One of the biggest shocks I had while visiting the Congo last summer was learning that many of the pastors were paid nothing for their services as local church ministers. The poverty was very great. Those pastors who retire are in an even worse predicament because they have less ability to earn money in other ways due to the health concerns of age. The Central Conference Pension Initiative was established to give some money to help these retired pastors. The goal is $25 million and so far I am happy to report that our denomination has raised a total of $16 million in cash. There are 984 recipients so far in six central conference areas. This is about half of the total need. This initiative, once fully funded, will be a gift that keeps on giving because only the interest from the money will be distributed. In addition this program trains the central conferences how to establish their own pension systems for self-sufficiency in the future.
The people who are getting help are our faithful pastors who have given their lives for years and are now living in extreme poverty. Rev. Pilar Page is one such pastor from one of our conferences in Africa. She was ordained in 1983 and retired in 2004. She recently purchased a mattress with her CCPI-supported pension payments. It is the first mattress she has ever owned. She writes “Until now I have slept on the ground my entire life. Now I sleep so much better. It is the best thing I ever did for my health.” Rev. Page is also in the process of purchasing some farm land and plans to donate a portion of this land to the church. Rev. James Piah was ordained in 1980 and served as the director of connectional ministries until his retirement in 1996. He had problems with his eyesight. With the CCPI support he has been able to have surgery on both eyes and was also able to repair his home. He says “life is very, very good.”
The Philadelphia Area has contributed to this fund. Eastern So far Eastern PA has sent in $60,815 and the Peninsula-Delaware Conference has contributed $91,376. Please continue to give to this very important effort. This is the kind of thing that the United Methodist Connection does that makes a huge impact because we join together to achieve the goal. Donations may be sent to your conference offices (EPA – PO Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482, PDC – 139 N. State Street, Dover, DE 19901). For more information check out the CCPI on line at www.ccpi-umc.org.