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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Market downturn leads to pension changes

The ELCA bridge and annuity fund administered by the ELCA Board of Pensions was closed to new entrants on April 3. From April to June, the pension board sent letters to some 35,000 active and retired plan members informing them of the closure. It told those who had converted part or all of their retirement account into a lifetime monthly annuity that their monthly payments could decrease.

ELCA retirement funds haven’t been immune to the global economic downturn, and the board’s actions came after market losses decreased the value of the bridge and annuity fund. In the letters to plan members, ELCA Board of Pensions President John G. Kapanke said the combined estimated loss to U.S. pension and retirement accounts is in the trillions.

“You should know that in the face of [global economic] uncertainties, we are working to ensure the long-term viability of the ELCA Retirement Plan,” he wrote. “We believe diversified, disciplined strategies that are focused on investment fundamentals continue to work over most long periods.”


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