Author Topic: Perils of Church-Related Pensions  (Read 10264 times)

Charles_Austin

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2010, 04:29:02 PM »
I said I, too, was a regular customer of Augsburg-Fortress and Steven replied:
 ::)  ::)  ::)

I say now:
You know, guys, today you just can't rile me up.
My Orpheus Club Men's Chorus has its spring concert tonight and tomorrow afternoon. (Fifty guys in tuxedos and cool male chorus singing, oldies, a Welsh Laudamus, some Broadway, Schumann's "Der Hidalgo" and some other fun stuff.)
Tomorrow I finish up a pleasant interim pastorate with two morning celebrations.
Early next week, it's off to Minneapolis for some time with children and grandchildren.
Then comes the move to Geneva for the summer and work at the LWF headquarters there. I'm figuring we'll get a long week-end in Paris while the flowers are still blooming, a trip to Mont Blanc and Chamonix, and some hikes in the Jura before the LWF Assembly in Stuttgart in July. We'll scoot down to Provence maybe in August, or hang out there for a week or two when my term is up.
So.... No amount of  ::) ::) ::), or silly "Austin hates me" postings really rattles my cage today.
Everybody be cool.

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #31 on: April 24, 2010, 06:13:19 PM »

No amount of  ::) ::) ::), or silly "Austin hates me" postings really rattles my cage today.
Everybody be cool.

Oh, I'm quite cool with it, Charles.  Even the part where you completely miss what I'm saying.  Whimsey, nuance, and all that, y'know.

spt+
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Pastor Zip's Blog

pr dtp

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #32 on: April 24, 2010, 06:49:29 PM »
I said I, too, was a regular customer of Augsburg-Fortress and Steven replied:
 ::)  ::)  ::)

I say now:
You know, guys, today you just can't rile me up.
My Orpheus Club Men's Chorus has its spring concert tonight and tomorrow afternoon. (Fifty guys in tuxedos and cool male chorus singing, oldies, a Welsh Laudamus, some Broadway, Schumann's "Der Hidalgo" and some other fun stuff.)
Tomorrow I finish up a pleasant interim pastorate with two morning celebrations.
Early next week, it's off to Minneapolis for some time with children and grandchildren.
Then comes the move to Geneva for the summer and work at the LWF headquarters there. I'm figuring we'll get a long week-end in Paris while the flowers are still blooming, a trip to Mont Blanc and Chamonix, and some hikes in the Jura before the LWF Assembly in Stuttgart in July. We'll scoot down to Provence maybe in August, or hang out there for a week or two when my term is up.
So.... No amount of  ::) ::) ::), or silly "Austin hates me" postings really rattles my cage today.
Everybody be cool.

Luke 10:20....

edoughty

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #33 on: April 24, 2010, 08:54:27 PM »
I said I, too, was a regular customer of Augsburg-Fortress and Steven replied:
 ::)  ::)  ::)

I say now:
You know, guys, today you just can't rile me up.
My Orpheus Club Men's Chorus has its spring concert tonight and tomorrow afternoon. (Fifty guys in tuxedos and cool male chorus singing, oldies, a Welsh Laudamus, some Broadway, Schumann's "Der Hidalgo" and some other fun stuff.)
Tomorrow I finish up a pleasant interim pastorate with two morning celebrations.
Early next week, it's off to Minneapolis for some time with children and grandchildren.
Then comes the move to Geneva for the summer and work at the LWF headquarters there. I'm figuring we'll get a long week-end in Paris while the flowers are still blooming, a trip to Mont Blanc and Chamonix, and some hikes in the Jura before the LWF Assembly in Stuttgart in July. We'll scoot down to Provence maybe in August, or hang out there for a week or two when my term is up.
So.... No amount of  ::) ::) ::), or silly "Austin hates me" postings really rattles my cage today.
Everybody be cool.

Wave when you drive through Mpls!


shrimp

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #34 on: April 25, 2010, 01:26:23 AM »
Apparently the Augsburg Fortress Board of Directors is meeting this weekend.  That is the lead to this article on Susan Hogan's excellent pretty good lutherans news blog.  Not only does she offer a dynamite story about the increased secrecy enveloping AFP finances since the election of a new ELCA secretary, but after it she posts:

   * a proposed synod assembly resolution on the AFP pension plan termination (seems a bit economically naive to us; we like
       Pr. Tibbetts' idea of a special churchwide offering for special needs retirement fund for victims of the AFP pension plan);

   * a memo from Secretary Swartling commenting on that resolution; and

   * a message entitled "Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson's Response to those Advocating for Augsburg-Fortress Workers."

Any comment of ours on the latter two would likely bring out the 4th and 8th Commandment police, so we'll simply point you here to read them yourselves.   

Shrimp
Shrimp of the Shellfish blog

Scott6

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #35 on: April 25, 2010, 03:11:10 PM »
One thing this situation makes me wonder is whether or not the advocacy wing of the ELCA -- those whose job it is to advocate for justice issues -- would be willing to back up their advocacy with action, dedicating all the money that would go to advocacy to fixing a problem of justice within the midst of the ELCA.  I wonder if the amount that has been line-itemed for such advocacy per year could cover the year-to-year costs of the pension plan that was for A-F pensioners.  That way, advocacy starts at home, and the problems in one's own house are cleared up before pointing out those in your neighbor's (or motes and logs, whichever image you prefer).

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #36 on: April 25, 2010, 04:14:46 PM »
That way, advocacy starts at home, and the problems in one's own house are cleared up before pointing out those in your neighbor's (or motes and logs, whichever image you prefer).


Sorry, Scott.  It's charity begins at home, not advocacy.  Charity, of course, is also demeaning to those who receive it, and thus would be oppression on our part.  And we certainly cannot oppress others in the guise of helping them out.  So, not only would your suggestion not be appropriate in this kind of situation, it is precisely the wrong thing to do. 

No, advocacy is speaking to power on behalf of those who have no voice.  And nothing, not even the perils of our own brothers and sister, shall dissuade us from speaking for the voiceless in our society.

[/sarcasm]
spt+
 
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
Pastor Zip's Blog

George Erdner

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #37 on: April 25, 2010, 04:47:06 PM »
And nothing, not even the perils of our own brothers and sister, shall dissuade us from speaking for the voiceless in our society.
 

Especially those voiceless in our society who are likely to vote for candidates from the political party that invites our Presiding Bishop to meetings and photo ops.

(Sorry, I knew I should have resisted. The temptation to pile-on was more than I had the strength to resist.)


Bergs

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #38 on: April 29, 2010, 07:42:20 AM »
Of course defined benefit plans are in trouble all over.  It is a huge problem in Minnesota for government workers.  Legislatures and city councils have abused the public pensions by promising big unfunded future benefits keeping the government unions happy and satisfying contemporary taxpayers.  But our children are going to have to face some ugly music.  It is financial child abuse. 

As my current job is covered by one of these pensions, I am at risk.  This will be a massive bailout or a massive cut to benefits.  Either one is painfu as is the situation with AF.  I am watching with interest how this goes at AF.  At what point do we recognize reality as AF did.  Then what do you do with that reality?  We need to do away with defined benefit plans, they are way too subject to abuse.

Will government pensions be next to go bust?
Generous benefits and faltering investments have depleted government funds.

http://www.startribune.com/politics/state/92374769.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUac8HEaDiaMDCinchO7DU

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
But let me tell Thee that now, today, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing.
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Jakozak

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #39 on: April 29, 2010, 08:35:15 AM »
Just a few days ago I got the latest LCMS "Benefits Bulletin."  There is a statement to the effect that, as required by law, the synod is reporting that the Worker Benefits Plan is not subject to reporting or compliance with various US securities laws and codes.   Nobody ever explained the exact nature of these plans to me, but I am under the impression that LCMS pastors are not covered by health "insurance" but by a health "plan."  The same goes for disability and retirement.  I am not really sure of the rammifications of this.   Anyone?

Rev. Jack Kozak/Akron, Ohio

Dan Fienen

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #40 on: April 29, 2010, 09:46:48 AM »
I did some looking on line.  The primary web address for the Concordia Plans is www.concordiaplans.org . Apparently the retirement is a defined benefit plan that did take a hit during the recession.  One response to that hit was to increase employer contribution rates 1% at the beginning of 2010.  http://www.concordiaplans.org/graphics/assets/documents/PRESletter.pdf .  According to materials posted on the site, the plan seems to be adequately funded.

Quote
Delivering on Our Promises (Employer Bulletin Fall 2009)
We understand that times of uncertainty cause concern. And, we know that both the current and future benefits provided are important to LCMS employers, church workers, and retirees.

That’s why we are dedicated to doing what it takes to deliver on promises made.

You can find solace in the fact that your retirement funds, as well as other benefits, are managed with a disciplined approach. Concordia Plan Services staff does not work alone; we partner with top investment managers and business consultants. Their professional guidance—along with that of our experienced board members, prudent policies, and commitment to our fiduciary responsibilities—help to ensure we make the appropriate decisions when required.

During difficult economic times, difficult decisions need to be made. The very difficult decision to raise contribution rates for the Concordia Retirement Plan (CRP) is an example. Another example is the fact that current CRP beneficiaries will not be receiving benefit increases in 2010. These decisions were not made because the Plan is in any current danger of being unable to meet its obligations; instead, they represent prudent measures taken to secure long-term funding stability.

We will continue to share periodic updates about the CRP with you throughout the year.


Concordia Retirement Plan Update (Employer Bulletin Fall 2009)
Concordia Plan Services, like you, is very concerned about the care for church workers both in their active ministries and when they retire. Our goal is to provide peace of mind that allows the worker to focus on the ministry.

Our collective peace of mind was challenged this past year as economic events caused a downfall in public and private assets worldwide. The Concordia Retirement Plan was not immune; our assets in 2008 through March 2009 declined about 30%.

Although this was a big jolt, it’s important to keep perspective. The CRP was in a strong position heading into the economic downturn. Over long periods of time CRP assets have exceeded the 8% expected actuarial return, primarily due to our long-term investing philosophy. We know we must accept a certain level of investment risk and related volatility to achieve progressive returns.

As confirmation, the CRP assets have responded positively in market gains the past few months. That encouraging news will be supplemented by the 1% increase in the CRP contribution rate effective January 1, 2010, as announced this past July. The increase will strengthen the long-term funding status of the CRP while it continues to recover.

Market cycles present an opportunity to evaluate our strategic thinking around contributions, benefits, and risk. Rest assured that our Board of Trustees, investment managers, consultants, leadership team, and staff continually assess these key components of our Plans and will work diligently to make appropriate, measured responses that place the Plans in the best position to deliver on the promises made to members.

One prinary difficulty of, it seems, of many pension funds, AF's included I guess (I'm no expert) is underfunding it to begin with - not putting enough in each year to adequately provide for evetual pay out.  It is not obvious that this has happened with the Concordia Retirement Plan.  There was not increase in benefit for 2010, but that is better than a reduction.

More questions could be addressed directly to the plan office is St. Louis.  (They are a large occupant of the Internationsal Center in Kirkwood.)

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Dadoo

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #41 on: May 05, 2010, 07:01:12 AM »
For all you legal junkies: a copy of the suit may be found here: http://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B4XQ1WVXxqllZmYyNzJhMDEtNjMyMi00OTdmLWIwMTctNjBmMGZmNWI1NjU5&hl=en

The ELCA is prominently featured on page 46ff. According to the lawyers, Augsburg is ELC's "alter ego."  Interesting reading.
Peter Kruse

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Bergs

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #42 on: May 20, 2010, 10:57:39 AM »
There is another Minneapolis pension problem that just got resolved in Minnesota courts.  I do not know how if will affect the Augsburg-Fortress.  This is another sad story since it involves a much beloved group, our first responders.  If you follow the story, their pension trustees made some very speculative investments which failed.  So then they came to taxpayers with their tale of woe and request for financial assistance.  They tried to get the MN legislature to give assistance.  Given the sacrifice these people made for our safety, it is tough to turn backs on them but financial markets and investment decisions have consequences. 

http://www.startribune.com/local/94216954.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU

There are perils for all of us in our retirements, including the impending devaluation of Social Security payments. 

Grace & Peace,
Brian J. Bergs
a Minneapolis taxpayer
But let me tell Thee that now, today, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing.
The Grand Inquisitor

Evangel

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #43 on: July 29, 2010, 10:41:03 AM »
Mark Schimmel, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church, LCMC
Priddy, TX
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ACXXIII, "Your majesty will graciously take into account the fact that, in these last times of which the Scriptures prophesy, the world is growing worse and men are becoming weaker and more infirm."

SmithL

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #44 on: July 29, 2010, 03:38:07 PM »
How safe are ELCA pensions?