I am running for re-election to the Church Pension Group Board. This would be my second and final six year term, now five I believe! I am not much of a campaigner, and truth be told, really don’t like to do it. However, I also believe you deserve to know my thoughts on this position and why I aspire to continue in it.
First, I have to tell you, before being on this Board I was one of those who you might hear say something like, “Let’s look to the Church Pension Group, that is where all the money is!” Or “Church Pension Group has more money than God, so let’s ask them!” I admit it. I was there. At the same time I had great admiration for CPG and even more gratitude for the service and comfort it provides for those who are fortunate enough to be part of it. So, I offered myself for service and I was elected. I can say after the service of these last six plus years I no longer can, or will, make the statements above because I no longer believe them. Further, I now have far more knowledge to base my beliefs on. I would now say, CPG has ENOUGH money.Enough money to cover the promises it has made. It does not have too much money, but enough.
I will say, honestly, I am a voice on the Board that tries to remind our members, and our Church, that the Church Pension Group was set up initially to do one thing: provide a pension for those who are part of it. It became, in the years that followed, a vessel for many other aspects of the church, some of it wholly appropriate, and I would argue some not so much. But, one thing I am now very confident of is that it does this one thing the Church called on it to do, very well. I want to continue that.
On the Board I have been blessed to be part of the Benefits Policy Committee and I am most proud of the changes that committee recommended and that were passed, all of which were changes designed to make access easier and to include many more people, with more possibility for benefit. Those changes have been in place now for several years and they have made a way for vocational deacons to be a part of the plan, those who are locally ordained, bi-vocational clergy, and many others. We also made a change to the HAC (highest average compensation) so it is based on months rather than years and portions of years in order to be more relevant for a career average compensation.
One thing many do not understand is that the gap between what the 18% assessment brings in, and what has to go out to keep even our current promises is wide and getting wider by the year. That gap can only be made up by solid investments and solid performance from those investments. I have served also on the Investment Committee and I can speak with complete confidence that we have some of the most professional and most competent people overseeing just that challenge.
Church Pension Fund ultimately exists to secure some comfort in retirement for those who have so willingly, and often at great sacrifice, served the Church. I have worked in this position to keep that strong and thriving. I would like to do so, on your behalf, and on behalf of all those who will one day benefit from our work. I ask for your vote for Church Pension Group Board.
The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel
VIII Bishop of Olympia
The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel is the VIII Bishop of Olympia, the Episcopal Church in Western Washington State. He has been the bishop here since September, 2007.