By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (June 27, 2014) — In his last-ever financial report to the Annual Meeting, r
Dean Lundgren presented a report showing financial growth.
The Evangelical Covenant Church finished 2013 with a $49,000 surplus, Lundgren informed delegates during today’s business session of the 129th Annual Meeting.
Mission and Ministry revenue was $23.3 million, Lundgren said. Revenue was up 2.3 percent with a 0.8 percent increase in church giving. Expenses were kept at 5.6 percent of what was budgeted. The changes amounted to a net improvement of $329,000 over last year.
The Covenant Pension Plan continues to be in “very strong” shape, Lundgren said. The plan provides retirement benefits to 2,247 active and retired pastors, missionaries, and their surviving spouses.
As of May 31, the plan was 107 percent fully funded. He explained that means the plan has 7 percent more assets than is needed to meet its obligations. That is far better than most plans, he added.
Retirement payments for 2012 totaled $7.3 million, with $90 million in retirement benefits paid over the last 20 years.
Lundgren said the plan continued to record a strong investment performance. Assets increased $29 million (16 percent). Asset recovery from the 2008-2009 financial crisis are up $111 million (109 percent).
In a period of dramatic changes in health care, Bethany Benefit Service kept premiums the same as in 2013. Claims and expenses also were below the previous year.
The plan covers more than 3,400 individuals, providing medical, dental, prescription drug, vision, life, and long-term disability benefits. Those covered include pastors, missionaries, office staff, surviving spouses, and families.
Lundgren said, “While it is not possible to document definitively, it is quite likely that the Covenant is the only organization—profit or nonprofit—in the country that for 2014 had no medical rate increase and a fully funded defined benefit pension plan.”
During 2013, National Covenant Properties disbursed nearly $40 million to fund projects involving 48 local Covenant churches. Total assets were roughly $376 million, down about 1 percent, with loans currently totaling $268 million.
More than 260 Covenant congregations have invested a total of more than $40 million in Investment Demand Accounts since they were introduced in 2009. The accounts currently yield 1.5 percent.
During 2013, assets under management by Covenant Trust Company rose to $603 million, a 17 percent increase.
Covenant Trust Company distributed in excess of $7.2 million to Covenant causes at the local church, regional conference, and denominational levels in 2013. Assets currently under management exceed $550 million.
Lundgren is retiring after 22 years of service at Covenant Offices and took time to offer personal reflections on the experience.
“Over this period of time, I have worked with 50 pension board members, 110 executive board members, and 75 members of the Council of Administrators and Council of Superintendents,” he said. “I have served on more finance, investment, and other committees than I can count!
He continued, “As a lifelong Covenanter, it has been a wonderful privilege and opportunity to serve in a financial leadership position to facilitate progress in the mission and ministry of my denomination—the Evangelical Covenant Church,” he said.