During the 2021 Annual Conference session, the Conference approved a motion to no longer collect apportionments for payment of pre-1982 pension and benefits. The obligation for the funding of the pensions and the yearly increase of the past service rate has been met.
In these trying and uncertain times, the South Georgia Conference Council on Finance and Administration and Board of Pension and Health Benefits have worked hard to save South Georgia local churches money and ease the burden of apportionments.
One way they’ve been able to do this is by completing the payment of the pre-1982 pension obligations. This finishes an obligation first undertaken in the mid-1980s. In addition, the Board of Pensions funded the Pre-82 pension at a level which should provide for an annual 2 percent increase to retirees, without an annual apportionment.
“Retirees don’t need to be concerned because the funds have already been paid into Wespath. This increase has been pre-paid and is secure,” said Dr. Derek McAleer, Director of Administrative Services.
This would result in a decrease in apportionment askings over the next five to six years, from approximately $200 to $10,000 per year, depending on church size, he said.
The Conference had planned and budgeted to pay the pre-1982 retiree pension and benefits increase over the next five to six years, but instead paid the $1.2 million in full in late 2020. Doing so brings financial relief to local churches, Dr. McAleer said.
“Taking care of (it) now means that the burden isn’t left for the future to handle,” he said. “We think local churches will be appreciative of the relief.”
To be able to make the large payment, money was pooled from a variety of sources: investment income, money raised for pre-82 pensions but not yet applied, money from pension funds, and the apportionment from 2020.
Dr. Don Kea, a retired pastor who until last August served on the Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, says this is an important step.
“This is a huge, wonderful step for our conference to take for those people who have served prior to 1982,” Dr. Kea said. “It means that the unfunded liability for people who served prior to 1982 are now covered fully for their pensions. It increased the pension by a little more than $1,000 per year for people who had at least 20 years in, which made a big difference.”
Rev. Mike Lyons, senior pastor at Claxton First United Methodist Church, served on the Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits in the 90s when Dr. Kea served as chairman. He remembers when there was hope that the pension liability would be funded by the early 2020s.
“This is a very, very big deal for this Conference,” Rev. Lyons said during the Annual Conference session. “I am grateful to see this day arrive. We don’t always get to see such days.”
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