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AC OKs new pension plan for part-time pastors

By Jessica Connor

FLORENCE—In January, part-time pastors in the S.C. United Methodist Church will have a new pension plan.

  Currently, part- and full-time United Methodist pastors get health insurance and pension paid by their local church; the pastor does not have to put any money toward his or her pension account. But as was approved at Annual Conference, part-time pastors will contribute at least 3 percent toward their pension beginning in 2014; the church would match this by 9 percent.

  I think we ve done the right thing for the churches and the pastor; we ve decided to put them in a 403b plan, which is what most of laity who work for the church have,  said Herman Lightsey, chair of the S.C. Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits. It s a fair thing “ we can continue to take care of them but just a little different. 

  The General Church will administer the plan; the local church would need to agree to participate.

  It will protect churches and protect clergy and their families,  Lightsey said of the new plan.

  Full-time clergy will continue on the Clergy Retirement Security Program, or CRSP. However, the CRSP formula used to calculate pastors pension benefits will change slightly in 2014. The General Board is implementing a 20 percent reduction in the formula starting in 2014. The reduction will not impact current retirees, only pastors who retire after Jan. 1, 2014. In 2014, the formula will change to 1 percent, times the Denominational Average Compensation, times the post-2014 years of service, plus 1.25 percent, times the DAC, times the years of service between 2007 and 2014.

Changes in health care, too

  The BPHB also told the body that active rates for health care would increase. They were slated to go up 8 percent, Lightsey said, but they decided to raise the deductible from $750 to $1,000, so now rates will increase just 6.5 percent.

  Also, retired S.C. pastors, and the conference itself, will pay a lot less for health insurance next year under a new vendor, AmWINS, a major national provider of retiree health benefits, instead of the plan offered through the general board.

  Other conferences are moving to this company; in S.C., SCANA uses AmWINS for their retiree health plan.

The change will provide the same benefits for less money, plus allow the conference to take advantage of Medicare Part D.

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