Health insurance

We have written our first check for our new health insurance program, four times larger than the current amount. The new plan excludes vision and dental coverage.

I came to Northwest Indiana from seminary in Boston in 1949, to be ordained by Bishop Raines in his first class, and was privileged to be close to him for the next 20 years until his retirement. He and Mrs. Raines were opposed to pastors’ wives working, and like most Indiana Methodist clergy, we adhered to their strong feelings. Our first parsonage had no window coverings, so we bought draperies and curtains. There was no refrigerator, so we bought one. The only item provided was the kitchen range. My salary was $2,400 with no expenses. Salary increases were very modest during those years. I grew to love my Bishop, my Conference, and my colleagues. I served on several boards and was twice a District Superintendent.

I remember serving during tense times: The Reader’s Digest article, “Methodism’s Pink Fringe,” the John Birch Society with its divisiveness, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. I have enjoyed coming to know the wonderful clergy and laity of the former North Conference and those from the EUB-Methodist merger. I have been very proud to be a part of Indiana Methodism. It has been a privilege to be a minister of Jesus Christ here.

I have read carefully all of the materials sent to me and have attended meetings of explanation about the proposed new changes in Indiana. Now I find myself being required to pay more for less coverage for our health insurance, and I don’t like my new feelings toward my Conference that all of this has generated. I and my colleagues have been badly treated after serving faithfully and depending on our Conference for better care. It is a jolt not to be able to depend on our Conference as we have in the past. My story is not unique, and I know I speak for many deeply troubled and faithful Indiana clergy. It is sad that a faith-based organization has not been more charitable toward its retired servants.

Ralph Steele
Valparaiso, Ind.

Gone too far

Your editorial in the October issue struck a chord with me. Aside from the subject of separation of church and state, I, too, feel that the UMC has gone too far. One of our missions as Christians is to care for one another, physically and spiritually. This is difficult if the state dictates the procedure and injects itself into something that should be more focused on the individual. As we become a more transient population the church congregation takes on the role of family; and, I might add, abounds to the nourishment of both.

I was also touched by Pastor Morin’s letter. The concerns related in his letter might be more easily addressed with a greater input by those affected and on an individual case by local congregations.

Thank you for your attention.

Claire Sudbrack Brigham
First UMC
West Lafayette, Ind.

Single payer

I read your editorial stressing you think our General Conference went too far regarding the single payer option by the federal government. I have mixed reactions. I would personally prefer a non profit cooperative like in agriculture or electricity rather than a government run plan.

Private insurance has no incentive to lower costs. But this is not a knee jerk reaction. I’m looking at a 2000 Book of Resolutions which says on page 262 that our denomination called for a nonprofit health care insurance system as a single payer system administered by the federal government. This was originally adopted in 1992 (shades of the Clinton attempt?) and reaffirmed in 2000 as well as by the most recent General Conference.

I agree theologically with the gist of your comments. Christian faith can give us the goals but not necessarily the strategy other than our Wesleyan command to do good and do no harm in doing so.

Dr. Joe Smith
Dunlap UMC
Elkhart, Ind.