The part one and two of the “More than words” series expanded on a Facebook post by Rev. Zach Szmara, founder of Immigrant Connection. The post reflected on Wesleyans’ dedication to upholding with action the commitments we express in words.

In the first part, we explored Immigrant Connection and how it serves communities by living into a “radical gospel witness.” Part two tackled Hephzibah62:4 and its century of faithfulness in upholding the sanctity of life. Today, we will turn our attention toward the Wesleyan Pension Fund Inc (WPF) and all that it does for those who are working in ministry.


In 1968, the Pilgrim Holiness Church and the Wesleyan Methodist Church chose to merge, unifying under the name The Wesleyan Church (TWC). With the merger, they brought about some changes in the way the church functioned. They also worked to make sure their structure effectively served the mission to spread the hope and holiness of Christ.

Determined from the beginning to recognize the importance of supporting ministers as a part of the mission, Wesleyans took a major step that same year. On November 8, 1968, they established a pension fund to care for those who were caring for congregations.

Initially, the goal of WPF was to provide for the retirement of Wesleyan pastors. Over time, that intent broadened to include ministers and ministry employees, both clergy and laity, and extended beyond the Wesleyan denomination. Today, WPF serves over 5000 people. Their monthly informational email reaches around 4,000 individuals, including lead, assistant and associate pastors, ministry treasurers, district superintendents and their admins.

Director of Operations Debra Levite says the program has been “a very nice benefit for people.” The WPF plan follows section 403(b)(9) of the Internal Revenue code and lets participants enjoy tax savings, among other benefits. The employer is responsible for contributing the main part of the investment funds and WPF encourages employers to contribute an amount equal to 12% of the employee’s gross salary.

Employees can also choose to contribute additional funds as a pre-tax benefit through a salary reduction (an elected deferral), adding to the amount they invest. WPF offers several investment options as well as the freedom to change investments over time.

Debra emphasizes that WPF is designed to help people develop a retirement fund. Many requirements must be met for an individual to access their funds early. In general, the funds can be accessed upon reaching age 62, after which point there are several options for withdrawal of their funds.

Some of the most notable benefits to the WPF plan includes group life insurance and long-term disability insurance. Additionally, the housing allowance can be used by ordained or licensed clergy for any housing/property expenses without the federal or state taxes being withheld. This perk is incredibly helpful for pastors who spend most of their careers living in parsonages and may not have needed to purchase a home until they retired, although it can be used for more than mortgage expenses.

Debra says WPF’s wish is that “people will actually be encouraged and grateful” to have secure funds to support them once they retire. She adds they hope every ministry connected with TWC will take advantage of the benefits of a denominational plan. As one of the TWC’s steadiest ministries, WPF has spent decades quietly serving ministry employees who serve the rest of the Church, and they anticipate doing so for many years to come.

Jerah Winn is a communication assistant in the Communication and Administration Division of The Wesleyan Church and studies writing and honors humanities at Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Indiana.