By Rev. Dr. Richard W. Brandon
The Rev. Dr. Richard W. Brandon of Wildwood, Missouri, a member of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Chesterfield, Missouri, has served as an Annuitant Visitor for four years on behalf of the Pension Boards. He shares about one special visit with a widow named “Emma” (not her real name).
Emma is the widow of a second-career pastor in the United Church of Christ (UCC). She lost her husband “Elmer” several years ago. He had faithfully served relatively small congregations in rural and small town communities. On our way to visit with Emma, my wife Ellen and I admired the scenery along the winding roads in southeast Missouri. When we arrived at Emma’s home, we were impressed by her modest and attractive cottage, surrounded by well-tended flower gardens.
Emma has terminal cancer. She is very much aware of her condition and talks freely about it. She has a sunny disposition that cannot be eclipsed.
“How do they do it?”
We had a wonderful and enjoyable visit, filled with much laughter, as Emma recalled the churches that she and Elmer had served. On behalf of the Pension Boards, I thanked her for her many years of service and asked if she had any questions about the health or pension plans. She became very serious, grew quite stern, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You better believe it. I sure do!” All I could think was, “Dear God, give me the words and wisdom to answer this one.” Then she said, “How do they do it?” I said, “Do what?” Then she went through a list of her hospital confinements, many treatments, and astronomical bills sent from the doctors and hospitals. “And only this,” she said, “is the small amount I had to pay. How do they do it?”
Having breathed a sigh of relief, I said, “The Pension Boards considers your well-being and that of all our Annuitants to be their ultimate responsibility, and they take that responsibility very seriously. It is one of the ways they can thank you and others for your many years of service.” She said, “Then, you thank them for me. Will you do that?” I said, “Emma, I sure will.”
Emma is an example of the quality and character of the people we have the opportunity to serve in the UCC. As I visit with our Annuitants, most of them express their gratitude just like Emma. They are thankful for the excellent manner in which the Pension Boards manages their annuity and health plans. Many have said they feel more financially secure than they did when they were actively involved in ministry. We have been richly blessed with a wonderful privilege to serve as Annuitant Visitors.
The Annuitant Visitor Program
The Annuitant Visitor Program, administered by the United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance (UCBMA), seeks to provide an annual visit to over 6,000 retired clergy, missionaries, and their spouses/partners in the United Church of Christ. Through these visits, Annuitant Visitors serve as ambassadors for the Pension Boards’ benefits, communicate appreciation for a lifetime of dedicated service, and offer collegial support. For more information about the Annuitant Visitor Program, visit: http://bit.ly/PB_AVP_INFO.
By Rev. Dr. Richard W. Brandon