek McAleer, Director of Administrative Services, and Cater Thompson, Conference Chancellor. 

After much research and discussion, the Board of Pension believes it has found a way to secure funding for retiree healthcare. Below is the outline of the proposal:

  • We propose that our annual conference establish a Trust for the sole purpose of providing a healthcare benefit subsidy to retirees and conference staff of the South Georgia Conference. 
  • We propose that the initial Directors of the Trust be the Conference Board of Pension. 
  • Should our conference and denomination undergo some sort of separation, we propose the Board of Pension appoint a new Board of Directors that represents the racial, gender, and theological diversity of the clergy who receive retiree healthcare benefits. 
  • We propose the Trust be funded by a combination of investments currently available, all of which are presently earmarked for the benefit of our retirees. These assets are sufficient and will not require that we solicit additional funding from churches. 
In addition to an explanatory video, the Board of Pension has posted a draft of a full organizational plan for the Trust and a summary of the Trust as well as a Frequently Asked Questions document. (View video and all documents here.)

“The churches of our Annual Conference have been gracious over the years in providing for our clergy and Conference staff,” Dr. Martin said. “We are grateful that we have pensions and healthcare in retirement. Our Conference has already taken steps to secure pensions for our retirees.  

“Now we have the opportunity to secure support for healthcare in retirement. We truly feel it’s the right thing to do – and this is the right time to do it.”

After seeing the proposal and reviewing the materials presented by the Board of Pension regarding retiree healthcare, the Board invites conference members to give feedback and ask questions. Click here for the feedback form.

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