Board of Pensions Report at AC2023

Board of Pensions Report at AC2023

June 14, 2023

The Board of Pensions chair, Dave Peterson, shared an overview of the 2022 board’s decisions around the continued health, wellness, and retirement benefits for clergy and Conference staff at the June 2023 Iowa Annual Conference Session.

It includes a report for the pension and retirement plans based on the most recent actuarial valuation, a look back at the 2022 calendar year and what we can reasonably expect related to our health premiums in 2024, a Wellness Report highlighting the 2022 Wondr Health Program, and a reminder of the Iowa Conference Employee Assistance Program and how it can benefit clergy and Conference staff and immediate family members.

In September of 2022, the Iowa Board of Pensions received their actuarial valuation report from Wespath for all plans, including Pre-82, the Ministerial Pension Plan (MPP), and the Clergy Retirement Security Program (CRSP). Each year, the Directors of the Board of Pensions review plan valuation, investment performance, and economic outlook while balancing their financial responsibility when determining the Pre-82 past service rate and the required local church contribution to adequately fund the clergy retirement plans. While investment performance has improved slightly, and the economic outlook is not yet clear, the preliminary valuations report long-term funding rates in 2024 to be 121% for the Pre-82 plan and 127% for the Corridor Funding Plan, which includes MPP and CRSP plans. The market funding, or point-in-time funding, as of January 1, 2022, reported the plans’ assets to be at 86% of the calculated liabilities. 

Looking at all factors, the Directors have approved a past service rate of $755 for the Pre-82 plan in 2024, an increase of 2.7% over the 2023 rate of $735. In addition, the Directors have approved a church pension share rate in 2024 equal to 12% of a clergy person’s total compensation for all clergy eligible and participating in the denominational plans administered by Wespath.

The Board of Pension has offered health care coverage under the Wellmark Blues Choice plan for the past several years and is committed to choosing a plan that provides the ‘most good for the most people at the lowest cost.’ The Health Insurance/Wellness Committee received the 2024 renewal rates from Wellmark in May of this year. With a modest increase in claims paid out during the current year, Wellmark returned with a 2.13% increase to the overall premium.  

It is important to note that Wellmark is providing our renewal rates very early in a plan year and, by doing so, reserves the right to revisit the renewal rates if the number of our policyholders would decrease by 10% or more.

By recommendation of the Health Insurance/Wellness Committee of the Board of Pensions, the Directors have approved continuing the current health plan with no change to the monthly church health share rate or the monthly portion of the family premium. Health plan participants will also continue to receive a monthly contribution of $125/month to a participant’s health savings account or health reimbursement account - $1500 annually – to assist our participants in meeting the high deductible required under the plan. 

As a reminder, the local church health share is a commitment to our United Methodist connection and includes the following expenses:

  • The blended insurance premium, which averages the cost of all single and family plans
  • The Conference or employer HSA or HRA contributions for participants
  • Health insurance and all related costs for our eligible clergy receiving CPP disability benefits or surviving spouses and families of clergy who have passed away while actively serving
  • Monies to fund the Board of Pension Medical Assistance program
  • Plan administration and consulting fees

In September 2022 and February 2023, the Board of Pensions sponsored additional cohorts of clergy, spouses, and Conference staff in the Wondr Health program. Wonder Health is a behavior-based, 10-week plan that teaches participants simple skills to help them lose weight, improve their health and boost their overall quality of life. The program’s ultimate goal is to reduce the prevalence of obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. Our two most recent cohorts resulted in a total weight loss of 210 lbs for the entire group. Congratulations to those participants who have made their health and well-being a priority!

The Wondr program continues for a full year, focusing on maintenance skills and behaviors through WondrUp, and long-term skills are reinforced during the remaining six months with WondrLast. Our Conference Wellness Coordinator, Kae Tritle, will work closely with the Health Insurance/Well-Being Committee of the Board of Pension in 2023 to plan for the continued care of clergy, staff, and their families, through programs promoting healthy habits and behaviors. 

As the Board of Pensions works to support the well-being of the clergy, staff, and their families, the Board has continued its partnership with Employee & Family Resources to provide an employee assistance program that includes a 24/7/365 call center, in-person assessments by licensed counselors, short-term counseling and referrals, life coaching, financial consultation, and many online resources for information and education. 

Members of a clergy or staff person’s immediate household are also eligible for services, and the core services I’ve just mentioned are available at no cost. To learn more about this well-being benefit, please see the Employee Assistance Program page on the Conference website, or visit To contact a counselor via phone, call 800-327-4692. 

As Employee and Family Resources continue adding services and resources for individuals and families, EFR recently announced its partnership with TogetherAll. TogetherAll provide an anonymous, online community available 24/7 and monitored by mental health professionals allowing you to connect and support others with similar experiences. To learn more about the service, visit the EFR website.

The Board on Pensions interim Directors slate was approved and officers were elected.