Author Topic: Perils of Church-Related Pensions  (Read 10246 times)

George Erdner

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #75 on: November 01, 2010, 12:42:08 PM »
Personally, I do not know enough about the situation to declare it "unjust." That requires some assumptions about what is going on that I am not qualified to make. And, as noted above, I don't think you know enough about the situation either.

Now, if your view of justice is that all retirees or all people should somehow receive a certain level of support at a certain time in their lives, you will want to expand the work of the LC-MS offices of governmental affairs.

Is it unjust that none of the places where my wife has worked has given her pension?

If she knew when she was deciding to accept a job or not that there would be no pension, then it is not unfair. On the other hand, if she was promised a pension and then the employer reneged on the deal, then that is unfair. There's no obligation for a company to provide a pension, but there is an obligation for a company to honor its promises. Even if the company didn't have to make the promise, if it makes the promise, then it is bound to it.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #76 on: November 01, 2010, 12:50:00 PM »
And I suspect the issue of justice in this matter will be sorted out by the courts; and I would expect that if it is found that the ELCA has obligations, the ELCA will satisfy those obligations. Until then, we are either rushing to judgment or being irresponsibly defensive.

G.Edward

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #77 on: November 01, 2010, 01:08:03 PM »
Scott writes:
But in any case, the ELCA should not perpetrate injustice.  Proclaiming against the injustice of another while actually perpetrating it by being a party to it elsewhere has a quite simple name -- hypocrisy.

I comment:
Personally, I do not know enough about the situation to declare it "unjust." That requires some assumptions about what is going on that I am not qualified to make. And, as noted above, I don't think you know enough about the situation either.

Now, if your view of justice is that all retirees or all people should somehow receive a certain level of support at a certain time in their lives, you will want to expand the work of the LC-MS offices of governmental affairs.

Expanding bureaucracies only chews up more resources, leaving less for those in need.  Bigger human anything is - historically speaking - highly unlikely to improve anything.  Changed hearts of real people who then seek to keep promises to love and serve their neighbor is the finger of God.

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #78 on: November 01, 2010, 01:09:26 PM »
So...a promise is only binding unless a court declares it to be?  And I don't think there is excessive defensiveness nor rushes to judgment being made.  

Q: When is a promise not a promise?
A: When's its inconvenient.

Mike Bennett, you've done a very fine job explaining this.  (And I think you have a point about your state government too.  I'm sorry for that.  That's not fair.  And tomorrow is an opportunity to 'fix' things.  I'm voting for everyone that is not an incumbent tomorrow, except for the Caecil County Sherriff.  Even my bum is a bum.)

Jeremy  
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Mike Bennett

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #79 on: November 01, 2010, 01:21:33 PM »
And I suspect the issue of justice in this matter will be sorted out by the courts; and I would expect that if it is found that the ELCA has obligations, the ELCA will satisfy those obligations. Until then, we are either rushing to judgment or being irresponsibly defensive.

And in the meantime AF retirees will eat catfood.  But we wouldn't want to rush to judgment or use the PB's bully pulpit for a special appeal to replenish the pension fund so AF's promises can be kept.  The whole thing is just an excuse for ELCA's enemies to take pot shots.  (Including the enemies within, who would love to see a fund appeal against which they can write a check!)  

Wow.  Just wow.

Mike Bennett

And please don't say something stupid, such as I can write a check any time I please, without a fund appeal.  I'll point out in advance that there really isn't a way for an ELCA pew sitter to write a check that goes straight into AF's DB pension plan
“What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?”  2 Kings 9:22

Richard Johnson

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #80 on: November 01, 2010, 01:30:14 PM »

If I were to take up the banner of "justice" on any ecclesial economic matter, it would be in a battle to see that pastors are properly compensated and that our pension plan is fully funded, rather than being crippled by the unfunded liabilites we stupidly accepted at the time of the merger.


If I only put my resources towards alleged injustices that affect me and my family, I will be ignoring my responsibility to be concerned about the sufferings of others.


OK then .  . .
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #81 on: November 01, 2010, 01:33:37 PM »
Mike Bennett seems to have some special knowledge that can be useful in the discussion. Good. Our knowledge is still incomplete regarding this "church plan" exemption, and - as noted above - I don't believe any opinion begins to hold water until we have seen the exact documents and legal standing of this particular case.


It didn't seem to help much when Scott quoted the exact legal document that is supposed to govern our life together in the ELCA (its Constitution).
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #82 on: November 01, 2010, 01:39:37 PM »
Mike Bennett seems to have some special knowledge that can be useful in the discussion. Good. Our knowledge is still incomplete regarding this "church plan" exemption, and - as noted above - I don't believe any opinion begins to hold water until we have seen the exact documents and legal standing of this particular case.


It didn't seem to help much when Scott quoted the exact legal document that is supposed to govern our life together in the ELCA (its Constitution).

Well, we have Jesus' words in Matthew 6

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

and,


25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


I've heard arguments that these text speak against having pension plans or life insurance. Seeking to store up treasures for the future is showing a lack of trust in God.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Richard Johnson

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #83 on: November 01, 2010, 01:42:55 PM »
Non sequitur of the day award. No financial remuneration involved.
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Charles_Austin

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #84 on: November 01, 2010, 01:48:00 PM »
The legal document that is the ELCA constitution may not be the operative document in the Augsburg-Fortress Pension matter.
But nice try.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #85 on: November 01, 2010, 01:48:11 PM »
Non sequitur of the day award. No financial remuneration involved.

I figured if the Constitution/Bylaws are quoted as authorities, why not scriptures. Why shouldn't we wonder if pension plans, life insurance, or even social security, indicate a lack of trust that God will provide what we need in the future?

Remember that during a very conservative time in my Christian life, I associated with people who said that buying life insurance indicated a lack of faith in God.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

James_Gale

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #86 on: November 01, 2010, 01:49:42 PM »
And I suspect the issue of justice in this matter will be sorted out by the courts; and I would expect that if it is found that the ELCA has obligations, the ELCA will satisfy those obligations. Until then, we are either rushing to judgment or being irresponsibly defensive.

Is your position that US law determines what is, and what is not, "justice"?  Are you claiming the ELCA's moral obligations extend no further than its legal obligations?

John Theiss

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #87 on: November 01, 2010, 01:54:08 PM »
Charles, if none of the posters here can be sure that we have "all the information" about the AF situation and therefore are not qualified to speak to the issue of pensions, how does the ELCA office of public policy (by whatever name) insure that it has "all the information" on every issue to which it speaks?  I noticed that such an office must continue to be funded in a previous post you made, as to not do so would somehow mean the ELCA was failing to address injustice in our world. 

RevDavid

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #88 on: November 01, 2010, 01:59:08 PM »
I think, from everything that I have seen, that the ELCA does not have a legal obligation to help out the AF pension fund (but I'm no lawyer).  However, that is not the issue for me.  

It is not a question for me of "what must we do" but rather "what can we do."  We in the ELCA love our brothers and sisters who are in the AF pension plan, with whom we have a long and mutually beneficial relationship; What can we do to help them?  Not because we must, or because some court twisted our arm, or to answer outside criticism, but because it is the right thing to do.

Would it be easy for us to respond?  Probably not.  Not when we are cutting our own budgets (denominationally, synodically, and congregationally), not when the economy is in the state that it is in, not when our own house is as divided as it is.  But doing the right, best thing is often difficult.

And yes, this issue is being used by those who are critical of the ELCA.  Used by people who are searching not for what is best in the ELCA, but who are always looking for the worst (not necessarily speaking of anyone here).  So what?  The fact that this issue is being used for the purposes of others ought not keep us from doing the right thing - because the fact is they are right.  We should do something.

~ David

G.Edward

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #89 on: November 01, 2010, 01:59:39 PM »
The legal document that is the ELCA constitution may not be the operative document in the Augsburg-Fortress Pension matter.
But nice try.

No, but it is the purported operational document for those who make so much of "bearing each others' burdens'.  Is it as elastic in your view as the Scriptures?