Every generation stands upon the shoulders of those who have gone before, and every generation becomes the shoulders upon which others will stand.
In 1964, the Brethren in Christ launched the BIC Pension Fund to help provide for its church leaders’ retirement needs. Serving in locations around the world, these leaders’ ministries often came with great personal sacrifice, including inadequate compensation and minimal retirement planning. The BIC Pension Fund, while never providing fully for retirement, became a significant part of their financial planning. Initially, the fund paid $2 per month for every year of service. By 2000, the defined benefit had risen to $9 per month for every year of service.
Funded by congregational contributions for pastors and by BIC U.S. World Missions for missionaries, the BIC Pension Fund had, for many years, sufficient funds to honor its promises. However, during the last 12–15 years, the economic recession and declining rate of return on investments—combined with the increasing life expectancy of those enrolled in the plan—created an underfunding where the assets in the fund were not enough to honor the commitments made.
By 2009, the underfunding reached $5.9 million. However, through the sacrificial and generous giving from individuals, congregations, and regional conferences, along with reallocated funds from ministry operations dollars, we’ve been able to reduce the underfunding to an estimated $3.2 million (as of December 31, 2015).
And while we celebrate this reduction, we acknowledge that this has come at the cost of other ministry priorities. The dollars reallocated for the BIC Pension Fund were dollars that might otherwise have been used for advancing the Church’s mission through evangelism, church multiplication, global ministry, and missions.
In continuing our commitment to both honoring the church workers who have gone before us and reaching those who still do not know, love, and follow Jesus, we are launching a special ministry campaign called Honor the Past: Build the Future. This campaign seeks to address the BIC Pension Fund underfunding and raise funds for church multiplication efforts into the future.
Over a five-year period (2016–2021), the Honor the Past: Build the Future campaign seeks to raise a total of $5,000,000 in two successive goals:
Honor the Past: $3.2 Million
We are committed to caring for those who have gone before us, sacrificing much in the course of their faithful ministries. By raising $3.2 million for the BIC Pension Fund, we honor our commitment to the individuals who helped build the Church.
Build the Future: $1.8 Million
We desire to continue the work of reaching the unreached and making disciples. In our commitment to build the future, our second goal is to raise an additional $1.8 million for church multiplication efforts.
When donating, be sure to select "Honor the Past: Build the Future Campaign" in the dropdown menu. Donate Now »
A multi-year pledge is a great way to give toward this campaign. This campaign will last five years (2016–2021), encompassing six tax years. Pledges can be made by downloading, completing, and returning the campaign commitment card. Pledge Now »
Q. How many people participate in the BIC Pension Fund?
The BIC Pension Fund currently has 387 participants enrolled. They have served the church as missionaries, pastors, church planters, and other similar roles.
Q. How much is needed to fully fund the BIC Pension Fund?
The amount needed is an estimate based on the plan participants’ ages and life expectancy, along with the projected increase of invested assets. Based on actuarial calculations, as of December 31, 2015, it was estimated that the fund will disburse a total of $14.5 million to meet the obligations to plan participants. The value of the fund assets on December 31, 2015 was just over $6.3 million. Allowing for anticipated growth in the investments, the actuarial calculation is that an additional $3.2 million is needed in the fund in order to meet the total projected disbursements.
Q. Why is the BIC Pension Fund underfunded?
In the late 1990s, the BIC Pension Fund held sufficient funds to meet its promises to plan participants. In an effort to better serve its workers, the Church increased its promised monthly payments. However, the subsequent economic recession significantly devalued the fund’s investments, creating an underfunding.
Q. What is the current investment strategy for the assets in the fund?
Following the loss of funds due to the economic recession, the plan trustees moved the remaining assets into safer investments. These investments typically do not have the growth potential of riskier investments. Today, the funds are invested in a balanced asset allocation designed to match the BIC Pension Fund’s liability needs.
Q. How much money is needed to successfully meet the need?
By meeting our Honor the Past goal of $3.2 million, we will be able to address the BIC Pension Fund underfunding. By meeting our Build the Future goal of an additional $1.8 million (for a campaign total of $5 million), we can dedicate funds specifically for church multiplication efforts.
Q. How will donations be used?
All donations to the campaign will be placed in the Honor the Past: Build the Future fund and will be restricted to the campaign’s purposes as described in “The Goals.”
Q. Who is helping in this campaign?
Our goal is to achieve widespread participation across the Brethren in Christ U.S.
Q. Why should I donate to this campaign?
The Brethren in Christ U.S. is indebted to the sacrificial service and leadership of those who served the Church on both the home and global missions fields. Through their ministry, many people came to know, love, and follow Jesus. We are committed to honoring their sacrifice by supporting them in retirement and continuing their legacy through church multiplication.
Q. How are the Church’s current financial needs met?
In the same way congregations receive tithes and offerings, they are encouraged to give 10% undesignated for the ministries of the BIC U.S. Known as “Common Ministries,” (formerly Cooperative Ministries) this stream of giving funds our shared areas of ministry—such as world missions, church planting, and leadership development—and is the lifeblood of BIC U.S. ministry. Individuals are also encouraged to donate to Common Ministries. Donations made to the Honor the Past: Build the Future campaign are intended to be in addition to donations made to Common Ministries.
Q. Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes, to the full extent as allowed by law.
Q. What kinds of donations are acceptable?
You may donate online or by making a check payable to "Brethren in Christ U.S." at 431 Grantham Road, Mechanicsburg, Pa., 17055, with "Honor the Past: Build the Future" in the memo line. Appreciated securities may prove to have special tax advantages for some and are also acceptable.
Q. Is it helpful to include the Brethren in Christ U.S. in my will?
Yes, although it may not directly benefit this campaign, including the Brethren in Christ U.S. in your estate planning is a great way to support the Church’s mission and ministry into the future.
Contact Bridget Nace, executive assistant, at email@example.com or (717) 697-2634, ext. 5437, with any questions you might have.