Our United Methodist pastors in New England live in church owned housing throughout most, if not all, of their careers. Salaries are adjusted to compensate for these parsonages, which means that our families build little or no equity towards retirement housing.
When the “golden age” of retirement is reached, our pastors have two basic choices. First, they can dip into retirement savings to buy a home, which is all the more difficult with the loss of low down payment programs in the current housing crisis. This means even less income with the loss of a large portion of pension savings to housing acquisition.
Second, they can enter the rental market, which means variable housing costs and occasionally moving when landlords sell properties or change their rental programs.
In addition, New England housing in general is in the higher cost range compared with other communities across the nation. This means that many of our retirees must leave this area to find more affordable housing, often leaving behind family and relatives.
Some of our pastors are fortunate to inherit housing or acquire property by some other means. Many live in vacation homes that have been winterized for retirement living. But a number of our retirees and surviving spouses have few, if any, viable options for comfortable and affordable retirement living.
The Preachers’ Aid Society of New England, as part of its ministry to our retired pastors and surviving spouses, has adopted an initiative in this area designed to help those clergy families who are looking for safe, energy efficient and affordable housing without having to draw down pension funds as a down payment. Our community in Gilford New Hampshire (Wesley Woods – in cooperation with Deaconess Abundant Life Communities) has eight homes now fully occupied. These are one bedroom, one bedroom plus a den, and two bedroom homes in a small retirement community on the property of the First United Methodist Church of Gilford/Laconia.
Our second community, called “Wesley by the Sea” is located in Wells Maine and will eventually have 21 homes reserved for retired United Methodist pastors and surviving spouses. The first two of these homes are completed and will be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2010. Wesley by the Sea will also include a small community building with guest quarters and a gathering space for small functions.
In all, the Society’s housing initiative is designed to serve about 5% of our retired families who would benefit from this type of housing opportunity.
“LEEDS Certification.” The homes in Wesley by the Sea are built to the highest standards of energy efficiency and environmental compatibility. They will be heated at less than 50% of the cost of conventional construction. Recycled building materials are used wherever practical. In addition to its long-standing program of socially responsible investing, the Board of Directors of the Society is very much committed to being energy and environmentally conscious in all that we do. LEEDS certification is available to only homes build to the very highest of these standards.
With the approval of Bishop Peter D. Weaver and our Annual Conference Council on Finance and Administration, the Society is seeking congregations and individuals who will help us raise three million dollars ($3,000,000.00) to complete this project. Included in this capital campaign will be about $300,000.00 or more for the Central Conference Pension Initiative. The balance of these funds will be used entirely for our retired pastors housing needs as they are being addressed by the Preachers’ Aid Society. Local congregations are being encouraged to consider our appeal as part of the larger mission and ministry needs identified as unique to their church communities.
In order to achieve this goal, we will need several very substantial donations from those whose hearts are moved to help our retired pastors in this way and many smaller donations from those who appreciate the many sacrificial years of service our pastors give throughout their ministries.
Donations of appreciated securities and planned gifts may be made in consultation with our Executive Director, Thom Gallen, at the contact information below. Online giving is also possible through the Preachers’ Aid website at www.preachersaid.org. Please note your gift for “Wesley.” All gifts are tax deductible and receipts will be provided. We deeply appreciate your love and care for our retired pastors through this program.
Preachers’ Aid Society of New England
PO Box 3386
Plymouth, Massachusetts 02361
Dr. Thomas J. Gallen, Executive Director
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