A message from Rich Smith (retired UCC pastor and occasional guest preacher at Southwest Conference churches)
During my forty years of parish ministry I plugged a lot of special offerings, including the one our churches take this month, known as the Christmas Fund. I always knew this was instigated by the UCC Pension Boards to provide special assistance to the retired ministers of our denomination, who often outlived their pensions or encountered unexpected hardships, but I have to admit that while I always gave something to this offering (to set a good example) I was fairly naive and didn’t really know anybody who was actually helped by these gifts. But then I retired. And while we’re quite well taken care of by the financial wizards at the Pension Boards, I had my eyes opened when I agreed to become the Annuitant Visitor for the UCC in Southern Arizona. That means I’m the conduit between the Pension Boards and some 30 retired clergy or their surviving spouses. My task is to check up on them once a year, preferably in person, thank them for their service, let them know they are not forgotten by their church, see first-hand how they’re doing, and discern if they have any financial needs that the Pension Boards can help with.
Even though I’ve just gotten started on this, I have already reported one such situation, and am becoming aware of others as I go along. I’m glad to be part of a church that doesn’t just kick its retired clergy out to pasture and hope the forage doesn’t run out, but continues to care for them, as they have cared for us for so many years. This year over 500 Christmas checks will be issued totaling $230,000; Over 400 have been receiving annuity supplements coming to $1.3 million; Over 200 get help with their health insurance premiums; and nearly 350 in Texas and Florida have received $130,000 in emergency hurricane relief. This could not and would not happen without your gifts, so I hope you will join me in saying thanks, in caring for those who cared for us. and generously giving to the Christmas Fund! Thank you!