The Regional Conference Retirement Plan
Those who are aware of our brief history know that its existence is an act of God. Humans cannot know the times and the seasons and could not have orchestrated the circumstances that led to its creation. It had to be the Lord. Our simple mission is to provide a reasonable retirement for those workers who have made Herculean sacrifices over their life times “for the good of the work.” The funds are provided from the bounty that the people of God have faithfully placed into the storehouse. Happily and thankfully these workers are also part and parcel of the faithful who have given their lives in time and talent.
Working for the Church requires faithfulness, diligence and the expectation of modest pay. Clearly those who labor in its vineyard are not in it for the “loaves and fishes.” This does not mean that they labor without joy and a unique sense of fulfillment. Their happiness cannot be measured in dollars. Therefore when it is time for them to lay down their burdens after a life of sacrifice and joy, normal living should not be a strain. We are dedicated to and determined that this worthy objective shall not perish from our thoughts our prayers or our actions.
Our Board of Trustees is composed of the 27 officers of the nine sponsoring conferences and the Plan’s Executive Director. They are committed to maintaining the highest standards expected for retirement plans. The dedicated staff is located in our offices on the beautiful campus of historic Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. Together we live to serve the Lord and the more than 1700 persons that are active employees, terminated vested employees, current retirees and beneficiaries who have come and are coming to the end of active years of employment with the Church. In tandem with the North American Division ((NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church, we also operate a Medicare Supplemental Health Care Assistance Plan for our retirees.
These are challenging times for retirement plans. Ours was born at a time of financial uncertainty and transition for pension plans in the United States. When other organizations were changing and moving away from retirement systems that held employers responsible for the financial viability of the pension funds for their employees, we moved successfully toward creating and now maintain a retirement plan that continues in the honorable tradition of holding the employer responsible.
Our roots are found in the memberships of the nine predominately Black Conferences in the (NAD) of the SDA Church. There are 49 other “state” conferences in the NAD. At the beginning of operations for Regional Conferences in the 1940’s, there were only approximately 17,000 Black members in the Adventist Church in the United States. Membership in Regional Conferences now approaches 300,000. These Conferences have always been and continue to be an integral part of the organizational structure of the SDA Church. Always extending an open hand of fellowship to any person or group that would join them, these Conferences now hold in their membership congregations, persons and institutions that represent the broad spectrum of racial groups that populate our country.
Over the years, numerical and financial growth in these conferences, in addition to supporting the World Mission of the SDA Church and its institutions, now finds them giving major financial support to the denomination’s prominent Historically Black American University (Oakwood), its National Television Ministry (Breath of Life) beamed to the Black population in the United States and a National Religious publication (Message Magazine), now more than 100 years old. That continuing growth and assumption of larger duties is evidenced by those conferences holding alone the reins of responsibility for the financial viability of this retirement plan, now in its eleventh year of successful operation.
Finally, our unique and brief history with this Plan declares clearly and unequivocally that it’s creation and our existence as a viable Defined Benefits Retirement Plan was and is an act of God. We have seen His handiwork and are confident that we are walking in His favor.
- Opened for Business: January 1, 2000
- Defined Benefits Plan
- Sponsors: The Nine Regional Conferences of the North American Division
- Current number of covered lives: 1700
- Retirees as of November 2011: 342
- Funding Source: 10.25% of Tithes from the Sponsoring Regional Conferences
- Number of Years for Vesting – 5
- Number of Years of Service Credit for full benefits – 30
- Percentage of Salary Calculated for Benefits: – 67.5% of the average of the highest 3 years in a career.