Cleveland, TN: On February 18, 2019, the Church of God Benefits Board, Inc. celebrated its’ 25th anniversary of providing ministerial retirement benefits for Church of God ministers, missionaries, evangelists, chaplains, and church-related employees.
“At the 1982 General Assembly when the Ministers’ Retirement Plan was created, and then in early 1994 when the International Executive Council approved the incorporation of a separate entity to manage the retirement plan, I am sure that very few imagined that entity would become the mammoth, and complex, financial institution that we know today as the Benefits Board. With multiple corporate entities now under the umbrella of the Benefits Board and almost $400 million of assets under management, the Benefits Board has certainly been blessed over the past 25 years as we have worked to help prepare our participants for retirement,” noted Arthur D. (Art) Rhodes, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Church of God Benefits Board, Inc.
The Church of God has a long history of providing for aging ministers but formalized that process at the 1929 Annual Assembly with the creation of a committee to look after the needs and to provide comfort to older and retired ministers. The church continued to enhance that process in succeeding Assemblies, ultimately creating what became known as the “Aged Ministers’ Fund.”
In the early 1980s, a five-member task force presented a recommendation for a new retirement plan. This recommendation was adopted by the 1982 General Assembly. Therefore, in January 1983, the new proposal, the Ministers’ Retirement Plan, was established under Section 403(b)(9) of the Internal Revenue Code as a separate retirement income account plan, initially administered by the Executive Council of the Church of God.
Some ten years later, General Overseer Lamar Vest appointed a committee to study the creation of a separate entity to oversee the pension funds and resolve concerns about retirement plan assets being commingled with other church funds. In January 1994, the International Executive Council authorized the incorporation of the Church of God Benefits Board and directed the International Executive Committee to appoint an eight (8) person board to lead the corporation, made up of four ministers and four laypersons. On February 18, 1994, the Church of God Benefits Board received its’ Certificate of Incorporation. A concise history of the retirement plan and the creation of the Benefits Board can be found in the Church of God Minutes at S71.
During the creation and for the first five years of operations, the Reverend O. Wayne Chambers served as the chief executive officer of the Benefits Board. Since March 1999, Arthur D. Rhodes has served in that capacity.
“Much credit and honor must be given to the forward-thinking ideas of Wayne Chambers. He truly envisioned what the Benefits Board could be and put us on a trajectory to be able to grow to become one of the largest financial institutions in this area. With the guidance of an incredibly supportive board of directors, the Benefits Board has served, and continues to serve, as a vital part of ministry for Church of God ministers and church-related employees. We are excited about what God is going to do in the next 25 years,” concluded Rhodes.
Besides the chief executive officer, the professional staff of the Benefits Board is comprised of Gayla Iles, Vice President; Donna Hendren, Director of Member Services; Ruth Brown, Benefits Specialist; Angie Conine, Chief Operating Officer for Church Loan Fund; and Vanessa Vowell, Chief Compliance Officer.
The current Board of Directors of the Church of God Benefits Board is led by the Reverend Dr. Mark Walker, and includes Dr. Dennis Watkins, Mr. Dudley Pyeatt, the Reverend Dr. Kirk Walters, the Honorable Judge Christian Coomer, the Reverend Dr. John D. Childers, the Reverend Kevin McGlamery, and Mrs. Yvette Santana. Until his retirement from the Board of Directors in March 2019, Mr. J.T. Jones had either served as a board member or a professional staff member since the board’s inception. Mr. Jones now serves as board member emeritus.
To learn more about the services offered by the Church of God Benefits Board, you may visit the board’s website at www.benefitsboard.com or contact them by phone at (423) 478-7131.