Pension Fund of the Christian Church
Todd A. Adams, President
1099 North Meridian Street, Ste. 720
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Toll-Free: 866-495-7322

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Report to the 2019 General Assembly

On May 11, 1895, Brother A.M Atkinson, husband of Nancy E. Atkinson, a founding member of the Christian Women’s Board of Missions, received a telegram informing him of the passing of the beloved minister and former governor of Indiana, Rev. Ira J. Chase. Brother Chase left a nearly blind widow and four children with no means of support. “Brother Atkinson could not forget the need of this preacher’s family and set out immediately to raise a fund to provide the widow and family a home and a living.”[1] Enough money was raised to purchase a home in Wabash, Indiana, which Mrs. Chase graciously received, provided $1,000 was returned to the fund from the sale of the home upon her death.

Brother Atkinson called for a Conference on Ministerial Relief, which met on October 21, 1895 in advance of the General Missionary Convention. The purpose of this conference was to raise additional resources for the Chase Fund and formalize the process by which other widows and children would receive support. The outcome of this meeting was recommended changes to the By-Laws of General Christian Missionary Convention, creating the Board of Ministerial Relief and raising an offering which totaled $3,567.25.[2]

In 2020, the Board of Ministerial Relief will celebrate 125 years of working to provide resources “For the Support of Ministry.” From its humble beginnings with two offerings totaling $5,732.56, Pension Fund of the Christian Church, as the successor organization, has embodied our mission and carefully managed the resources of our pastors and lay employees and our legacy funds of Ministerial Relief and Assistance. At the close of 2017, the fund’s value was $3.25 billion[3].

In 2020, Pension Fund will celebrate the expansion of Ministerial Relief and Assistance. The program will have three core functions: Retiree Support, Active Clergy Programs, and Congregational Partnership Grants.

Retiree Support will continue for those who have no Pension, a Pension below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, Healthcare Assistance with Medicare Supplemental plans, and 13th check. Our expanded support for retirees includes adding a Geographic Pay Differential for Supplemental Pensions for persons who retired in a high-cost area. To qualify, a person must meet the current supplemental guidelines and have retired in an area where the cost of living exceeds Indianapolis as a base market. Those persons then qualify for an increase based on the difference but capped at 250% of the Federal Poverty level for a single person.

Active Clergy Programs: Ministerial Relief and Assistance expansion includes Financial Literacy Education (the permanent role of Excellence in Ministry), Career Counseling Grants for Pastors Transitioning to bi-vocational ministry, and a biennial Pastor’s Wellness Conference starting in the fall of 2020.

The career counseling grants are to combat the research which shows clergy who have a second source of income are most likely to serve in a high-crisis profession such as a funeral director or social worker. Continually dealing with crisis, leads to burnout. We want to help clergy work with a professional who can steer them toward a profession which compliments their ministry but also brings joy.

The biennial Pastor’s Wellness Conference will rotate themes of emotional, physical, and financial wellness. The heavily subsidized conference will see to bring together clergy serving various size congregations. The first keynote speaker is Dr. Matt Bloom, a researcher at the University of Notre Dame, who specializes in clergy wellness. More information will be available at Pension Fund’s booth in the exhibit hall. These are in addition to our historic clergy support programs for emergency aid and funeral assistance grants for clergy without pension plan death benefits.

We also desire to work in Partnership with Congregations. We will continue our historic programs, including Student Gift—expanded to include undergraduate internships and Global Mission Interns through Division of Overseas Ministries—and our Chaplaincy Dues program, which purchases pension credits for pastors called to active duty military service.

Our new Congregational Partnership programs include partnering with Week of Compassion to provide salary continuation grants to pastors if their home and/or the church is damaged during a natural disaster. We recognize if there is widespread damage in a community, offerings will decrease and the ability to pay the pastor will be threatened. If the pastor doesn’t have to worry about their basic necessities, they can better lead the recovery in their community. In 2017, MRA provided over $475,000 in salary continuation grants following natural disasters.

We are also responding to GA-1333 and adding salary continuation grants to support pastors at the birth or adoption of a child. The purpose of these programs is to extend the leave time previously granted for materinity and/or paternity leave and provide additional support for any extenuating circumstances related to the birth or health of the newborn. The program will be open for maternity and paternity leave grants, natural birth or adoption—including single parent adoption.

At Pension Fund, we understand our mission is standing For the Support of Ministry, ensuring that pastors and lay employees of Stone-Campbell related employers have a Strong … Smart … Secure retirement. In the coming biennium, we are prepared (as a willing and capable partner) to challenge our members and the church to journey The Road to Financial Wellness.

Our work on your behalf is guided by our:

Mission: For the Support of Ministry

Vision: Stone-Campbell pastors and lay employees will enjoy a Strong … Smart … Secure retirement.

Core Values: Integrity, Security and Compassion

Integrity: the quality of being honest, making membership-oriented decisions

Security: the state of stability, providing freedom from worry or fear

Compassion: the ability to help others in times of need or distress

Guiding Scripture: Matthew 25:20-21 “The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.”

Ends Statements:

In service to our members, Pension Fund will …

  • Partner with employers to offer financially secure retirement savings options and education for pastors and lay employees of the Stone-Campbell movement including financial support of surviving family members and provisions for those who become disabled;
  • Invest and prudently manage the resources of our members — maximizing returns, minimizing costs and assuming the burden of market risk;
  • Engage members with compassionate care and personalized attention;
  • Steward the assets and programs of Ministerial Relief and Assistance; and
  • Utilize current and compliant processes.

Contractual Programs for the United States and Puerto Rico:

As of September 30, 2018, our total assets under management were $3,270,106,921.  Of these $1,962,837,400 were Pension Plan; $280,532,877 were Tax-Deferred; $22,814,466 were IRA (combined) and $299,719,104 were Benefit Accumulation Accounts (BAA). Additionally, Pension Fund has a General Fund of $133,023,443. In 2018 our base rate for Tax Deferred was 3.5%, IRA products 3.5% and BAA 2.5%. In 2018, based on 2017 returns, Pension Fund awarded a Special Apportionment of 5.5% or $96 million and a Good Experience Credits of 10.5% (TDRA), 9% BAA, and 5.5% IRAs or $48 million.

Contractual Programs for Canada:

Pension Fund provides the Pension Plan for clergy and lay employees in Canada. Canada remains a separate corporation with a separate board consisting of two US based Pension Fund employees and two Canadian based board members who also participate in the programs. This structure allows us to comply with the laws and regulations of Revenue Canada.

Pension Fund provides access to membership in the Pension Plan by clergy and lay employees in the Stone-Campbell / Restoration Movement in Puerto Rico.


Pension Fund maintains a fully-invested policy with long-term asset allocation of 50% equities, 35% fixed income and 15% alternatives. We are honored to co-sponsor a General Assembly resolution, reaffirming our commitment to socially responsible investing. We partner with Glass-Lewis for proxy vote servicing and research. Glass-Lewis follows the guidance of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).

Ministerial Relief and Assistance:

In 2017 and 2018, Ministerial Relief and Assistance provided more than $3.6 million for the support of the ministry. Supplemental Gift Pensions are gift distributions to those retirees who have extremely low pensions. Relief Pensions are gift distributions to those who have no pension.

The 13th Check is a gift to all persons receiving a Ministerial Relief pension. The offering received at General Assembly, endowment income, and annual fund contributions provide resources that bless our members. Many recipients offer thanks for the church’s generosity, as the 13th Check provides resources for heating bills, medicine and other necessities that these saints would forgo without this support.

We provided over $450,000 in salary continuation grants in 2017 following Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Additionally, we extended the grace period on pension payments from 3 to 6 months to help these communities in their recovery and restoration efforts.

Commitment to Churchwide Priorities:

Pro-Reconciliation / Anti-Racism: In addition to utilizing the principles of the Executive Search Process, Pension Fund staff engaged Reconciliation Ministries for Cultural Awareness Training with Rev. Sandhya Jha. Our Senior Leadership Team participated in the Executive Leadership School, including Pro-Reconciliation / Anti-Racism Training, Prevention of Harrassment, and Financial Ethics.

Compliance with Board Diversity: For the first time in over a decade, Pension Fund’s Board of Directors meet the 30% racial-ethnic diversity requirements of the Assembly.

Young Adult Leadership Development: We have expanded Student Gift Pensions to include undergraduate students who are pre-ministerial studies, serving in paid internships and Global Mission Interns.

New Church: Pension Fund is exploring with our legal counsel the tax liability of partnering with regions to provide matching funds to new church planters, who are intentionally seeking to start a new worshipping community.

Board Membership

     2019                                                           2020                                                           2021

Peggy Brittan*                                   Rev. Thaddaeus Allen                                    Josh Santana*

Kelly Bauer                                               Brenda Cline                                         Camilla Lindsey

Randy Clayton*                                       Charlene Butz                                     Rev. James Johnson

Kelly Nelson                                             Rev. Bill Lee                                          Rev. Jabari Butler

Rev. Esteban Doble-Gonzales              Rev. Janet Long                                          Chad Turner

Greg Smith*                                   Linda Hernandez-Williams*                           Rev. Sydney Avent


*2019 Board Officers


[1] Smith, W.M; For the Support of Ministry; pg. 49.

[2] Ibid; pg. 54.

[3] This reports was submitted on Dec. 27, 2018, therefore 2018 Finanacial Information was not available.



General Board Report
January 2, 2019
Rick Lowery, President DCHS

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A stable foundation for the future

Disciples of Christ Historical Society has been in a period of transition the last few years, as we have relocated from Nashville, Tennessee, to Bethany, West Virginia. The move is now complete, and DCHS is well positioned to accomplish our mission to preserve and proclaim the story of Disciples of Christ within the broader Stone-Campbell tradition, with its distinctive witness to the essential unity of the church as sign and “harbinger” of God’s transforming work of justice and peace in the world.

Our finances are stable. Our budget is balanced. Our future is bright.

Thanks to the strong leadership of our Board, the prudent investment strategy of Christian Church Foundation, which now manages the bulk of the investments that help fund our ministry, and the competent and rigorous accounting of Treasury Services in the Office of the General Minister and President, we are financially secure and transparent in our stewardship of resources devoted to this important ministry. We have strict and reasonable rules in place for the responsible management and growth of our endowment. Our finances are audited as part of Treasury Services’ annual audit. We are living within our means. We are hopeful about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

In 2017, the Historical Society conducted a national search for a new president, following the Executive Search Process established by the General Board (rev. 04-08-2013). I was called and subsequently installed as president on November 5, 2017, at National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., an event that coincided with the dedication of DCHS’s Oscar Haynes Exhibit on African American Disciples History, on permanent loan to National City. In 2019, we will update that exhibit with additional papers, photographs, and other important artifacts that chronicle the historic contribution of African-American Disciples to the life and witness of our church.

Under the leadership of archivist Shelley Jacobs, a team of part-time workers, including several Bethany College students, continues to organize the archival collection and unpack our extensive library of books and journals related to the Stone-Campbell movement. We continue to receive and process files and documents from congregations, regions, and various ministries from the three major “streams” of the Stone-Campbell tradition.

In the coming months we will begin the long, careful process of checking and digitizing our card catalog and making it available online. We are, in the normal course of responding to research requests, scanning materials and increasing the number of documents, files, and photos stored in digital as well as physical form. That process will continue and, we hope, accelerate in the future. Our goal is to make the collection more accessible to researchers who may not be able to travel to Bethany, WV.

In 2018, we responded to research requests from scholars and other researchers from around the world from all three streams of the Stone-Campbell movement and from a variety of other Christian and religious and non-religious backgrounds. For example, we hosted and assisted a prominent Church of Christ historian writing a new biography of Alexander Campbell, and, in the process, discovered what we believe is a never-before-published image of Campbell. We provided access to materials for use in books, articles, genealogical research, and televised documentaries. In August, for example, in collaboration with Global Ministries, we hosted a television crew from Nanjing, China, making a documentary about Disciples mission workers Lewis Smythe and James McCallum, who helped protect Chinese civilians during the Nanjing Massacre in 1937-1938 and later filed affidavits with their diaries and letters to document the atrocity. DCHS preserves many of their papers and diaries. This documentary, which aired recently on Chinese television, was a follow-up to an earlier documentary that also featured materials from DCHS about Nanjing Disciples mission workers Minnie Vautrin and Miner Searle Bates who, in an effort to protect civilians, also stayed in Nanjing when the Japanese army entered the city. (A striking bronze relief of Minnie Vautrin facing off soldiers to protect Chinese women and girls behind her outstretched arms is prominently featured in the Nanjing Massacre Museum in Nanjing.) Preserving and telling these and other stories of courage and faith is the beating heart of our mission at DCHS.

In 2018, we closed our “Welcome to Bethany!” Capital Campaign, which brought more than $300,000 of gifts and pledges to complete renovations to the Bethany facility and thus support the work of the Society. DCHS is especially grateful to our capital campaign chairs, Peter and Lynne Morgan, whose good names, diligent work, and unyielding faith in the mission of the Historical Society inspired the many contributors who made the campaign such a resounding success.

We are continuing to improve our website, having accomplished a major overhaul in 2018. We plan in 2019 to add features that will increase the usefulness of the website for online research.

In 2018, the DCHS Board took the initial step toward a strategic planning process with a day-long session immediately before our fall Board meeting. We anticipate refining the results of our initial conversation in preparation for our Board meeting in March of 2019.

Additions to our 12-person Board of Trustees, effective in January 2019, enhanced diversity, giving us 50-50 gender balance and increasing representation by persons of color to 33.3%.

Collaboration among the three “streams” of the Stone-Campbell tradition

DCHS has a distinctive mandate to promote collaboration between the three major streams of the Stone-Campbell movement: Disciples of Christ, Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, and a cappella Churches of Christ.

To embody that mandate, our ByLaws require that we have at least one representative from the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and one representative from the Churches of Christ on our Board of Trustees. We are in compliance with that requirement and cherish the insightful contributions and dedicated work of these Stone-Campbell partners.

In other ways as well, we have worked to maintain and strengthen ties with all three streams of the movement. In June 2018, I attended and staffed a DCHS booth at the North American Christian Convention in Indianapolis. Also in 2018, DCHS participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities grant proposal led by Abilene Christian University to digitize and connect backlist titles related to Stone-Campbell history. Our hope, should the grant proposal succeed, is to create a place on the web where researchers can locate and access basic resources in the various Stone-Campbell collections. This effort is consistent with the explicitly stated desire of our Board that DCHS encourage collaboration between the various libraries and archives of the three streams of the Stone-Campbell tradition.

Here at Bethany, we continue to arrange for tours of the Campbell Mansion for pastor’s classes and other visitors from congregations representing all three streams.

Among constituencies within the Disciples stream of the Stone-Campbell movement in 2018, I represented DCHS at General Board and General Cabinet meetings and at the biennial assemblies of National Convocation, Obra Hispana, and NAPAD.

In 2018, I covered both ends of the Stone-Campbell historical spectrum, giving the Founder’s Day Address at Bethany College in March and the Cane Ridge Heritage Day address at Cane Ridge Meeting House in Kentucky in June. In these lectures, I explored the morally mixed legacy evident in the writings and practices of Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone with regard to the abhorrent American practice of human enslavement.

Telling stories suppressed, ignored

An especially important part of the mission of DCHS in the next period will be to help recover and tell stories that have been by default or design suppressed or under-reported in the overall telling of our story as a church.

We will take a significant step in that direction at General Assembly this year.

In the 1880s, Preston Taylor, an African-American Disciple born in 1849 as an enslaved person in Louisiana, started a funeral business and bought land for a cemetery on the top of a hill in Nashville, Tennessee, the current site of the historic Greenwood Cemetery. It was a humane and revolutionary act, because African Americans had severely limited access to proper funeral care and burial in Nashville at that time. In fact, cemeteries there typically had rules explicitly forbidding the burial of people of African descent. Taylor also created an amusement park on the property he bought that allowed African-American children to have access to recreation otherwise available in Nashville to “whites only.” Taylor also organized the first black bank in Nashville and took the lead in creating the Tennessee State Agricultural and Industrial Normal School for Negroes (later, Tennessee A&I State College), which is now Tennessee State University, an historically black state land grant university that today serves a diverse population of students from Middle Tennessee and around the world.

In 1917, Taylor was instrumental in forming the National Christian Missionary Convention (NCMC), an auxiliary organization to the International Convention of Christian Churches (ICCC), to serve needs of African-American Disciples being inadequately addressed, he and others thought, in the agencies and structures of the ICCC. Taylor served as president of NCMC from its founding until his death in 1931.

In the mid-1950s, under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. R.H. Peoples, pastor of Second Christian Church in Indianapolis, NCMC began to develop a process to eventually merge the work of NCMC with that of ICCC and the United Christian Missionary Society.

In 1968, Disciples approved two historic documents. The first, “A Proposed Recommendation on Principles for Merger…” (commonly called “The Merger Agreement”) formally brought together NCMC and ICCC, to bring to full fruition a process that had already begun in 1960. The second document, The Design of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),” was, effectively, the constitution of our denomination. In 1969, the restructured church held its first biennial General Assembly in Seattle, Washington. The 2019 General Assembly marks the 50th Anniversary of that first General Assembly of the new church that emerged from the Merger Agreement and The Design.

On Tuesday evening of the 2019 General Assembly, we will commemorate these two historic documents and look to the “second fifty years” of our life as a denomination. DCHS is collaborating with the Office of the General Minister and President and the General Assembly worship committee to plan and conduct this liturgical celebration of our past and our future at this key moment in our church’s history. As part of this evening celebration from the main stage of the Assembly, we will show a brief video of interviews with people who were close-up eye-witnesses to The Merger Agreement and The Design.

At this General Assembly, we will also sponsor a panel discussion evaluating The Merger Agreement and The Design at the half-century mark.

DCHS is also collaborating with Chalice Press to publish a book centered around transcriptions of audio-taped interviews conducted in 1990-1991 by James Seale, former president of DCHS, with a number of key figures in the process of Restructure that led to the Merger Agreement and The Design. The book, co-edited by myself, Duane Cummins, Peter Morgan, and Lawrence Burnley, will include comments on the broader social-historical context of Restructure, as well as reflections by Disciples leaders today on where we stand as a denomination at the half-century mark. This will be the first volume in the new James and Mary Dudley Seale Series on Disciples and Public Engagement. It will be available for purchase at General Assembly.

There, we also will launch the multi-year “Make Disciples History” audio archive project. Modeled on NPR’s “StoryCorps,” “Make Disciples History” will invite people to record about 5 minutes of response to the questions, “What difference does my church make in my life?” and “What difference does my church make in the world?” We are particularly hopeful that this project will highlight the racial-ethnic diversity of our church and give voice to those who often have been underrepresented in published histories of our tradition. In concert with this project, we are offering a workshop on storytelling.

We also are joining with the Council on Christian Unity for an evening meal at General Assembly featuring the Rev. Peter Marty, publisher of The Christian Century, who will speak about Disciples minister C.C. Morrison, who bought the failing Disciples publication in 1908 and refocused it as a “nondenominational” magazine committed to the “social gospel” understanding of Christian faith. Marty will explore how Morrison’s vision of faith for the public good plays out today, particularly in issues of interfaith understanding and collaboration.

A final word

My colleagues in the General Cabinet have been wonderfully supportive of the Historical Society and of me personally as I have worked to get up to speed in the job. I particularly appreciate the leadership and support of the DCHS Board and of our General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens. I am honored to serve in this important ministry of remembrance and ongoing recommitment to the core values that have sustained and defined us a movement for wholeness in this fragmented world.

Respectfully submitted,

Rick Lowery