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ELCA annuity plan members sue BOP

Two former ELCA pastors and two retired ELCA pastors filed a lawsuit in a Minnesota state court Dec. 3 seeking a class action against the ELCA Board of Pensions and the ELCA.

In the lawsuit, Ronald A. Lundeen, Larry D. Cartford, Benjamin A. Johnson and Arthur F. Haimerl allege that plan members' annuity payments were reduced in 2010, "followed by additional decreases," despite "unequivocal promises" that "annuity payments were guaranteed for life and also that increases in these guaranteed lifetime annuity payments would be permanent."

In 2010, as part of a three-year plan, the board reduced annuity payments after fund losses due to the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009. In a statement, the pension board said it "has been fully transparent with its plan members concerning our stewardship of the fund, which must return to fully funded status for members to continue to realize payments during their lifetimes."

The ELCA churchwide organization, a separate corporation from the Board of Pensions, has denied the allegations in the lawsuit, stating that "the ELCA remains concerned about the retirees" and everyone "adversely affected" by the economy.


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