Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pension for Pastors

I had barely 2 days in KK and we drove back to Ranau after lunch though the seminar was scheduled to run until 6pm. It was a choice of driving at night which I rather not do. With a close friend and his wife accompanying the drive was a breeze though for the best part of an hour it was raining heavily. It was the pleasure of sweet fellowship that made the usual arduous journey a bearable one. This friend has been in the pastorate for 35 years and it told as part of our discussion centred on a proposed pension plan for retired pastors.
It may run like this. Pastors without degree, 30 years and 5 years before 60 to be in continuous ministry until retirement. Malaysia's retirement age is 60 but I think 62 is a good age for pensionable pastors. 65 is too old as many pastors start serving in their early 20s. Those with degree, 25 years in service and those with a non-theological degree and work experience, 20 years since it is likely that this group enters ministry late in their 30s or 40s. We were just discussing about how important it is to encourage professionals to enter full-time ministry in church. If they reach 60 they qualify but pension begins only when they are 62 and it should last for 10 only or at most 15 years. Anything beyond that will depend on the church finances of the day. It is difficult to see how the church could afford life long pension like government servants have. The quantum is another issue. Perhaps only 1/3 of the last drawn salary. It won't be much but it helps if the pastor retires in his village and lives simply for the rest of his days. Pastors pension is not meant to be the sole retirement income for pastors. Other form of government help for old folks, personal savings, children's care for the elderly and other sources of ffinance like EPF and ASB high interest saving account for bumiputeras, all these must be factored in as retirmement income. Why is a pension plan for SIB pastors essential? I think 95% of pastors have no savings at all (survival mode throughout their ministry) and no other sources of income. Their meagre EPF savings at best last them 3 to 5 years post-retirement, even that is somewhat optimistic because I know of many pastors who contribute less than RM100.00 into their EPF monthly as their pay is below RM1,000 per month.

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