Monday, August 5, 2013

An Economic Issue you can do something about: Caring for the one who cares for you

Income taxes, the federal budget, the extension of unemployment insurance, subsidized student loans, sequestration, minimum wage, Social Security, the regulation of Wall Street, Medicare and Medicaid—the list goes on and on.  Each of these issues can be cast as a question of economic fairness.  I certainly don’t know all the right answers.  Do you?

There is one economic issue, however, where I will propose an answer:
Making provision for church employees and their families in the event of disability or death and insuring that they will have income in retirement is the responsibility of those whom they serve.  These church employees serve faithfully and sacrificially, but they will not serve forever.  When they retire, they will need income to sustain them.

The principal way that American Baptist congregations care for the long-term well being of their pastors and other church employees is through the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board (MMBB). The MMBB provides several ways that congregations of all sizes can provide for their pastors and other lay employees.  Whether your church employees are part-time or full-time, you can responsibly care for them through the MMBB. Several of the options:

Benefits for Life

A church can enroll their employees in the Benefits for Life program.  This option funds a 100% vested retirement account for the employee and also provides long-term disability insurance and a death benefit should the employee die while serving the church.  The church pays a monthly premium of 16% of the employee’s salary and housing allowance or value of parsonage-provided housing.  Thirteen percent of the premium funds the retirement account; the other 3% funds the disability and life insurance.  For more information on this program, go to

Retirement Only Benefits

If a church feels they cannot fund the Benefits for Life program at this time, they can choose the less costly Retirement Only Benefits program.  The church can make smaller monthly contributions or irregular periodic contributions.  This is a place that every church can begin.   For more information, go to

The Annuity Supplement

Once an employee is enrolled in one of the above plans, they can make additional contributions to their retirement fund through The Annuity Supplement by having money withheld for their paycheck.  You can find out more at

Each of us is limited in what we can do about national economic issues, but we can do something about an economic issue closer to home: the well being of those who serve in ministry.  As you church puts together its budget this autumn, make sure there is a line in there for MMBB contributions. If you wish to discuss ways that you can better care for your pastor, please contact me at or 315-469-4236 ext. 14 or visit

Jim Kelsey, Executive Minister                                                                            

As American Baptists of New York State, we will embrace God's future with these core values: honesty, connectedness and hope. We will uphold our operational values in every aspect of our common ministry.