The Future is Now
The Episcopal Church faces realities unlike those of a century ago, fifty years ago, or even ten years ago as it considers how to deploy its human, organizational and financial resources in witness for the Gospel.
For many reasons we are now seeing more part-time, bi-vocational and non-stipendiary clergy. If part-time Church employment becomes the norm and full-time the exception, what benefits should the Church provide? How should they be funded? Would existing funding models work? Even if they would, should we consider alternatives? There are clergy and lay workers now who are not served as well as we would like by the benefits the Church has created over time. What would be more equitable going forward?
Healthcare in the United States is lurching through planned and unplanned changes that are likely to leave our systems more dysfunctional than ever – or, maybe, lead to a more rational approach for the nation. How should the Church respond, both in terms of CPF benefit plans and in advocacy for healthcare justice more broadly?
Even if we may have different perspectives on what that might mean, we can agree that the world is changing and so is the Church. The prudent position is to recognize that the future is now. In the spirit of the 1910 Convention, we should move forward, together.
In fact, in this triennium General Convention and the Church Pension Fund both have recognized that change is coming for the Church and its pensions and benefits, and both have begun to act.
Over the past months the CPF has been observing its centennial, holding public “conversations” on two topics that are practical and timely: The Demographics of a Changing Church and Investing for Positive Impact. (It is safe to say that neither topic was on the agenda of TEC or the CPF in 1917, when CPF operations began.) And effective January 1, 2018, the CPF introduced revisions to clergy pensions to “recognize emerging types of ministry and address the needs of interim ministers, bi-vocational priests, part-time clergy, and clergy who experience longer breaks in service,” as well as corresponding revisions to lay pensions.
The House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church was charged in this triennium to examine “the needs and work of the Church Pension Group and its services as they related to the changing church.” The report of the Committee is found in the Blue Book:
The published response of the CPG to the questions raised for it by the Committee is found at http://www.cpg.org/soc.
Both are well worth study.
In its report the Committee on the State of the Church proposes two resolutions.
The first, A060, is Create a Task Force to Study Church’s Pension System, found in the Virtual Binder at
The second, A061, is Create a Task Force on Theology of Money, found in the Virtual Binder at https://www.vbinder.net/resolutions/A061?house=hd&lang=en.
Whether or not either of these resolutions is passed by Convention this year in one form or another, the issues surfaced in these four documents will continue to be with us for the foreseeable future. The Church and the CPF have begun to address them. We need to continue.
If I am elected a CPF Trustee I will work to help TEC and the CPF to cooperate to deal with the issues raised by the changes ahead for the Church and its pension and benefit plans.