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UMMA Update, December 2013 (pdf version), No. 91
In this issue
- 2013 (or 2014) Dues Now Payable
- About this Issue and UMMA's Publication Efforts
- Seasonal Thoughts
- UMMA Gathering Short Report
- Pensions UpDate
- Report on "final" India Missionary Gathering
- Staff Changes at Global Ministries
- UMW Board Meets
- Notes From Our Readers and Elsewhere
- Passings Noted
- The Last Word(s)
2013 (or 2014) Dues Now Payable!
Send a check now for 2013 or 2014 dues! Just go to membership page to link to our PayPal account to pay your dues, where you will also find our treasuerer Dick Vreeland's address (). Individual dues are currently $30, while couples pay $50. Ask about lifeIme and affiliate memberships.
1. About This Issue and UMMA's Publication Efforts
Our vice-chair has largely completed transfer of our mailing list from Google Groups to MailChimp, where you can read the UpDate in a web format. A PDF file will be available for download for those who prefer it.
2. Seasonal Thoughts
The Festival of the Reign of Christ (Christ the King) is just around the corner and the first Sunday in Advent right behind as I write. Choral groups are gearing up for Christmas. The Pilgrim Place Chorale, one of the groups in which Helen and I sing, is among them. I have been surprisingly moved - despite the turmoil of United Methodist church politics - by the simple text of a piece for choir written by Charlotte Lee and Douglas E. Wagner. The refrain expresses both the urgency of God's call and the fact that this call is to the persons on the periphery, first of all - but also to "gentle kings and people all." As I sing it I recall that God has called even me to service and hear echoing in my mind that mantra so common in some circles of our church today: "all means all!"
Hurry, shepherds, run to the manger. // Leave your sheep and come.
Come with gentle kings and people all. // Hurry, hurry, run, kneel, adore,
Open your hearts to Him. // The world is born anew in humble stall.
May you also be reminded of the urgency of this call and its all-inclusive nature in this holiday season.
3. UMMA Gathering Short Report
The Gathering elected Doug Wingeier to replace Hugh Johnson, who has served the maximum eight-year term representing retirees. We also celebrated Hugh's presence with us after a massive heart attack prevented his travel in 2012. Both the Gathering and the Directors' meeting celebrated his and Fritzi's nearly 50 years of service in Algeria and North Africa.
Green light was given to try once more to plan a next Forum in 2015.
Concern for Pension and Salary Questions were a major part of discussion.
We welcomed Gordon Greathouse as MIR.
Our attempts to be available for teleconferencing via Skype enabled at least five persons from around the world to participate in at least part of our session. We were pleased that Judy Chung could be present to continue conversation left over from our meeting with representatives of staff and directors on Thursday.
4. Pension UpDate
Most of you should have received a recent UMMA UpDate EXTRA - twice in fact - sharing details of the Directors' decisions regarding pensions for missionaries in October.
Good news: For the first time since 2009 the "defined benefit" pension rate was increased. The new rate is $525 per service year, an increase of $30 from $495. This represents roughly 0.8% (eight-tenths of one percent ) of the 2012 DAC of $62,781 - the Denominational Average Compensation for clergy in the USA.
Bad news: Missionaries beginning service after 1 January 2014 and those who have not both (1) reached 50 years of age and (2) served 15 years or more by that date will not receive a "defined benefit" for future years of service, but a "defined contribution" of 12% of salary based on whatever salary Global Ministries is paying. Some projections see this as a potential pension reduction of 1/3 to 1/2 depending on market performance. All agree that the economic risk is shifted from employer to employee. Missionaries who have served 15 years and are 50 years old or older on January 1, 2014, are "grandfathered" into the current plan.
The email response link in the UpDate EXTRA on pensions was, unfortunately, misconfigured by our tech person (the editor) when the pensions EXTRA was sent the first time. By the time it was resent, all should have been working.
The following is that email:
A month ago Global Ministries Directors met on Manhattan for their second "annual meeting" of the Quadrennium and the UMMA Gathering took place in Queens near La Guardia Airport. A major decision regarding missionary pensions was recommended to the Global Ministries Finance Committee by its Pension Sub-Committee and passed by the whole Board of Directors. Look to the end of this UpDate for links to various documents related to the changes.
The Board's Pension Decision
One part of the decision was to increase the pension rate for prior years of service from $495 to $525, the first increase since 2009. While we, of course, welcome this increase, it represents the first time in several years that the Collins Pension rate has been set at less that 0.8% of the Denominational Average Compensation (DAC) for pastors in the U.S.A. (An unofficial goal for years had been to raise the rate ever closer to 1% of DAC, but this goal was explicitly abandoned with this year's increase to $525.)
The second change, of a more major nature, was the decision to abandon the previous Defined Benefit (with its guaranteed pension amount upon retirement for each year of service) in favor of a Defined Contribution plan (where an amount of money is deposited each year into a retirement investment account held and managed by the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (GBOPHB) which is available (plus account dividends and minus possible market losses) to the missionary upon retirement to be paid out by one of various plans available from GBOPHB. The main feature of the change for GBGM is that a large portion of the risk of financial loss due to world economic markets is shifted from the agency (employer) to the missionary (employee). Of greater import for the actual pay out is that the amounts contributed are now derived from the low missionary salaries we receive instead of the DAC - compensation received across the church in the U.S. While the proposal accepted appears to offer a generous 12% Defined Contribution from the Board to the individual account (compared to other plans in the U.S. which offer a lower percentage), this is not a generous amount when based on sacrificially low salaries. Some projections suggest it could in some cases cut actual pension to one-third to one-half of the level of the current plan.
The Directors' decision does not affect all missionaries in the same way, but effectively creates four groups.
- Those who are already retired will clearly continue on their current plan, with whatever adjustments in service rate the Directors choose to make in future years - adjustments which have fallen further behind U.S. pastors' pensions in the past five years.
- Those who have already served at least 15 years and are 50 years of age and older will also continue on the current plan into retirement.
- Those who have not yet served 15 years or who are not yet 50 years old will continue to hold service year credit and receive the Defined Benefit for years served prior to 2014, but will have a second retirement benefit based on Defined Contribution for years beginning in 2014.
- Those who begin service after 2013 will have only the Defined Contribution account based on whatever salaries are offered them.
A few weeks prior to the meetings of the Directors and the Gathering, Dakin Cook, missionary representative on the Board committee looking at missionary pensions reported on intentions to begin a process in 2014 to discontinue the plan for missionary pensions based on a Defined Benefit for years of service and replace them for some current and all future missionaries with a Defined Contribution plan. Dakin reported these plans to our own task force on pensions and benefits and our Steering Committee. After several weeks of reflecting on what this might mean there developed missionary opposition to the plan which led to strong expressions of disappointment from both sides in the regular consultation among representatives of UMMA, staff and Directors.
Amendments to the proposal intended to mitigate some of the more troubling aspects of the change have opened the door to more conversations in preparation for the next Board meeting.
UMMA's task force and the UMMA Steering Committee have prepared a statement and sent it to the Board's Pension Sub-Committee which is meeting in person and via conference call November 14 and again in February. Although Dakin Cook, our official representative to the group, is traveling and unable to participate, both UMMA Chair Jim Dwyer and Missionary in Residence Gordon Greathouse will be on the call or physically present.
UMMA leadership would especially like to have further input from those missionaries who have not yet reached age 50 or who have not yet served 15 years, since these are the persons most immediately affected by the changes. Please respond with your input to .
Before responding, however, you may want to read the following documents available to read online or to download:
- Resolution (pdf) to make the change, as passed by the Board including four amendments by Scott Atnip, one of two liaisons from the Board of Directors to UMMA and the missionary community, calling for a review and possible improvements at the April Board meeting
- Powerpoint presentation (converted to pdf format) prepared by the Board of Pensions showing various scenarios and outcomes resulting from the changes as accepted
- Response prepared by UMMA to support further conversations with the Board's Pensions Sub-Committee in. November and February
- Questionnaire (Word format) for your use, if you would like to respond with a hard copy or by sending thie form as an email attachment to the email address .
However, no responses have been received beyond our "test" messages. If you did send or intended to send a message, please see if you can find your message and resend it - or write that message today and send it to . We will not pass on your responses beyond our Administrative Council and Pension Task Force. (The Steering Committee will receive a summary report.) UMMA would like to be able to be faithful in representing those people most directly affected by the change to Defined Contribution. The group includes both all missionaries under 50 years of age and all missionaries who have not yet completed 15 years in missionary service as of 1 January 2014. Please share your responses. Gordon Greathouse, Missionary in Residence (), is also happy to have your confidential input as he seeks to represent us all "within the walls" of "475."
If there is no response, it will seem that all missionaries are happy both with the current salary levels and with the anticipated change to a Defined Contribution system of pension funding.
5. Report on "final" India Missionary Gathering
Mark Garrison (), 952.895.6086, and Dick Vreeland have collaborated to get this report on the recent India Missionary Community Gathering in St. Louis to us.
On October 18-20, 2013, sixteen former India missionaries met at Mercy Conference and Retreat Center in St. Louis, managed by the Sisters of Mercy. Frank and Rosalie Amos, John and Marj Balis, Bill and Rosemary Bauer, Mark and Nancy Garrison, Ted Halsted, Maude Johns and her daughter Nancy Erickson, Lyle and Willine Powell, Dick Vreeland, and Carlos and Saroj Welch attended.
In addition to catching up with one another's lives, the group spent time taking in local Indian dining options and Native American culture including an engrossing visit to the ancient Cahokia Mounds, in Collinsville, IL, which during Mississippian culture was the location of the third largest city north of Mexico and is now a U.N. World Heritage Site, as well as other local tourism.
The group also observed a Memorial Service in honor of seventeen missionaries who have died since the last reunion in 2011.
It was unanimously but sadly concluded, due to declining numbers of people able to attend, that such organized gatherings would be discontinued. Any financial balance in the Missionary Retreat Account will be sent through the Advance to support the Rural Health and Community Development Project of Clara Swain Hospital, Faridpur. The amount will be sent online on December 3, 2013, "Giving Tuesday," when all contributions will be doubled from undesignated Global Ministries funds.
Total years of service in India by members of our group of 15 was 324.
6. Staff Changes at Global Ministries
Two new staff persons are dealing with missionary recruitment and itineration. Patti Clifford () at 212.870.3851 succeeds Dan Randall as Executive Secretary for Missionary Selection and Accompaniment. Patti is responsible for the process of selection of missionary candidates and for developing strategies of effective recruitment and accompaniment. Rev. Richard Pusateri () at 212.870.3716 is Fred Price's second successor as Executive Secretary for Itineration. Dick works closely with missionaries - and with Conference Secretaries of Global Ministries and the Jurisdiction Mission Interpreters - to help with missionary itineration. Jaimie An - 212.870.3588, - is another person from whom you may frequently hear. She is Logistical Coordinator in the Mission and Evangelism unit coordinating administrative and operations tasks for Missionary Services program areas.
7. UMW Board Meets
Joyce Hill represented UMMA at the UMW Board meeting and filed this report (abridged):
Starting out for the October 12-14, 2013, meeting of United Methodist Women (UMW), I checked my NYC street map, my MTA subway map and my memory! The smaller size of its board made it easy to be flexible in use of places and spaces in the Church Center for the United Nations, (CCUN), the Alma Matthews House and the United Methodist Church of the Village (CotV) for this meeting. I was one of three welcomed guests, including Nancy Garrison, Executive Director of the Brooks-Howell Home and Dee Dee Hefner, representing the Deaconess, Home Missioners, and Home Missionaries Association.
Harriett Jane Olson, General Secretary and CEO, reported examples of how the organization is mapping its future as it relates to the needs of women, children and youth around the world. The full report can be found on the UMW website.
National President Yvette Richards shared the importance of being connected to other United Methodist Women across the country. The committee planning the national Assembly in April exuded enthusiasm to assure that each board member is committed to "Make It Happen!"
Martha S. Knight, treasurer, gave a report which left me impressed by the efforts taken to determine the original intent of the donors of the endowment funds of the organization and to assure that funds are used to fulfill that purpose. The auditors' report confirmed the monies are indeed used for mission across the connection. Wespath manages the funds, which assures that they meet the denomination guidelines for investments.
Governance, Planning and Assessment, and Finance committees worked efficiently and seriously. Ongoing communication among the members makes the twice a year face-to face meetings most efficient.
I encourage UMMA members to visit the UMW website frequently to be aware of how this group of women, organized for mission, is living into the future as they live up to putting "faith, hope and love in action." I am grateful to them and UMMA for letting me participate in their meetings. - Joyce Hill
8. Notes From Our Readers and Beyond
Carolyn Belshe recommends a listserv for mission publications at Yale.
Katherine Parker is the star of the "featured video" in the October ConnectNMission issue. Click the link to hear her discuss her work in Nepal.
Where can we afford to live? may be a question nagging at missionaries as they approach retirement. A contact has shared the word that Frasier Meadows retirement community in Boulder, CO, has housing for retired missionaries at a price reduction, when available. Mountain View United Methodist Church owns three efficiency apartments in the complex which can be made available to missionaries. The usual entrance fee is waived for missionaries who meet the prerequisites and a reduced monthly rate is charged once admission has been arranged. Application for this benefit must be approved by the Mountain View church, while application for admission must be made directly with Frasier Meadows. You may contact Rose Whitley () for additional information. Information is available at Frasier Meadows, 350 Ponca Place, Boulder, CO 80303, 303.499.4888. (Unfortunately, parts of the Frasier Meadows complex were impacted by the recent Boulder flooding. A number of residents are temporarily displaced, so that the facility is currently unable to anticipate receiving new residents until the damage has been dealt with.)
Pilgrim Place in Claremont, CA, also waives the normal entry fee for a limited number of admissions to qualifying applicants without the necessary initial payment each year. In recent years, several of this no-admission-fee placements have gone wanting each year. Once admittedly an endowment fund ensures that no one must leave for lack of resources. See the website for contact information or contact Gisele Tackoor () at 909.399.5504, Pilgrim Place, 625 Mayflower Road, Claremont, CA 91711.
Gordon Fletcher Anderson recently wrote in a handwritten letter from Key West, Florida, "Thank you for mailing me the current UMMA UpDate by 'snail mail.' I do not have a convenient way of receiving the bulletins electronically." His note continues to ask for the new address of another UMMA member whose move was previously mentioned in the UpDate. Gordon's note gives us a wonderful opportunity to thank Gene Matthews for his faithful printing and mailing of UMMA UpDate issues in hardcopy for those older members who, like Gordon, "don’t do email"! Thanks also to his local church which generously provides copier, paper and mailing supplies for this purpose. A recent count showed roughly 30 such recipients of postal versions of the UpDate.
Rev. Gil Dawes' reflections on his participation in the March on Washington, August 28, 1963, have been linked from our UMMA Blogspot.
The United Methodist Church's agencies' "Human Rights and Investment Ethics Task Force" met in July. A press release is available here. The Purpose Statement of the task force is “to identify resources, principles and procedures that express our commitment to human rights taking into account fiduciary responsibility and ministry priorities consistent with the global mission of The United Methodist Church.”
9. Passings Noted
We recently received word of the death of Dr. Calvin H. Reber, Jr., 96, on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at Menno Haven in Chambersburg, PA. Reber retired as Professor of Evangelism and World Missions at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH in 1983. He was a missionary in China 1939-1942 and 1946-1951. Surviving are a daughter, Vera Blinn Reber, a son, James C. Reber, their spouses, and other relatives. Gifts may be made to the Center for the EUB Heritage at United. See obituary here or here.
The Rev. Hector Manuel Navas, 79, a founder of MARCHA - Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans - died September 18, 2013, in Tarpon Springs, FL. Navas served as a pastor, missionary, executive of different United Methodist institutions, and member of several boards and agencies at the general church and annual conference levels.
The Reverend Dr. Leta Belle Mills Gorham, 78, died, September 5, 2013.. She and her late spouse of 34 years, Rev. Jack Dean Gorham, traveled the world doing mission work with the United Methodist Church. From 1974-1987 they raised their children in the Dallas/Plano, TX area. She later returned to the mission field and traveled to Nepal and South Korea teaching and preaching the Gospel. See her obituary here.
Harold Leon Morrical, 84, of Franklin, Ind., a retired Elder of the Indiana Conference, died Wednesday, September 4, 2013. He is survived by his wife Virginia (address available from the editor). In the early 1990s he served as Overseas Coordinator for "Operation Classroom" for Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Joyce Hill reports the death of Frances Burns, 99, on August 8, 2013, at Brooks-Howell Home. Frances served as a missionary to Brazil, 1949-1979. A planned 100th birthday celebration on September 14 became a memorial celebration (pdf).
Delaine De Hainaut reports the death of her only child, Raymond Marc De Hainaut, 55, on July 22, 2013. He died one day short of the fifteenth anniversary of the death of his father, Ray, senior. Ray and Delaine were missionaries in Central and South America, where Marc grew up speaking English and Spanish. Our prayers are with Delaine and with Marc's family.
The life of Deaconess Nazgul 'Naz' William ended abruptly July 17, 2013, in Beijing, China, where she was one of two people stabbed by a young man in what was reported as a random act of violence due to mental illness. She was traveling after attending the World Diakonia conference in Berlin, Germany. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, she became the first Pakistani deaconess of The United Methodist Church at her commissioning in 2005. She had served at the Brooks-Howell Home in Asheville, N.C., and was translating materials from the UMW Bible Women Program into Urdu. While on study leave she held UMW offices at Christ Church United Methodist in New York, N.Y., and the New York Conference United Methodist Women. She is survived by a brother and seven sisters. Memorial services were planned in Pakistan, in New York, and at the Brooks-Howell Home in Asheville, N.C. (See obituary here. View a set of photos of Nazgul William on Flickr here.)
10. The Last Word
It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences. - Audre Lorde
"Linking mission workers worldwide and moving forward"
|Last Modified: 15 December 2013
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