Central Conference Pension serves 2,831 retired clergy/surviving spouses and 9,000 active clergy in the central conferences (conferences outside the U.S.).
United Methodist Board of Global Ministries notes that central conference pastors who retire have no income. The board’s top staff executive, the Rev. Randolph W. Nugent, approaches his counterpart at the Board of Pension and Health Benefits, Barbara Boigegrain. No one knows if The Book of Discipline has language to enable pensions outside the U.S.
Global Ministries submits report to 2000 General Conference, requesting Board of Pension and Health Benefits begin a “Global Pension Initiative,” subsequently renamed “Central Conference Pension Initiative (CCPI).”
Boigegrain and chief financial officer Gale Whitson-Schmidt explore international pension models and interview multinational corporations. While the United Nations has a “lump sum” model, Boigegrain and Whitson-Schmidt realize this would not meet United Methodist needs.
Top executives of Global Ministries, Pension and Health Benefits, United Methodist Communications, The United Methodist Publishing House and the General Council on Finance and Administration form a task force to provide policy guidance. Each contributes $50,000 (in cash or in kind) to support development of a sustainable pension-plan model.
Educational effort begins across central conferences to learn what retirees have and need.
- The Rev. Paul Dirdak works with Boigegrain, traveling to Mozambique and Liberia.
- The Rev. Larry Hollon of United Methodist Communications joins Boigegrain on fact-finding tours, documenting interviews and providing video stories of retired clergy in need.
- UMCom develops CCPI website and designs CCPI logo; website moves to Board of Pension and Health Benefits in 2006.
A team led by Pension and Health Benefits takes fact-finding trips and conducts exploratory interviews in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Liberia and Russia. Global Ministries helps educate about needs in Africa. Challenge: Determine how plans would work in different countries; design a pension plan to meet immediate needs and be sustainable for the future.
Based on initial information gathering in 2006, Global Ministries works with Pension and Health Benefits on emergency grant program, paying $80 per year to retirees and surviving spouses in conferences where no pension exists. Pension and Health Benefits assumes that responsibility in 2008.
- 2004: General Conference approves legislation to raise funds for CCPI to help pastors in central conferences retire from active ministry with dignity, hope and income.
- 2005: The United Methodist Publishing House offers way for annual conferences to donate annual “Cokesbury Check” to CCPI.
- 2006: Pension and Health Benefits staffs CCPI. Dan O’Neill, managing director, begins fundraising effort. Bishop Benjamin Chamness chairs fundraising committee with a $20 million goal by 2010. Estonia — first exploratory visit.
- 2007: The United Methodist Church establishes first pension plan in Liberia and disburses payments. Philippines — first exploratory visit.
- 2009: Pensions begin in Mozambique. Donations come from annual conferences, bishops’ initiatives and individual United Methodist contributions.
- 2010: The United Methodist Church achieves $20 million goal and raises amount to $25 million challenge goal as data is gathered.
- The United Methodist Church achieves $25 million challenge goal during one of the worst economic times in memory.
- A donation of more than $200,000 from Discipleship Ministries (Board of Discipleship) helps achieve challenge goal.
- Pensions begin in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the last country to need a pension plan. DRC represents 19 percent of the worldwide United Methodist Church, with 2.5 million members.
- CCPI achieves goal. Pension plans exist in all central conferences that need them.
- A pension plan covers all United Methodist clergy and surviving spouses, no matter where in the world they serve.
Today, fundraising for the former CCPI has ended, although pledges continue to be received and paid. The related administrative and investment-management work is simply called “Central Conference Pension.”