Several years ago as they were contemplating selling the campus they stood up in the Student Center at an employee meeting and promise retirement to all the employees that stuck by their side through the Great Theological Debacle that sent tens of thousands of people into hundreds of splinter cults. They even stood up there and said that they would double the years employee's had worked as a Thank-You for being loyal. I remember a minster sitting behind us saying under his breath that we would never see it. We should have listened to him. It never happened, at least the doubling of years.
They did eventually start a retirement program after the campus sale that they said would be funded with the money from the sale. They also stood up there and said that the money would NOT be maintained by the Church but through an outside retirement management company. They said they were doing this to eliminate any conflict of interest.
Well, that did not last long!
In letters that were mailed out this week to all present employee's and those past employee's that they had permitted to join the program, it was announced that the retirement fund was in serious financial trouble because of the "Great Recession."
There are at least three different letters that went out. One to present people in the retirement program, one to future vested ex-employees and another to the ministry. One guess as to WHO gets the shaft in the scenario. The ministry will still get their retirement, while all present retirement beneficiaries and future vested beneficiaries are being paid off in lump sums.
One of the letters said:
"As you know, Grace Communion International (formerly Worldwide Church of God) adopted a Defined Benefit Pension Plan ("Pension Plan") out of concern of its employees in 2004. At the time the Pension Plan was adopted, it was our sincere hope that the assets that were contributed to the Pension Plan, plus the earnings on those amounts, would allow the Pension Plan to be self-sustaining and pay benefits to our current and future retirees throughout their lifetimes. Unfortunately, as I am sure you are aware, the financial markets have substantially underperformed the reasonable expectations of investment professionals since the Pension Plan was established due primarily to what is now being called the "Great Recession." Although we have managed the funds in a prudent manner and have earned a reasonable rate of return over the life of the Pension Plan, the projected growth of the Pension Plan's assets will now likely not, over time, be sufficient to cover the continuing payments to current and future retirees. We are very concerned about this issue.
After careful deliberation, and out of concern for participants, their families and the Church, the Board of Directors has decided to terminate the Pension Plan with respect to exiting employee's and vested terminees.
This is causing serious concern to many elderly employees who have health issues because of their age and because of the work they performed for the Church. They had counted on this retirement through the remainder of their life. Now that has all be shot out the window.
The Church will be making lump sum payments to those presently in the program with a buy out. If you take the lump sum and don't roll it over, you will have over 30% taken out in taxes. Because the church for decades never paid into Social Security, because Herbert saw no need for it (the church was supposed to take care of it's own) they do not have large Social Security payments coming to them. They were counting on this to help maintain housing and for food.
However, through this debacle there is one group of men who will still maintain their retirement. All the leadership of the church and the ministry who remain in good standing. When you are already making salaries in the $100,000+ (I have seen the pay stubs) this is just another added benefit. The lowly employees who worked for the church for12 years or more without raises or cost of living increases continually got the shaft, even as the ministers received raises, cost of living increases and year end $10-15,000.00 bonuses.
Hundreds of employee's were refused admittance to the program. Some former ministers were not allowed to have any part of it, even those who did not join other splinter cults.
One long time loyal member of the church said, "We just got fucked again!" Another said, "Lies, lies lies! That's all they have ever ever done to us." One women said, "Why I ever trusted them I have no idea! I guess I thought they were Christians. How wrong I was!" Another remarks, "Even after all these years they still have their claws in us."
I guess we all thought that since this was a Church, a church that had seen the Light and reformed it's erroneous ways, that would actually put the New Covenant into practice. How wrong were were. Apparently they are just as morally bankrupt as Gerald Flurry, Dave Pack and Rod Meredith.