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Nazarene districts and churches in the United States gave almost $14 million to the P&B Fund in 2018—an increase of almost $100,000 from 2017, according to Don Walter, director of Pensions and Benefits USA. The information was part of his annual report to the Board of Pension’s and the USA National Board. “Your giving supported benefits to almost 17,000 active and retired ministers and other church employees,” Walter said. “In 2018, it allowed us to disperse more than $48 million to these servants through plans we administer.” Of this amount, almost $15 million was paid to more than 5,000 retired ministers and widowed spouses. Another $9.5 million was placed in the Basic Pension Trust.

This giving provided $1.8 million for deposits to the accounts of eligible ministers in the 403(b) Retirement Savings Plan through Fidelity Investments. That plan is a growing source of retirement income for ministers, allowing pastors, district superintendents and other church employees to invest for retirement with tax advantages. Overall contributions to the plan by employee salary reduction or employer salary additions reached $13 million.

P&B Fund giving also supported basic life insurance to nearly 8,000 active and retired ministers, and disability coverage to another 4,000. The cost for this was about $1 million. About 90 individuals or families were assisted with more than $120,000 in medical benevolence assistance.

One of the major challenges of the year came in response to concerns about security and technology. Fidelity Investments decided to stop receiving payments by paper check to Nazarene 403(b) accounts as of January 1, 2019. This required P&B to spend much of 2018 helping treasurers and administrators prepare for the transition to electronic funds transfer. “To date, more than 1,300 churches have begun using the system,” Walter said. “We are grateful for the churches’ cooperation and to members of our staff who have assisted in the process.”

Walter went on to say that U.S. tax law changes in 2018 affected ministers and churches. Among other things, the new legislation created a levy on church employees related to free parking.

Also, the legal challenge to the Minister’s Housing Allowance continues. In late October, the same group that has been challenging the Housing Allowance brought suit to force churches to file IRS Form 990. Such financial disclosure has not been required in the past because of concerns about separation of church and state.

“1919 to 2019 represents a century of service to Nazarene church employees and employers by the group now known as Pensions and Benefits USA,” Walter said. “Throughout these decades, this work has been empowered by the faithful giving of districts and churches with whom we join in an effort to make life better for Nazarene employees. We remain committed to partnering with them to do everything we can to benefit active and retired ministers, church-employed laypersons, spouses, and widows in the next century.“

A copy of the annual report video is available here.

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