For nearly ten years, retired ministers in the Supernumerary Fund of the Methodist Church of New Zealand have had no increase in their pension. For some beneficiaries, especially widows, this has been a difficult time.
This seemingly unjust situation has arisen partly because the Government’s Kiwi Saver scheme was required to replace the Church Fund. So this was no longer topped up from ongoing subscriptions as might have been expected.
But there were also more significant changes. First, the Government insisted that the Church’s Supernumerary Fund be put into the hands of a specialist company. It failed to serve the Church well. Then the Government allowed the Church to take back control of its own fund. Through these messy arrangements, substantial capital was lost.
Now a special Committee has been charged by the Conference to find a means of building up the capital again. A logical place for them to look might be the “PAC Endowment” which is open to receive suggestions from anyone in the Church.
Before people start to quibble over the use of PAC funds, the Church could reflect on how this huge fund was created. It came from the long term lease of the Prince Albert College property in Auckland – including but much more than the lovely old terrace shops at the top of Queen St.
Prince Albert College was originally built, on this land which was granted to the Wesleyan Mission in the 1830s for educational work . The school was to provide education for the children of Wesleyan missionaries throughout the Pacific. Instead of having to leave the Mission field to provide schooling for their children in England the missionaries would be able to remain in their chosen work and have their children well educated in the Pacific.
And who paid for this imaginative and costly enterprise? The Missionaries themselves. The Ministers of the time contributed to raise the capital fund that began Prince Albert College. It was to be for their children. They put in the original ten pound shares.
Given this background, it might be seen to be appropriate to transfer some money from the PAC Endowment to ensure that today’s retired clergy and widowed partners receive a pension of which the Church can be proud. Ministers sowed the seeds of that fund in 1836 out of their own pockets. Let the present retirees enjoy a little of the vast harvest of property inflation 180 years later.