Here is some welcome news for congregations that might be facing some financial struggles during this difficult time.
Last August the WELS VEBA Commission offered a one-month premium holiday for the WELS VEBA Group Health Care Plan. No premiums were charged to calling bodies for WELS VEBA for that month.
The WELS VEBA Commission has also announced that there will be no increase in the 2021 premium rates for WELS VEBA. The commission is pleased to provide this rate stability to help support WELS ministry efforts. WELS VEBA health plan rates for 2021 are available on the Benefit Plans website.
In addition to steady health care rates, the WELS Benefits Plans Office has implemented a Pension Plan contribution holiday during the October 2020 quarter. No contributions were charged to calling bodies for pension benefits this quarter. This is a savings of $1,132 per full-time called worker and a total of about $5 million in savings across all of WELS.
Finally, there will be no increase in the 2021 contribution rates for the WELS Pension Plan. Maintaining the 2020 contribution rates will adequately fund projected Plan benefits and expenses in 2021.
Both the WELS VEBA Commission and the WELS Retirement Program Commission are pleased to take these steps to help support WELS ministry efforts. The savings resulting from the premium holidays and the “no increase” rates should result in significant savings for calling bodies.
For calling bodies experiencing financial hardship, these decisions will be a welcome blessing. Many congregations, however, have been blessed with a healthy financial situation. If that’s the case with your congregation, you might want to consider using these savings in other ways. Some suggestions are:
- A one-time additional gift to the synod’s general operating fund or to a specific area of ministry
- A special gift to a designated foreign mission
- A gift to the Equipping Christian Witnesses campaign at Martin Luther College
- Providing tuition assistance to a student preparing for the ministry
- Establishing a fund to purchase the new WELS hymnal in the fall of 2021
- Providing help to families in need in your community or giving a special gift to WELS Christian Aid and Relief
We are thankful that God continues to bless our synod and our congregations with the resources necessary to carry out the mission he has given us.
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder