by Shawn Cumberbatch
A disparity which could see clerics receiving pensions while still preaching from the pulpit has turned into an unexpected challenge for the Anglican Church.
Barbados TODAY learnt from reliable sources that a number of clergymen have reached or are nearing 65, the age when they are eligible for pension.
But after a decision was taken a few years ago to increase their retirement age to 70, a clash, which might have to be resolved legally has occurred.
Sources said at least three Anglican clerics, including St. Michael’s Cathedral Dean Frank Marshall, had now reached age 65, but had opted for the later retirement age.
This, the official said, meant the religious leaders would be receiving pension and salary simultaneously, which is not the norm.
“There was a suggestion that the matter might need to go to court for final resolution, but that is still to be determined. There are a number of Anglican priests approaching age 65 so this matter has to be resolved once and for all,” the source noted.
When contacted for a response to reports of the difficulty, Archdeacon Eric Lynch neither denied nor confirmed it, and referred queries to Anglican Bishop John Holder and Chair of the Pensions Board Dr. Kathleen Gordon.
More than a year ago the Anglicans announced a revision of the Diocesan Pension Plan, changes approved in January 2012.
“One feature which was taken into consideration when the DPP was being revised,” the Diocesan statement reported, “was the amendment to the governing rules of the Diocese, enacted in May 2010, which allowed clergymen to retire anytime between age 65 and age 70,” church officials said in a statement.
“The regulations of the DPP preserved the normal retirement age at 65 for pension purposes, however, it provided the member with a number of options if he or she chooses to retire between the age of 65 and 70 years.
“Clergymen can now receive a pension payment from the normal retirement date and cease making contributions to the plan . . . maintain membership in the plan up to the actual retirement date and continue contributions to the plan; or to maintain membership in the plan up to the actual retirement date, however cease contributions to the plan.”
Barbados TODAY understands, however, that the issue has turned out to be not so straightforward and officials want to have it resolved now before more clerics become eligible for pension while deciding to go for later retirement. firstname.lastname@example.org