Eligibility Information

Employees are eligible for enrollment in the Defined Benefit Plan on:

  • Their date of employment by a qualifying Annual Conference or organization; or
  • The date the Annual Conference or organization which employs them becomes an affiliated organization under the plan.

Effective January 1, 2008, employees are eligible to be enrolled in the Defined Benefit Plan if they are:

  • receiving compensation – AND –
  • an ordained, appointed Pastor to a local church or church plant, a Superintendent of an Annual Conference, or a Conference Ministerial Candidate appointed as a Senior Pastor to a local church or church plant. – OR –
  • A person who is employed at least 25 hours a week, or who has worked full time at least five months out of each year, and…- Is employed as part of an Annual Conference staff and who receives compensation from an approved Annual Conference budget (all income generated by conference activities including allocations);- Is an eligible employee of the World Ministries Center; or- If such election is approved, any person employed directly by an organization or institution which elects coverage for its employees.

If an employee is serving a church in a part-time supportive position (such as a music director, youth pastor, visitation pastor) and the local church has elected not to extend benefits to the position, this person should not be appointed by the conference (the individual should not be listed on the conference appointment sheet). A contribution is payable on behalf of an employee only if that employee is appointed by the Annual Conference and receives a cash salary and/or housing compensation.

In addition, those who were employed and eligible for the pension program prior to January 1, 2008 will continue in the plan. Anyone who was employed and eligible for the pension program prior to January 1, 2008 and has not yet submitted their enrollment form should do so immediately.

Plan Eligibility for Employees Prior to January 1, 2008:

  1. A person who is officially under appointment as a pastor, ministerial candidate, supply pastor, career missionary, or a superintendent of an Annual Conference or other participating group. – OR –
  2. A person who is employed at least 25 hours a week, or who has worked full time at least five months out of each year, and… 

    – Is employed as part of an Annual Conference staff and who receives compensation from an approved Annual Conference budget (all income generated by conference activities including allocations);

    – Is an eligible employee of the World Ministries Center; or

    – If such election is approved, any person employed directly by an organization or institution which elects coverage for its employees.

If an employee is serving a church in a part-time supportive position (such as a music director, youth pastor, visitation pastor) and the local church has elected not to extend benefits to the position, this person should not be appointed by the conference (the individual should not be listed on the conference appointment sheet). A contribution is payable on behalf of an employee only if that employee is appointed by the Annual Conference and receives a cash salary and/or housing compensation.

Participation Waiver

A new option now available is that an employee shall be permitted to irrevocably decline to participate in the plan if they are or will be entitled to receive benefits from a retirement plan maintained by an employer that is not the Church. An employee may also decline to participate in the plan based on cultural traditions, patterns or expectations that are based on non-discriminatory procedures and rules established by the Pension Board.

The right of an employee to decline to participate is optional and voluntary. An employee who has the right to decline participation, but who fails do so in a timely manner shall be eligible to participate in the plan. An employee who timely and properly elects to decline to participate in the plan shall not thereafter be permitted to revoke such declination. Individuals who waive participation based on the options need to understand there will not be another opportunity to come back into the program.  This will also apply to all other Free Methodist local church, employer-sponsored retirement programs.

To print a copy of this waiver, please click here.