“PENSIONITIS”? An Unfair Accusation

Some months ago my editorial on “Desideratum A United Reformed Church” called forth a measure of response including a misunderstanding which, in fairness to honestly disturbed ministers in the CRC, should be set straight.

Writing about disturbing developments in the CRC, one correspondent states: “There are still a goodly number of pastors who arc very unhappy with this trend. Their answer is, ‘What can be done about it?’ Leaving the CRC for them would he a serious matter also in regard to their pension that would be cut off if they left the CRC—right?”

Another writes: “All the ministers over forty will never pull out, you know the reason why?” I assume that this correspondent also refers to the danger of losing one’s ministerial pension upon withdrawing from the CRC an affliction that has come to be known as “pensionitis.” In other words, money talks, and that is supposed to be the reason why the older CRC ministers will not leave the denomination no matter how bad the situation may become.

Now, what are the facts?

Briefly, no minister’s pension is in jeopardy regardless of whether he remains in the CRC or not.

To confirm my own recollection of this being the ruling and in an effort to once more get rid of this false accusation of “pensionitis” I inquired of a member of the denominational Pension Committee and received the following reply:

I am writing in response to your letter of December 20, 1977. You are correct in your understanding regarding the pension benefits paid to the men who have served in the Christian Reformed Church. A retired minister who leaves the denomination would still receive his pension benefit and a minister who leaves the denomination before retirement, would, upon reaching retirement age, receive pension payments according to the number of years of his service in the CRC.

“These provisions were incorporated into the plan several years ago when the entire pension plan for Christian Reformed ministers was revised. Whereas there may be some people in the denomination who would feel that is inappropriate, the arrangement is linked with the vesting schedule of the plan. Under the new plan the man‘s retirement benefit is linked to his years of service rather than to his doctrinal standing or conduct of life at the time the retirement benefit is received. Legal requirements are such that such benefits must be given and cannot be linked to a person‘s being in good graces with the denomination.”

So, whatever reasons an older minister may have for not leaving the denomination, “pensionitis” is not it.