About Church Benefits Plans

Plans and ProgramsChurch benefits plans and programs have a long and successful history in meeting the needs of clergy and lay workers through retirement, health care, and life and disability coverage. In fact, church plans and their predecessors have provided secure, stable retirement options for clergy and lay workers for approximately 300 years.

These programs evolved over the years to meet the changing needs of their workers. Over time they expanded into health and welfare benefits for both clergy and lay workers. Now, the collective power of these denominational plans maximizes resources and delivers benefits individual congregations couldn’t access alone.

Church benefits plans and their predecessors provide secure, stable retirement and health care options for clergy and lay workers that are consistent with the faith and values of their specific faith tradition. They have unique features that reflect the diversity of America’s religious denominations and the religious leaders who dedicate their lives to ministry, working to alleviate suffering and serve the greater good.

The difference between plans of Church Alliance members and Single Employer Church Plans

Single employer church plans, maintained by one affiliated organization, are distinct from church benefits plans administered by Church Alliance members.

Church Alliance members administer multiple-employer plans, often supporting an entire denomination on a national scale. A program managed by one central organization, serving multiple ministries, provides continuity and consistency of employee benefits for the many clergy who move from one church or synagogue to another or to church-related organizations within a denomination. This allows for portability, sometimes across state lines and provides “economies of scale” to ultimately lower costs for the participants.

Church Alliance members understand what matters to their denominations and craft solutions that address their needs

Denominations are organized in a variety of manners, sometimes including, but not limited to:
  • Hierarchical: A “parent” church organization sets the policy for the entire denomination.
  • Diocesan: A synodical or presbyterian structure in which policymaking is carried out on a local or regional level, through representatives drawn from the various church units.
  • Congregational: Autonomous churches, synagogues, or conventions or associations of churches, cooperate in a form of governance in which congregations and related ministry organizations are associated by voluntary and cooperative participation.
  • Some denominations have governance traditions that combine two or more of these organizational paradigms.
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