Types of Participation
There are two types of participation in the Clergy Pension Plan: mandatory and optional.
If (1) you are a deacon, priest, or bishop who is canonically resident in any diocese of the Episcopal Church, (2) your employer is subject to the authority of the Church (or is associated with the Church and has elected to participate in the Clergy Pension Plan), and (3) your employer is located in a domestic diocese of the Church, you must participate in the Clergy Pension Plan if you are:
- Expected to be regularly employed (as explained below) for five or more consecutive months by the same employer; and
- Compensated by your employer.
You will be treated as regularly employed if you meet one of the following requirements:
- You have a letter of agreement (or other contract of employment) with your employer
- You are duly called to your position by your bishop, vestry, or rector
- Your position has a formal title (for example, rector or priest-in-charge) indicating an ongoing substantial relationship with your employer;
- Your employer issues you a Form W-2 (or equivalent)
- You are scheduled to work at least 20 hours per week
Please Note: If you are expected to be employed for less than five consecutive months, but actually work for five or more consecutive months, your participation in the Clergy Pension Plan will be mandatory retroactive to your date of hire. Please see When Participation Begins for additional details. Please report any changes to your employment status to our Client Services group.
If you are a member of a religious order, you cannot participate in the Clergy Pension Plan unless and until your order elects to participate and has all of its eligible clergy members enrolled in the Clergy Pension Plan. In addition, your order must agree to pay Assessments on behalf of all eligible clergy members. Assessments are based on each member’s Total Assessable Compensation. Please see Cost of Coverage for details on Assessments.
Two-Clergy Families: If both you and your spouse are ordained, each of you will participate in the Clergy Pension Plan independently and will receive benefits based on your own service to the Church.
There are three types of optional participation:
If You Are Expected to Work Less Than Five Consecutive Months
If you would otherwise meet the criteria for mandatory participation except that you are expected to be employed for less than five consecutive months, you and your employer may choose to participate in the Clergy Pension Plan if you have a letter of agreement (or other contract of employment) that provides for the payment of Assessments on your behalf by your employer.
Extension of Ministry
If you are employed by a non-Episcopal organization, or any society, organization, or body associated with the Episcopal Church that has not elected to participate in the Clergy Pension Plan, you may choose to participate in the Clergy Pension Plan through an Extension of Ministry. To qualify, you must be exercising active ordained ministry in pastoral, educational, or social work that will advance the mission of the Episcopal Church and that will not violate the Constitution and Canons. Please refer to the Extension of Ministry application for more information.
If CPF approves your Extension of Ministry application, it will be for up to two years. For another extension beyond the two years, you must submit a renewal request to CPF (at the Client Services address). This request should be completed at least 60 days prior to the expiration of the approved period. There is no limit on the number of renewals that may be granted.
Keep in mind that full Assessments must be paid to CPF to earn Credited Service under the Clergy Pension Plan for your Extension of Ministry, and CPF maintains the right to request supporting documentation.
CPF has special agreements with the Bishop Suffragan of the Office of Armed Services and Federal Ministries covering Episcopal clergy who:
- Serve as full-time chaplains in the Armed Forces of the United States, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons; or
- Serve as Reserve and National Guard members who are called to active military duty and, as a consequence, must leave their employment in the Church in order to serve. In certain cases, continued participation in the Clergy Pension Plan is legally required.
For details about these agreements, please contact our Client Services group.
When Enrollment Begins (and Ends)
Your enrollment in the Clergy Pension Plan will begin on the first day of the month coinciding with or immediately following your date of hire once your employer pays the first Assessment payment on your behalf. For example, if your employment begins on March 15, 2018, your enrollment in the Clergy Pension Plan will begin on April 1, 2018, but only after your employer pays the full Assessment due for April.
Your enrollment in the Clergy Pension Plan will end on the last day of the month in which your employment ends. For example, if your last day of work is October 15, 2020, your enrollment in the Clergy Pension Plan will end as of October 31, 2020, and your employer must pay the full Assessment due for October. (Note, however, that your employer may report a compensation change for your last month of employment and prorate your compensation for the days that you actually worked in that last month. CPF will not automatically prorate your compensation (and the related Assessment) for your last month of employment.)