Clergy Benefits presentations begin September 3

August 27, 2013

Click here to listen to the conversation with Joni Mardesen about the Benefits presentations

By Lisa Bourne*

Some changes are coming to the retirement plans for clergy serving the United Methodist Church in Iowa, and the Human Resources office of the Iowa Annual Conference is going on the road to bring information to those affected by those changes.

Human Resources staff and representatives from both the General Board of Pensions and the Conference Board of Pensions are conducting a series of informational meetings in the Iowa Districts to present the changes and answer questions.

“The Benefit ‘roadshow’ coming up is designed to provide information to clergy members regarding the changes to the benefit programs that were approved through General Conference in 2012,” said Joni Mardesen, Director of Human Resources/Benefits Officer for the Iowa Annual Conference.

The schedule for the HR benefits presentations is:
Tuesday, September 3
Ames Collegiate UM Church – 9 a.m.
Mason City First UM Church – 2 p.m.

Wednesday, September 4
Waterloo First UM Church – 9:30 a.m.
Washington UM Church – 2:30 p.m.

Monday, September 16
Atlantic First UM Church – 9 a.m.
Storm Lake UM Church – 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 17
Indianola First UM – 9 a.m

The focus of the presentations is on the changes to plans provided through the General Board of Pension, specifically the retirement program CRSP (Clergy Retirement Security Program) and to the Life and Long Term Disability plan that is provided through the Comprehensive Protection Plan (CPP).

“We’ll be visiting about those things, allowing clergy to ask questions,” Joni Mardesen said. “And hopefully we’ll give them some new information.”

“The hope is as well to clarify some emerging questions about the changes.”

A preliminary presentation took place Thursday, August 22, in Charles City, and was well-attended. The retirement plan changes were discussed as were other HR topics.

“It was an opportunity to try out that presentation and provide some information to those folks,” she said.

The CRSP changes will impact benefits at the time of retirement, said Mardesen, and changes taking place January 1, 2014, will only affect the service years beginning in January 2014 and going forward.

“The changes to the way those benefits are calculated then at the time of retirement impact only those dollars during that time,” she said. 

“Any retirement, and/or any plans, any participation in CRSP prior to January first of 2014 will not be impacted by those changes…so benefits under CRSP prior to January of 2014 will be calculated as they are currently.”

The changes will not impact any pre-2014 retirement savings dollars, nor will they impact any of the benefits that are currently being received by retirees, she said.

This will mean for some retirees that they will be covered under multiple retirement plans.

There are retirees who have credit in the pre-1982 plan, said Mardesen. And from there anything between 1982 and 2006 was under the MPP plan, she said; with anything from 2007 through the end of this year under the CRSP plan.

“And then we have revised CRSP, which starts then January 2014,” Joni Mardesen said. “So yes, they could have money in all of those retirement plans.”

Retirees will see itemization for each respective plan on their benefit statement.

The first benefits presentations will be held on Tuesday, September 3 and Wednesday, September 4.

“We’re trying to make a loop around Iowa and hit about four places over the next two days.”

Subsequent presentations are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, September 16 and 17.

One of the upcoming presentations will be taped and made available later as a resource for those who are unable to attend any of the sessions in person.

“We will make it available in different ways.  We understand that people can’t travel all the time and that traveling across Iowa may not be an option if they can’t attend the roadshow in their region.”

The benefits presentations will last between two and two-and-one-half hours, Mardesen said.

Josie Martinez, representative from the General Board of Pension, as well as Rev. Dr. Beverlee Bell, the Chair of the Conference Board of Pensions, will be traveling with Joni Mardesen and Kris Wyatt to make the presentations. 

“She (Josie Martinez) will be presenting her materials through a PowerPoint presentation, and it should take probably an hour-and-a-half to run through that material…and that allows then another hour or so for some additional information to be shared with clergy, and allow for questions. We should be done in two-and-a-half-hours.”

Clergy members attending will be asked to pre-register with the Human Resources/Benefits office by contacting Joni Mardesen or Kris Wyatt, HR and Benefits Coordinator. This is so that participants at the presentation could have their service records run prior to the meeting.

“We’d like to provide that at the time that they attend.  It would be very helpful to know who’s coming so that we could do that beforehand.”

In addition to the benefits session that will be recorded in one of the Iowa districts, the General Board of Pension has provided to each Conference a CD that covered the changes to the programs that were approved by General Conference 2012.

“I also know that there are some fabulous resources available on the General Board of Pension website,” said Mardesen. “If a clergy member were to go out to the General Board’s website, ( they will see under the Resources tab several different topic areas.”

There clergy will find links to videos specific to the changes to the pension and the life and long-term disability plans. 

“Lots of different videos available out there…I would suggest that any of our clergy members check out their website, see what resources they might have available. They have some fantastic things.”

Links will also be available on the HR page of Iowa Annual Conference website as well.

“We’re just excited that we’re going to be able to get out and see people face to face, and allow for some open conversation, and allow for questions,” Joni Mardesen added.

She said that there have been so many changes that have been approved and taken place, that there may be some misunderstanding out there about what the changes really impact.  “We want to be sure then that we can clarify that for clergy so that they’re more at ease and that they understand that their needs are still being cared for.”

*Lisa Bourne is a member of the IAUMC Communications Ministry Team, serving as Communications Assistant