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Annuity Board asks help finding retirees in need

DALLAS (BP)–The Annuity Board of the Southern Baptists Convention is asking laypersons, active pastors and association directors of missions to help locate retired ministers or their widows in financial need.
O. S. Hawkins, president of the Annuity Board, said the agency needs assistance because “these dear people often are reluctant to ask for help. We know there is suffering, and we are prepared to help, but someone who lives close to these people must help us locate them.
“What we need,” said Hawkins, “is for people in local churches to be sensitive to the living conditions of aged ministers or their widows, and call us or write us to give us names and addresses. We’ll provide applications for relief and guidance for completion of the forms.”
Anyone with knowledge of a possible eligible person should write Ileen Bray, manager of supplemental assistance, Annuity Board, SBC, P.O. Box 2190, Dallas, TX 75221; or call 1-800-262-0511. The e-mail address is [email protected].
Relief for ministers or their widows is one of three ministry assignments given the Annuity Board by the Southern Baptist Convention. Since 1918, the board has been the primary arm of financial relief for aged ministers or their widows.
The Southern Baptist Cooperative Program Allocation Budget provides just over $1 million each year to the Annuity Board, and the board distributes this money without administrative charge. In addition, the board, through its Retired Ministers’ Support Fund (RMSF), supplemented the Cooperative Program money with almost $600,000 last year. The RMSF receives direct gifts and bequests.
The average relief recipient is 78 years old, with total monthly income of $802 and monthly expenses of $980. Monthly supplemental assistance grants allowing recipient discretion on expenditures are up to $200 per month for single persons or $265 per month for couples. Expense relief grants may be paid toward specified expenses including utilities, telephone service, prescription drugs and medical bills, eyeglasses and dental expenses, hearing aids, medical or burial insurance, minor household or auto repairs and funeral expenses. Expense grants usually are paid directly to the provider, but may be paid as reimbursement to the recipient for approved expenditures.
Trustees of the Annuity Board establish relief guidelines, and they review applications three times each year. General guidelines include at least 10 years salaried ministry in SBC churches or mission work, maximum monthly income of $900 for singles and $1,200 for married couples. Total savings, securities or income-producing assets may not exceed $20,000. Excluded from asset calculation is a home or other non-income producing property as well as cash value life insurance. More than half the 700 people receiving supplemental assistance from the board receive no regular annuity benefit because their churches never enrolled them in the Church Annuity Plan. Others reached retirement age with small accumulations in their accounts because of small salaries, small contributions and short-term participation.
Another source of financial aid to retired preachers is the board’s Adopt An Annuitant program that will spend over $2 million this year in $75 per month additions to low benefits of nearly 3,000 retirees. The Adopt An Annuitant program is supported by direct gifts from concerned individuals and organizations.

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  • Thomas E. Miller Jr.