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Real Retirement Stories

The Rev. Mark Bigley

Retired – Ringgold, Georgia

Mark Bigley"I feel better about where our money is. I feel better with Church Life watching it."

I’ve been a priest for 33 years. I retired last May, but I do part-time interim work, and work full-time as a clinical social worker.

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I chose Church Life for my IRA rollover because it’s a matter of trust. I’ve dealt with Kevin Caruso for 10 years and I’ve grown to trust him. He’s authentic. The Church is a family. Families do a lot to support each other, and I think that’s The Church Pension Fund’s bottom line too. I feel that coming from Kevin. Whenever I call Church Life, I’m treated like the baptismal covenant teaches.

I opened a Church Life traditional IRA and rolled over money from another company. Why? Church Life really cares about the people they serve, far more than banks and investment firms in my experience. The rates were better, too. My wife did the same thing with her investments, and for the same reasons. With Church Life IRAs, I feel better about where our money is. I feel better with Church Life watching it, because it’ll probably be safer with them than anybody else.


The Rev. Gordon Dean

Retired – Shelburne Falls, MA

Gordon Dean"I believe in The Church Pension Fund and its companies. They've always been trustworthy and secure."

You know, the word "credit" comes from the word "credo" – "belief." We are in a credit crisis right now, which is really a crisis of trust. And I want my money invested in an institution I trust.

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I was ordained a priest in 1961, but before that, I was a professional church musician. And I've been doing both for years, until I retired in 2002.

Why do I have a Church Life annuity? Because I believe in The Church Pension Fund and its companies. They've always been trustworthy and secure. I trust the investment policies. I've been with them for so long.

The worst thing I ever did was a few years ago when my various annuity policies matured and I had the choice of moving my money within Church Life or investing it elsewhere. I chose the latter, and I was really sorry I did. As soon as that policy matured, I rolled it over into the Church Life annuity I have now.

Having my money with Church Life makes me feel so much better. I know I can trust them to be there for me, and that my money is safe. And when I get my quarterly statements from Church Life, the total just keeps going up. Who wouldn't be pleased with that?


The Rev. Edward Tracy

Active – Ashland, Virginia

Edward Tracy"It seemed to me that a Roth IRA was one of those important retirement ingredients. I feel a little more secure about retirement now."

Like many people, I entered the ministry late, without any retirement benefits, and we sold everything including our house to pay for seminary. So we’re starting from nothing.

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I went to Virginia Seminary, and after ordination I served in Buffalo, then in a parish in Southside Virginia, and now I'm in a small town just north of Richmond.

When I reached the point where we actually had some money to put into retirement, I remembered some mailings I'd gotten from Church Life. So I called and talked to Grace Longo to get an overall view of how I should be investing money for retirement.

She's the first person, in or out of the Church, who explained it in a way that I could get my head around it. It was wonderful.

Grace talked about approaching retirement planning like assembling the ingredients for a dish, and it seemed to me that a Roth IRA was one of those retirement ingredients. So I decided to purchase one from Church Life.

I feel a little more secure about retirement now. And I know I have Grace there to talk to.


The Rev. Jennie Gould

Active – Watertown, MA

Jennie Gould"Grace was very patient and explained and explained so that I could choose the right thing for me."

After seminary, I did my Ph. D. in pastoral psychology and then moved into healthcare chaplaincy. I teach at Boston University Medical School, taught at Harvard Divinity School, and provide supply work for clergy in the diocese.

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I’m a frugal person, so when I had a little extra money, I remembered the Planning For Tomorrow conference I’d attended. They showed a pie chart of all the ways you could supplement your retirement, and the IRA piece was empty for me.

I spoke with Grace Longo, and she explained the difference between a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA. She was very patient and really took her time. She explained and explained so that I could choose the right thing for me. It was so helpful.

I chose a Roth IRA – because with that, I’ve already paid taxes on the money I put in, which is wonderful.

Some days, I think I’ll never be able to afford to retire, but then I think if I just keep plugging away and keep investing what I can, my chances of retiring might be better. I feel like I’m doing my part.


Nancy Simons

Surviving Spouse – Pittsboro, North Carolina

Nancy Simons"My Church Life annuity gives me another cushion. And that makes me feel more secure."

My husband John died about 15 months ago. We were married over 55 years ago, just before he went to seminary. In addition to serving in three parishes, he was also chaplain with the National Guard and served in England, too. We had a good life together.

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John came from a big family. Two of his brothers and a brother-in-law were also priests. When people congratulated his mother on having so many sons in the ministry, she always said, “All my children are ministers, but these four happen to be ordained.”

John and I each had an IRA with Church Life. I still have mine. When John died, Kevin Caruso suggested I switch the money into an annuity, which would give me interest.

I put John’s life insurance money into an Interest Accumulation Fund*. I feel more secure knowing I have these two cushions.

*An option for receiving benefits in which funds are placed in an interest-bearing account. The account’s owner may withdraw funds at any time. The current rate is 2.25% (subject to change).


The Rev. Roy Walworth

Retired – Evanston, WY

Roy Walworth"The character of CPG and its reputation was a major factor in my choosing a Church Life annuity."

I came to Wyoming in 1983 as a lay missioner on an Indian reservation, went to seminary in Canada, came back and became a ministry developer, helping them to be the congregations God is calling them to be in that particular place. That’s where my passion lies. I retired a year ago last January.

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My wife still works as a psychiatric nurse supervisor. I basically grew up poor without hardly any excess. I feel so fortunate that I can give back. I went to CREDO in 2003, and my individual discussion with a financial advisor there got me thinking about my retirement. I have a friend who had an annuity with Church Life, so I thought I should check that out. I went to the CPF website and got some information, but most of it came from a one-on-one discussion with Grace Longo. She was able to provide specific information and run the numbers and give me something concrete to work with. As a result, I made a plan to put a set amount a year into a Church Life annuity for 5 years and then decide when I want to turn that into an income chain. Certainly, the character of CPG and its reputation was a major factor in my choosing a Church Life annuity. The people I’ve talked with there have been very qualified and very competent and helpful. It’s a solid organization I can trust.”


Frederick Burgomaster

Retired Lay Employee – Indianapolis, IN

Frederick Burgomaster"I wanted a guarantee that my retirement savings would be there for me."

My father was a priest, and I went to Union Theological Seminary for church music. I was music director at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis for over 30 years, having come there from St Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo, and I decided it was time to retire.

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So I went to the Church Pension Group website and saw that there were a number of different options offered, including annuities. I called Grace Longo to get some advice, and as we talked, it appeared that the Stable Value Option might be good for me. It guaranteed that my retirement savings would be there for me to access if I wanted to, and with the stock market pretty iffy, a 4%* return looked good.

Now I’m getting a monthly income stream from the Stable Value and that, with the other investments I have, seems to be working out very well.

*The Stable Value Option currently pays an interest rate of 2.50%.

These articles were published with the authors’ permission.

1Guarantees and obligations under the group annuity contract are solely those of Church Life Insurance Corporation (Church Life) and are subject to the claims-paying ability of Church Life. The Church Pension Fund does not guarantee the financial performance of Church Life or any principal or interest invested in the Stable Value Option. To learn more about the financial condition of Church Life, review the summary of Church Life’s financial condition described in the Church Pension Group’s most recent Annual Report or call (866) 802-6333 for additional information relating to the financial condition of Church Life, for a copy of the Church Pension Group’s Annual Report or for a copy of Church Life’s statutory financial statements.


Annuities are offered by Church Life Insurance Corporation, 19 East 34th Street, New York, NY 10016.

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