Easing the Golden Years for Retired Clergy

Easing the Golden Years for Retired Clergy

Raised in a Methodist family, James B. Duke was well aware of the sacrifices made by pastors who served poor rural areas and often faced retirement with very few accumulated financial resources. 

So in The Duke Endowment’s founding Indenture of Trust, he directed that it set aside part of its annual income to provide pensions for retired pastors who had served in North Carolina, and for spouses and children of deceased pastors. In 2009, that figure totaled more than $2 million, which was distributed by the offices of the bishops of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church

The need for such a program was eased when the church established a modern pension program of its own in 1982, but many pastors say the annual Endowment checks make a big financial difference. 

“These checks are much anticipated and much appreciated, and much needed for a variety of reasons,” said one pastor who retired in 2001 after 42 years in the ministry. 

Some retirees use funds from the Endowment to pay property taxes, utility bills or medical bills. One couple, for example, used the money to buy long-term care insurance. Another woman was using the funds to support her adult daughter, who lived in a home for the developmentally disabled. 

Not all retirees use the grant funds for essential expenses. Some pay for vacations, and some for continuing education programs. And because the checks are mailed in December, they brighten the Christmas holidays for many. 

“You can’t say all the ways this makes a difference in people’s lives,” says one pastor, “but the North Carolina conferences are fortunate to have this. Mr. Duke did a wonderful thing.” 

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Robert R. Webb III
Director of Rural Church



Area of Work

  • Clergy leadership

Program Area

  • Rural Church

Areas of Work

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  • Rural church development

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  • Clergy leadership

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  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities

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