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Retirement Benefits Extended to Lay Employees of Local Churches

Music directors, choir directors, organists, praise team leaders, and other musicians in some local United Methodist congregations may qualify for retirement benefits similar to those long enjoyed by United Methodist clergy.

The 2004 General Conference passed legislation that directs every local church pastor-parish (or staff-parish) relations committee to recommend to the church council a retirement benefit for lay employees in the form of an annual contribution equaling three percent of the lay employee's compensation. This includes not just musicians, but all lay employees of local churches and annual conferences who meet the following criteria:

  • They are at least 21 years old.
  • They have completed at least one year of permanent service.
  • They work at least 1,040 hours per year (20 hours per week).

The church council will act upon the recommendation of the staff-parish relations committee in determining the amount of the benefit and how and where the contribution will be made. The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits has had a United Methodist lay retirement plan for lay employees in the church for many years, but the benefit was generally not made available to lay employees by local churches. Church councils are to begin providing the benefit no later than January 1, 2006.

An article with information about this new benefit, called the Horizon 401(k) Plan, is available on the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits' website, http://www.gbophb.org/retirement/hrz.asp.

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