The Christian Reformed Church in North America is introducing a new retirement plan that congregations in the United States can make available to commissioned pastors and other church staff.

“As a denomination, we’ve long had a pension plan for ordained ministers of the Word,” explained John Bolt, director of finance and operations for the CRCNA. “We’ve struggled, however, to figure out how to help churches support other ministry personnel.”

Commissioned pastors include men and women who are ordained for specialized ministry roles at the local and regional levels. Their roles in a church can include positions such as evangelist, chaplain, pastor of outreach, youth pastor, and pastor of congregational life.

Bolt pointed out that a few years ago the CRCNA attempted to make its 401(k) program available to church staff including commissioned pastors, but the administration required from each congregation made it too difficult to meet the regulatory requirements of such plans. So now the denomination is pleased to be able to offer an alternate retirement-plan option.

“After much research, we became aware of Envoy Financial, a firm out of Colorado Springs, Colo., that focuses all of its work on Christian groups and denominations,” said Bolt. “They have a tool that we think will be a great fit for our churches and will allow us to provide greater benefits to commissioned pastors and church personnel.”

The new plan is a 403(b)(9), a defined-contribution plan that also provides a nice side benefit for personnel who are ordained.

“Unlike some other retirement plans, once the 403(b)(9) begins distributing funds to ordained pastor retirees, a portion of the payments can be counted as housing allowance for tax purposes,” explained Bolt.

This new plan will be administered by Envoy Financial, and each participating congregation will be able to set their own parameters for which of their staff may participate and what the church’s contribution rate will be.

“We are making this available to all U.S. CRCNA churches. Each congregation will connect directly with Envoy to set up their program and will decide for themselves which staff they will add to the plan, what their employer contributions will be, and when employees will qualify for this benefit,” explained Bolt.

Ordained ministers of the Word will continue to be part of the existing Ministers’ Pension program. Ministers of the Word who wish to enhance their retirement benefits will be allowed to participate in the 403(b)(9) as well, but only if they also remain active participants in the Ministers’ Pension plan.

More information will be coming to congregations soon. To learn more, congregations are asked to visit crcna.org/retirement