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Study Shows Retirement Crisis for Pastors

According to an article in USA Today, many clergy members find themselves in financial trouble as they approach retirement. Rev. Dr. Bert White, a retired Methodist clergyman and lecturer at Boston University, says “clergy tend to be focused on the hereafter, but we should know more about planning for life after work.” Retiring pastors who were depending on stock investments for income find themselves in dire straits after the 2000 and 2008 market meltdowns. According to a survey by the National Association of Church Business Administration, a senior minister at a small- to medium-sized church receives average pay of $70,300, and about 13% receive no retirement benefits at all. Most others receive very small contributions to their retirement plans from the churches they serve. In New England, where the population is older and most churches are small, many churches can no longer fund the pastors’ pensions. The article cited “a pervasive attitude” among retiring church leaders that “God will take care of it,” but this unpreparedness has a ripple effect on those they counsel. White plans to emphasize in an upcoming financial literacy and retirement planning seminar at Boston University that clergy “must have their earthly affairs in order.”

USA Today 6/5/10