CHICAGO, IL (October 8, 2015) — Three new major projects will provide local Covenant congregations and conferences expanded access to denominational financial resources. As outlined in an announcement today, these projects relate to retirement savings, ministerial compensation resourcing, and lowered transaction costs for online giving.
A letter detailing the projects has been posted online and can be downloaded here.
Paul Hawkinson, treasurer and executive director of finance for the ECC, said the first project has been to designate GuideStone Financial as its preferred vendor for 403(b) “defined contribution” retirement plans, replacing existing vendor Vanguard.
“The change was made after a long process of diligence and review,” Hawkinson said.
The Covenant Pension Plan, in which all Covenant ministers are already required to participate, is separate from the announced changes and will not be affected.
The transition to GuideStone will provide significant benefits to lay church workers and ministers alike, with particular tax advantages for ministers. In addition, local churches will be able to quickly implement a program that matches the denomination’s 403(b) plan structure, without the cost and delay normally associated with having to individually construct a plan.
As noted in the memo, this relationship is singularly focused on a 403(b)9 plan, which is outside the scope of services that Covenant Trust Company (CTC) provides. CTC has been integral to the diligence and evaluation process, and continues to be the Covenant’s primary source of expertise for broader personal and institutional asset management and financial planning.
Second, a new approach to providing pastoral compensation resources will offer data that provides more accurate information by using additional variables that better reflect a congregation’s local setting and staffing. It also will provide guidance for compensating different ministry positions.
Last, newly negotiated contracts with vendors also have resulted in lower expenses for churches using the denomination’s online giving resources, which already are offered at costs much lower than many other options in the market.
According to Hawkinson, “We are trying to better equip local ministry to flourish, and will try to consistently use our scale together to provide resources that benefit local ministry.”