The undersigned clergy are responding with concern about the proposal to be presented at the Indiana Annual Conference session this June eliminating the health insurance benefit for clergy retiring after July l, 2013, and their spouses.

We believe it will injure the spiritual and emotional health of the annual conference by breaking our covenant of ministry and failing to honor the faithful service of retired pastors and spouses. It will adversely affect the recruitment of future clergy, especially second career clergy and seriously handicap financially those who have planned for retirement in the next few years.

We are concerned with inconsistencies in both the process and intended action so near the Annual Conference session:

It surrenders to a secular model of reducing retired workers’ benefits while preserving health benefits for retired executives. For example, retire United Methodist bishops and retired denominational executives receive support for health insurance coverage from our apportionments.

It comes at a time when we are attempting to raise funds to reduce clergy debt and to promote local church stewardship.

It is contrary to merger recommendations which stated, “A continuation of clergy and staff benefits based on fairness and equality of eligibility with current levels of benefits serving as the base line” and “The Indiana Conference will provide a health insurance program for its eligible retirees.”

We encourage local church leaders, lay members and clergy to prayerfully consider if this proposal to eliminate health insurance benefits for retired clergy is consistent with our clergy covenant and with the stated goal of providing health insurance for our retirees when we created a new United Methodist conference in Indiana in 2007.

G. Edward Alley, James E. Gentry,
Donald Griffith, Charles Johnson,
Kent Millard , D. Allen Rumble
and Dennis Shock