I write this note of thankfulness and celebration to mark the day when the very first Converge pension check was deposited in our bank account—February 2, 2017. I am 71, my wife is 69 and this check will come, Lord willing, as long as one of us is alive. I made note of it in my journal with a huge sense of thankfulness to Bethel University and Bethlehem Baptist Church.
In 1974 I was 28 years old and took my first real job teaching Biblical Studies at Bethel College. For the six years that I taught there, the school paid into a pension account. In 1980 I was called to pastor Bethlehem Baptist Church in downtown Minneapolis. Those six years of accumulated funds at Bethel were rolled into the BGC pension fund, and then for 33 years Bethlehem contributed to the Converge fund for us. What a huge kindness from the Lord and from the church that they would care for us in this way.
I encourage every church to make such provisions for their pastors. I don’t believe in “retirement,” as conceived in popular culture. It’s not a biblical reality. The point of a “pension” is not to fund a season of leisure between vocation and death. (In fact, I still work full time for Desiring God.) The point is to support God’s servant when earning powers may be diminished but untold possibilities of ministry remain. The aim is not to fund a decade of sloth but to create freedom for service according to one’s strength.
Our experience in these recent years of transition is that the staff of the Converge plan have been remarkably accessible and helpful. Things could not have gone more smoothly from our standpoint. Now our prayers are that we would be good stewards of these years, and these funds for the glory of Christ, and that rest of God’s shepherds would be cared for as generously as we are.
I began pastoral ministry in 1966 following graduation from Bethel Seminary. At that time, the Retirement Fund was just beginning to be promoted among the churches. It was met with opposition from the older and smaller churches. One of the leaders of the church I served suggested that I should establish a life insurance policy that would provide me with the security I needed. The problem with that was that young pastors like myself did not have an income sufficient to do that. The church I served did not adopt the innovation of retirement benefits for their pastor.
In 1969, my wife and I were appointed as church planters to serve in Argentina under the BGC Board of World Missions. Included in our financial package was an investment in the Retirement Fund. For the next nine years, funds were deposited in our account. When we resigned in 1978, the deposits ended but the account was available for future ministries to make contributions. We have been blessed to serve congregations that welcomed the opportunity to do that. First Baptist Church in Newcastle, Wyoming, Bethel Baptist Church in Mankato, Minnesota and First Baptist Church in Idaho Springs, Colorado faithfully added funds to our account.
In 2006, we retired from full-time ministry. For most of the years of our ministry, we lived in parsonages or housing owned by World Missions. We needed to purchase living quarters for ourselves without having equity to even make a down payment. One telephone call to the Retirement Fund office provided the solution. We were able to receive a lump sum sufficient to make a down payment. Beyond that, the Fund deposits money to our bank account to cover our monthly payment and utilities. We now enjoy a modest home with the security of knowing that our payment is covered with funds that are exempt from income taxes.
We are blessed and we are grateful to the wise planning and investment strategies of the Funds management team that allows us to live free of anxiety about housing as we age. It also allows us to serve as part-time staff at Galilee Baptist Church here in Loveland, Colorado I would encourage churches that have not gotten on board with this benefit for their pastors to do so. I would also challenge young pastors to explore the Converge Retirement Fund and invite their church leaders to address the issue of retirement benefits.
Fifty years ago, Bob and I were in our 4th Converge pastorate. We had four school age daughters, two - three years from heading to college. Parsonages had been our homes for all our married life, and we had very little savings. Retirement seemed far-off. When we heard about the Converge Retirement Plan we realized it was something we should consider. We liked that it was a partnered ministry to Converge and with the support of our church, we joined the plan.
As we approached retirement, we realized more and more what a good decision that had been. Bob generously chose to take a lesser monthly income, so that I would continue to receive income in the event of his death. We moved to a condo, so we could spend summers at the lake in Upper Michigan, and enjoyed several trips to: Israel, Scandinavia, Great Britain and a few other countries. Retirement was truly enjoyable with time to spend with friends and our growing family. A dependable income was such a blessing.
Since Bob's death 4 years ago, I have continued living securely in the condo we had shared for over 20 years. At age 90, I must confess to welcoming the support of 2 daughters who live nearby. I am so thankful that the Lord has provided for my needs in so many ways – including through the Converge Retirement Plan
Converge has a retirement fund for pastors and other church staff which exceeds any other funds of which I know. Many of our churches examine our Conference's investments (including Cornerstone Fund) and remark "You can't do better than that." Their growth exceeds many other financial benchmarks. I urge every church to make sure their pastors and other qualified staff are protected in their retirement years.
I joined the Converge Retirement Plan many years ago. As a retired Conference President and pastor I am thankful for the monthly pension check that I get to enjoy throughout Retirement. During my time as President I had the opportunity to have an insider’s perspective of the Retirement Plan. The funds invested in Converge Retirement plan are managed by a group of professional, born again believers, who give their time on a regular basis to managing the funds. Further, they are careful with our overhead costs as the retirement program operates on one half of 1%. Additionally, the pastor may remain in the Plan in the event that they travel to another of our churches or like-minded ministries.
I have been a pastor with Converge (BGC) since 1979. I have served in 3 different Converge churches. Every one of these churches contributed to the retirement plan. I am most grateful for Berean, Mansfield, Ohio who has contributed 10% for almost 30 years. When I first joined it was by the church's encouragement. Retirement was the farthest thing from my mind as I was just starting. My wife Julie & I have four children, and there were many years when I was tempted to take the retirement money as salary. I am so glad I didn't. Several years ago when I started thinking about retirement, I started looking more closely at the Retirement Plan benefits. I knew I had a monthly benefit coming, but I had no idea about the supplemental fund. I was floored when I was told I had this amount in addition to my monthly amount. I can only thank God for His provision through my churches and the fine people who manage the Retirement Plan. I would encourage every young pastor to sign up and prepare for the future.
Forty years ago, fresh from Bethel Seminary, I accepted a call to my first pastorate. As a rookie pastor, faced with many unknowns, I often sought counsel from longer tenured pastors, including my Dad. He strongly urged me to enroll in the Retirement Plan. His advice grew from his own experience of facing a future with little more than Social Security income available for his retirement years. After 27 years serving Conference churches, (Olivet Baptist, Des Moines, IA and Ridgewood, Minnetonka, MN), I was invited to join the staff of a larger, non-Converge congregation. In this new setting there were two surprise blessings: 1) I was allowed to serve with my Conference Credentials, and 2) Converge allowed me to continue contributing to The Plan.
Early on in ministry, my wife and I decided that any raises I received would go into the Voluntary Contribution portion of The Plan. Knowing that the Conference Plan continued to perform well over the long haul, we considered these contributions to be our primary investment.
It was somewhat challenging to step aside from a lifetime of professional ministry, but the timing was right to let the next generation lead. Knowing that I would have adequate income and resources to draw upon made that decision so much easier. I am delighted with the freedom retirement affords, freedom to answer the call to serve voluntarily without needing a paycheck, and freedom to travel and visit with friends and family. We are ever grateful for the resources afforded by the managers of the Converge Retirement Plan.
In the late 1960’s, I heard about a man named Wyman Malmsten who was trying to develop a retirement plan for Baptist General Conference pastors. I was immediately interested as I had no retirement savings. When the plan became available, I presented it to my church, Salem Baptist in Colorado Springs, and they approved my enrollment. I was able to carry the plan with me to my next church, Trinity Baptist in Hickory Hills IL, and then to the Florida Baptist Conference. As a district executive minister, I strongly encouraged existing and new pastors to join the plan.
The plan has been especially meaningful to me since if anything happened to me, my wife would be fully covered through the joint and survivor option. I also appreciated the ability to put extra money into the plan as I got closer to retirement. I still have a copy of my BGC retirement plan dated Jan 1st 1968. It is a good reminder of an excellent plan for retirement, and I thank the Lord for the Converge Retirement Plan. I am grateful to have been receiving consistent benefits since 1993.
I am grateful my late husband; John Beyers was a member of the Converge Retirement Plan for 29 years. John and I had just started our new life together having been married only 11 months when the Lord called him home.
Life is full of twists and turns, and we are never guaranteed tomorrow. On a Monday evening, John and I visited with a couple he had married. John had helped to disciple Bob, who had terminal cancer. As we were preparing to leave, John stated, “It is appointed for man to die once, and it will never be too early or too late.” He went on to tell Bob, “You never know, the Lord may call me home before you.” Little did he know that on Wednesday evening, a short two days later, he would be called home after a fatal accident.
As John’s widow, I have been blessed to continue receiving the Joint and Survivor benefit. I miss my husband dearly and am grateful to be receiving the benefits that Converge Retirement Plan has afforded to me. After John’s passing, I received a call from Ed Shannon. Ed was so compassionate and helpful; he was always a source of support. The service I received from the retirement plan was tangible evidence of God’s grace displayed through his servant.
I would encourage future participants to consider your spouse when joining the Converge Retirement Plan. If anything happens to you, you want to make sure your family is financially secure. John left a legacy for me that will continue to make my future secure, and for that, I will always be grateful.
Without a doubt, one of the best financial decisions we ever made was to join the Converge Retirement Plan. In 1984, when we began serving the Lord as Converge church planters in small towns out West local mortgage interest rates were 14% leaving us without two spare nickels to rub together. In 1990, at age 43, my wife Linda convinced me that we needed to get started on our future financial planning. Those early contributions were small but steady.
Throughout the years, as our kids’ needs grew, and life’s responsibilities expanded, somehow Linda always helped us find a way to keep faith with the future. Today, praise the Lord, in retirement we now have the nickels we need.
The folks at Converge have always been wonderful to partners. Their knowledge and counsel combined with their sense of service to the Lord and his people remains quite remarkable, and deeply appreciated by all of us who benefit from their expertise every day.
If I were to offer advice to fellow pastors, I would encourage all pastors to join the plan. If you’re older, it’s better late than never. Younger pastors, you must be proactive. Get in while you can even if means a slight reduction of salary.
I joined the Converge Retirement Plan when I began serving as Senior Pastor of Immanuel Church in Gurnee, Illinois. Before then I had done nothing towards saving for my retirement. At that time it just seemed like the right thing to do, although retirement seemed then to be forever in the future. The past 25 years has gone quickly and the decision I made 25 years ago is now coming to fruition.
I am extremely grateful to have been participating in the program all these years. Knowing the funds were being well managed gave me peace of mind. It was that peace of mind and the decision I made years ago which have given me the capacity to retire. Immanuel Church was an advocate towards building into my future as they contributed to the plan. I also appreciated the ability to contribute to the Defined Contribution Plan; my own contributions were never a burden.
Looking back, joining the Converge Retirement Plan was one of the best financial decisions I’ve ever made.
I am thankful to God that it has been available.