ACNA head errs on Church Pension Plan

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Foley Beach, the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) made statements about the Church Pension Fund and its treatment of ACNA clergy to the primates at their “gathering” #Primates2016. Beach reports what he said in a video interview with Anglican TV (the video is cued to start where he describes what he said what it would take in reconciliation and restitution).

Here’s the rough autotranscript of what Beach says he reported to the primates regarding pensions:

14:47 fourth I said restore to us our pensions and what most people don’t

14:53 realize is yes

14:55 IRS law in the United States this is United States issue Canada was able to

14:58 keep their pensions but if you retire as a priest there’s a formula that.s used and

15:05 you get a large amount to retire as a layperson it’s a small amount well we’ve

15:11 all been deposed and were considered as lay people so for many of our retired

15:15 people their pension now that they paid in two years and years and years is just

15:21 a minimal little things so I said to us our pensions in order to do that you

15:25 would have to rescind the depositions that you had against us and you could

15:32 feel silence in the room but people

15:34 then felt the gravity of what’s been done and where we are and I I mean them

15:41 no ill will you know I pray that God will lead them to a place of repentance

To clear up the errors in Beach’s understanding of the Pension Fund and payments to deposed or removed clergy, Curt Ritter, Head of Corporate Communications for the Fund writes in answer to questions by the Café team:

If a cleric is deposed or removed, he or she may no longer actively participate in the Clergy Pension Plan. However, any vested retirement benefits that have been earned by the cleric up to the date of deposition or removal will be available to the cleric when he or she retires. Their pension benefit will be based on the clergy benefit calculation. Once deposed they are ineligible to earn credited service.

Also as a side note, some of the confusion around this may be because when a cleric is deposed their title changes to secular titles, however their benefits do not.

All the clergy benefit formulas are listed on page 22 and 23 in the Guide which is on the website.

It is surprising that the Primate of ACNA and we assume other clergy in that church do not know how their pensions, that were earned before they voluntarily left the Episcopal Church, are being faithfully administered on their behalf. One of Beach’s demands for reconciliation to occur is “reparations for lost pensions.” But it seems nothing was lost after all. Nothing lost, but the primates were left misinformed.

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Quigg Lawrence
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Quigg Lawrence

Jeremy: You suggest strongly that Church of the Holy spirit and I violated the Dennis Canon . . . that our vestry "had titled property outside the diocese, so the bishop thought, logically enough, that you were outside the diocese. It seems to me as though the bishop took you at your word." Very wrong assumption that must be corrected. FACT: When the diocese and national church had no money to help our parish buy land or start building we had a foundation of church and non-church members approach us and offer to raise the money for us and other churches. The Terumah Foundation was was not only IRS approved but also approved of by former Bishop Heath Light who said he saw it as no different than renting from the private school we were renting from in 1994. ECUSA chancellor/attorney David Booth Beers and 815 got very involved trying to take our property but were obviously unsuccessful. They could not take what we never owned. This chain reminds me of why rape victims hesitate to speak up. They are almost always painted as the one at fault. I am out of this discussion. God knows what happened and so do journalist Julia Duin and David Virtue.

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Prof Christopher Seitz
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Prof Christopher Seitz

OK, I have read AKMA's testimony (from some years back) about his desire to leave TEC and transfer to the SEC.

The comments at the thread are interesting. Some thought him very wrong to 'renounce' his orders on a wink-wink basis.

I cannot tell from what he writes but it sounds like under those wink-wink conditions his CPF status was unaffected.

Reading this new GC Canon III.9. Section 5 gives a different impression. It states, "...the sending Diocese shall notify the CPF and the Recorder of Ordinations of the priest's departure from TEC."

I suppose a Bishop could agree to an extension of ministry for CPF purposes but less clear is whether CPF would OK it.

So if this is clearing up a grey area, it may well be creating a different one.

Of course AKMA's situation involved the SEC which apparently couldn't roster him as a Priest.

I believe he is now in England so who knows what new wrinkle that may have introduced given his working premises.

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Prof Christopher Seitz
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Prof Christopher Seitz

PS Mother Fontaine

"Some clergy were being asked to renounce when moving to another Province of the Communion."

I am curious to know why you say this.

Given that other Provinces typically don't care about the Province one is leaving and its polity -- they have their own ways of determining fitness, ordination, etc -- you must be referring to cases where the individual wants to sever relationship with TEC and TEC wants a way to regularize that.

Again, this is of interest as it speaks to the character of cross-Province relationships within the AC, which as you note above has typically and intentionally been left undeveloped in this area.

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Prof Christopher Seitz
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Prof Christopher Seitz

"If I were to transfer to Canada and be fully received into the Canadian church as a priest, would I be eligible to use CPF in lieu of the Canadian system?"

Yes. But your ministry in Canada would need to be approved by a TEC Bishop as an "extension of ministry" and this paperwork submitted to CPG for approval.

Oddly enough, there is no inter-provincial system for formally 'leaving' a province' and 'joining another.'

TEC has no canon that speaks of clergy voluntarily leaving except one in which they renounce their vows made at ordination.

What this means in effect is that one can be received as a Priest in a different Province, licensed and rostered, but one remains in the former TEC Diocese all the same in some ill-defined sense. Unless one resigns altogether, and then the CPG handles it accordingly.

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Member

Since the pension fund exists solely for TEC clergy and qualified lay employees, I don't see why depositions matter. Can one leave TEC employment/residency and still be in the Fund? If I were to transfer to Canada and be fully received into the Canadian church as a priest, would I be eligible to use CPF in lieu of the Canadian system? It seems to me that if yuh leave TEC, you leave TEC. It's illogical to disaffiliate from TEC's jurisdiction and expect to stay in the CPF, unlike a cleric who lives parish ministry for lay employment yet still accepts TEC jurisdiction and authority.

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JC Fisher
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JC Fisher

"1. two of our bishop’s being on the board of Planned Parenthood, 2. One being the chairman of PP Board while Planned Parenthood referred and actually did 100’s of abortions in Roanoke and 3. bringing PP into Annual Council and 4. bringing a practicing homosexual [sic] priest to be the Keynote Speaker at Annual Council"

TBTG! God bless and defend the Episcopal Church from those who are, as above, "teaching doctrines contrary to Scripture, The BCP and the Catechism."

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Jeremy Bates
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Jeremy Bates

Here is the (much briefer) Episcopal News Service account of your departure:

"Church of the Holy Spirit, Roanoke, Virginia, a parish of 700 in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia. On March 2, the parish opted out of the Episcopal Church. 'When they built their church building, they established an independent non-profit corporation to hold title to the property, allowing them to leave any time,' wrote Bishop Neff Powell to the diocese. 'Should they ask to return as an Episcopal Church, I will welcome them back with open arms, possibly killing the fatted calf.' By May, Powell had inhibited Holy Spirit's rector, the Rev. Quigg Lawrence, following an investigation in which the Standing Committee unanimously determined that Lawrence had 'abandoned the Communion of this Church.' Powell will depose Lawrence at the conclusion of the six-month period unless Lawrence makes a retraction or denial of the Standing Committee's findings."

On the above facts, it sounds to me as though you or your vestry tried to violate the Dennis Canon (which requires that property be held in trust for the diocese) without suffering any consequences. Obviously you didn't get away with it. Did you ever retract, as requested?

You or the vestry had titled property outside the diocese, so the bishop thought, logically enough, that you were outside the diocese. It seems to me as though the bishop took you at your word.

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Prof Christopher Seitz
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Prof Christopher Seitz

Ann/Mother Fontaine,

Thank you for this update which I was unaware of, from GC 2015 (last summer).

This appears to be a TEC resolution that contemplates a TEC Priest moving to another Province of the AC (without any negative intention or circumstances) and wishing a transfer out of TEC.

Is this how you understand its intent?

I would wonder whether this transfer out would not foreclose on ongoing CPG contributions. Perhaps not, as an 'extension of ministry.'

So long as TEC is not considered 'walking apart' (which the last Primates Meeting did not conclude) a Priest in TEC could leave TEC in good standing and also continue some form of vesting continuity in CPG.

Please comment further as to what you regard as the intent and scope of this reference.

God bless.

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Prof Christopher Seitz
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Prof Christopher Seitz

Dear Mother Fontaine

I see the resolution makes the role of the CPG clear in the text.

It is as one would expect.

I know that some jurisdictions in the Communion have no view on the status of Priests in the provinces they have left. They simply care about their own rules and rostering and regard TEC's polity and canons as irrelevant to that determination. Said Priest may do as she or he wishes on that score.

So it may be that this is for someone who genuinely 'wants out' of TEC for some reason.

I do note that what goes around comes around. It asks the TEC Bishop if the one wanting transfer out has been 'justly liable to evil report for error in religion.'

One may wonder what that now constitutes! If one opposed her/his Bishop on same-sex marriage, would the Bishop not need to regard this as an 'error in religion' and so not sign?

Those nasty errors in religion don't want to go away after all!

Thanks again. I was unaware of this new GC development and find it very interesting for wider AC affairs.

I have been licensed in SEC and in Canada so wonder if any of this will be put into action.

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Jeremy Bates
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Jeremy Bates

"I did not choose to stop being a ECUSA (now TEC) priest. It was decided for me."

Question: Before this was "decided for [you]," as you put it, did your vestry in the year 2000 vote to leave The Episcopal Church?

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John Chilton
Editor
John Chilton

Once a vested member of Church Pension Fund defined benefit fund, always a member - regardless of whether you leave.

That's the same in the secular world. It's called playing by the rules of the fund, and the CPF is playing by those rules. Contrary to the statement of the leader of ACNA.

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Prof Christopher Seitz
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Prof Christopher Seitz

I fail to see any disagreement, Mr. Chilton.

Clergy who were 'abandoned' are not longer employed.

They cannot make contributions.

They are vested. But they cannot accumulate their best seven years.

If they were abandoned prior to vesting, they are not vested.

If they were abandoned prior to ten years, they get no medicare supplement.

I think we agree on the above so I don't understand your comment.

As this is my response having made other responses on moving across provinces (I have served in Canada, Europe and the SEC) I don't know if this comment will appear.

God bless.

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Prof Christopher Seitz
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Prof Christopher Seitz

Unless I misunderstood the gist of +Beach's comment, it had nothing to do with being vested (or not, if one was 'abandoned' prior to the minimal years).

Yes, one is always vested.

But one cannot continue to have contributions made because if one has been unilaterally declared 'abandoned' then no Bishop in TEC will give approval to this.

If one moves to work in Canada, e.g., a Bishop can approve that via an extension of ministry and contributions can be made by the church or institution. But the Canadian contribution is less than TEC's/CPG's so one would have to make up the difference to get to the robust 18% being required for TEC clergy.

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John Chilton
Editor
John Chilton

Oh my, where to start? Having your cake and eatting it too might suffice.

I didn't say Beach referred to vesting - I was attempting to address a comment made here. So, a misdirection ploy from the start of your comment.

Here's a few points.

1. Beach said the departing clergy were demoted to meager lay pensions. False. Absolute nonsense. How is it that the leader of the flock is so misinformed?
2. Abandonment has nothing to do with being able to continue to make contributions. Not being employed (if you'll allow me to use secular language) in TEC is why they can't make contributions. That's the way it is in any job (again, using secular language for clarity). Add to that how bizarre that would be if you left employment but occupied the building and kept your "customers."
3. Some ACNA clergy have reconciled with TEC and returned to TEC employment. Contributions resume on their behalf by their employer. Just as in the secular world.
4. Regarding the example of ACoC and TEC, the example would only be germane if ACNA and TEC recognized each other in the same way. Red herring ploy.

I'm sure you'll let me know where there are holes in my logic.

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