Say What Now? AME Church Suspends Payments To Retired Ministers Amid Investigation Of Pension Funds

One of the nation’s largest Black Protestant denominations has stopped making payments to retired ministers on its pension plan.

via: BET

According to the Wall Street Journal, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has reported as many as 2.5 million members, suspended the pension payments to retirees after it found possible financial irregularities in the denomination’s pension fund.

The church stated via a press release that an outside regulation agency is investigating “a doable monetary crime.”

It’s unknown how much money is being investigated but the funds include contributions from 5,000 people, including ministers and bishops.

The press release read, “The AME Church takes this crime severely. We’re additionally dedicated to creating each fund participant complete by restoring their full funding plus curiosity.”

The Wall Street Journal reports, as of 2017, the church had approximately $120 million in retirement assets. Church pensions are exempt from federal regulation laws and are not covered by federal insurance, according to the Pension Rights Center.

Back in February, Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath of the AME’s 13th Episcopal District in Tennessee, wrote on his blog that the pension fund was “overvalued by as much as 70%” and added, “The fix will be large, painful, and not loved by anyone. Let’s gird up our loins and DO IT.”

Leath has not spoken out about the recent suspension of retirement benefits.

Founded by Black Methodists who were part of the Free African Society in the late 1700s, the AMEC now has members in 39 countries, organized into episcopal districts. Decisions in the denomination are made primarily by the AME’s 21 bishops, according to the denomination’s website.

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