Benefits Board Founder O. Wayne Chambers Passes Away

Rev. O. Wayne Chambers, a former leader at the International Offices, Pathway Press, and Lee University, passed away on Monday, September 21, 2020. He had just celebrated his 85th birthday this past Sunday.

Chambers’ life, career, and ministry touched thousands of lives leaving an indelible, positive impression in many areas. He served for more than 12 years as an administrator at the Church of God International Offices, as administrative coordinator to the general overseer, director of pensions and legal services, and the first president of the Church of God Benefits Board, Inc., the former Church of God Ministers Retirement Fund. He also directed operations for the biennial Church of God General Assembly for many years. He spent the early years of his ministry at Lee College, now Lee University, where he served as director of finance and director of development between 1966-1978. He was director of business and finance at the Church of God Publishing House and was pastor of the Southern Hills Church of God in Oklahoma City from 1980-1987.

Chambers’ most enduring legacy will perhaps be as founder of the Church of God Benefits Board, Inc. A resolution of appreciation was presented to Chambers and his wife, Carolyn, in 2016 at the Church of God International General Assembly in Nashville. The resolution stated that Chambers first broached the idea in 1977, “for the creation of a Pensions Department at the International Offices.” The proposal was to replace the former Aged Ministers Plan, which, “with an estimated monthly benefit of $200.00, had proved inadequate to meet the retirement needs of its qualified members.”

Chambers’ proposal became a reality in 1982 with the launch of the Ministers’ Retirement Plan. He became director of the plan in 1988 and was named president/CEO of the Benefits Board when it was formed 12 years later as its own entity in February 1994.

According to current Benefits Board president, Art Rhodes, at the time Chambers was installed the assets under management were approximately $45 million – having grown from nothing in 1983 to $45 million eleven years later. In the next five years, from 1994 to 1999 when Chambers retired, the assets under management doubled to over $90 million.

“The Board saw phenomenal growth during those first five years under Chambers’ guidance and leadership,” Rhodes stated. “Today the total assets under management at the Benefits Board have grown to $410 million and 5,600 members – with about 4,100 ministers and 1,500 church-related employees in the program.”

“Without the drive and determination that Brother Chambers brought to the effort, there is no doubt in my mind that the Ministers’ Retirement Plan or the Church of God Benefits Board would have never existed,” Rhodes continued. “For years, Brother Chambers single-handedly fought for a better retirement plan than the church was offering through the Aged Ministers Fund. Brother Chambers is a hero to all of us at the Benefits Board.”
Church of God General Overseer Tim Hill said, “O. Wayne Chambers will forever be a pillar in the Church of God for his contributions in leadership. His vision of making lives better for our ministers and others who have invested in the Benefits Board will be an enduring legacy to him.”

Chambers was married to Mary Carolyn Chambers for more than 64 years and they are parents to two daughters, Lisa Davis and Jennifer Dasso, and three grandchildren. Due to the current conditions concerning COVID-19, the funeral service will be private, with a celebration of life at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Chambers endowed scholarship fund at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, 900 Walker St., NW, Cleveland, TN, 373711.

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