Paying Into Pensions: Why one pastor is grateful for his long-term investments

When Rev. Aaron Wheaton, retired Elder, began his ministry in 1974, retirement was far from his mind. But like most other clergy in The United Methodist Church, Aaron was required to participate in the United Methodist pension program. As he and his wife, Cynthia, welcomed and raised their two sons, Isaac and Andrew, increased expenses sometimes made it difficult to pay into their pension.

Aaron recalled, “Even when we were just starting out, we began to contribute to our part of the pension. It was very difficult at the time because funds were tight.”

“Since I was the one that paid the bills early on, saw the funds going out toward the pension, Cynthia added. “I was, unfortunately, very resentful toward that, not realizing the foresight that the denomination had.”

Now that they are retired, the Wheatons feel differently about the pension. Aaron explains, “We know of a lot of pastors who, when they retire, have nothing. We take for granted, almost, that there is money coming into our account each month. That’s not a worry in our lives now.”

Aaron is thankful for those years supporting the pension, and he has appreciated the guidance his pension has offered on investments over the years.

Wespath Benefits and Investments (formerly The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits), the INUMC pension plan administrator, directs participants in sustainable investing that is aligned with their values to produce positive social impact along with improved fund performance.

“When 2008 hit, the big crash occurred. We lost some money, but not like others who only invested in the stock market. Ours was well-balanced,” Aaron said

The Wheatons are also grateful to help missionaries through their participation in the pension program.
“We are able to support missionaries that are struggling and young couples that are at a level where we were when we came out of seminary.” Cynthia said.

The Wheaton’s son, Andrew, is currently serving as a missionary in Chile, South America, with his family.

“We look forward to traveling there to see them,” said Cynthia. “We do enjoy traveling, and we enjoy mission trips, so those are all part of our retirement. And because of our pension, we have the funds to do it.

If you are interested in learning more about Wespath’s sustainable investments and the services they provide, please visit

Wespath Benefits and Investments

Wespath has been serving The United Methodist Church for over 100 years. It is the largest reporting faith-based pension fund in the United States, serving more than 100,000 active and retired clergy and lay emplovees of the Church. As a sustainable investor, Wespath incorporates consideration of environmental, social and governance factors in their investment decision-making and aspires to make a positive impact on the environment and society.