BBT Protests Wells Fargo Effort to Contact Pension Plan Members and Congregations

Church of the Brethren Newsline
Nov. 4, 2009

It has been brought to the attention of staff at Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) that some individual Pension Plan members, as well as churches in the denomination, are being contacted by representatives of Wells Fargo Advisors concerning pensions and retirement. The Wells Fargo Advisors representatives make reference to the BBT website and imply that there are serious issues with the Brethren Pension Plan and that members should be concerned about their investments.

BBT emphasizes that these Wells Fargo Advisors officers are in no way connected to the Brethren Benefit Trust, the Brethren Pension Plan, or the Church of the Brethren denomination. They do not have a thorough understanding of the Brethren Pension Plan, but are clearly trying to undermine the Brethren Pension Plan for their personal benefit.

The Brethren Pension Plan remains a reliable, safe investment for church workers, pastors, district staff, staff of denominational agencies, and employees of retirement communities who are looking for security in retirement. Investing of the funds under BBT’s management is performed by eight national managers who are reviewed quarterly, and the funds are well diversified in market sectors. Although the Pension Plan has recently experienced the first decrease in its annuity assumption rate in its history, it continues to rank highly when compared with similar pension plans.

In the spirit of Matthew 18, BBT is sending a letter to the two representatives who are generating the letters from Wells Fargo Advisors, asking them to cease their attacks on the BBT program and to offer an apology to those whom they have contacted. BBT hopes this will resolve the problem, but if not, will pursue other avenues to protect its members and the Brethren Pension Plan.

Since 1943, plan members have looked toward their retirement with a sense of security, trusting that the Brethren Pension Plan would be there for them for the remainder of their lives. BBT takes that responsibility very seriously and intends to live up to those expectations. For questions or concerns about the Brethren Pension Plan, contact Pension Plan director Scott Douglas at 800-746-1505.

— Patrice Nightingale is director of communications for Brethren Benefit Trust.

The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contact to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

Brethren in the News

Obituary: Carol R. Cobb, News Leader, Staunton, Va. (Nov. 3, 2009). Carol Darlene Ruleman Cobb, 61, died on Oct. 31. She was a member of Mount Bethel Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va. She worked side-by-side with her husband on their farm, Red Holstein Dairy, and had served as secretary/treasurer for the Southeast Red and White Dairy Cattle Association for over 20 years. Her husband, Lester “Buck” Howard Cobb Jr., survives. They had just celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.

Obituary: Ann M. Wright, News Leader, Staunton, Va. (Oct. 31, 2009). Anna Mary Madeira Wright, 80, died on Oct. 28 at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, Va. She is a former member of Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren for many years, and recently a member of Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren. She graduated from Bridgewater College with a degree in music in 1965 and taught music at Beverly Manor Schools from 1965-89. She served as church organist for various local churches.

Obituary: Ruth H. Swecker, News Leader, Staunton, Va. (Oct. 29, 2009). Ruth Halterman Swecker, formerly of Harrisonburg, Va., died on Oct. 28 in Lancaster, Pa. She was a member of Harrisonburg First Church of the Brethren. She was preceded in death by two siblings, and two husbands, Titus Halterman and Earl Swecker. Memorial gifts are being received for the Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries.

“Peace museum angling for Obama’s peace prize money,” Associated Press (Oct. 27, 2009). A fledging peace museum founded by Church of the Brethren members Christine and Ralph Dull, longtime peace activists who live in the area of Dayton, Ohio, is hoping its mission is just what President Barack Obama is looking for when he decides what to do with the $1.4 million cash award that comes with his Nobel Peace Prize, according to this AP report. Volunteers and supporters of the Dayton International Peace Museum are writing letters to Obama in hopes of swaying him to make a donation.

“A Veteran’s Story: Mervin DeLong objected, but served his country,” Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal (Oct. 26, 2009). For Mervin DeLong, the Lord’s commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” was the final word. DeLong’s stubborn defense of his status as a conscientious objector kept him out of the infantry during World War II. Instead, he became a medic and worked in a military hospital in Guam. He turned from killing to healing. A week away from his 90th birthday, DeLong will be honored by friends and fellow members of the First Church of the Brethren in Mansfield, Ohio.

“Potluck of locally grown foods is tonight,” Palladium-Item, Richmond, Ind. (Oct. 25, 2009). Church of the Brethren member Anna Lisa Gross, who is a student at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., is coordinating “100-mile Radius Potlucks.” The potluck events have been taking place every month since July 2008. “The potlucks began as a way to celebrate local food and educate people about our local ecosystem,” she told the newspaper.

“Kids learn art of Taiko drumming,” News Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind. (Oct. 24, 2009). Taiko drumming is one of the classes taught at the Blue Jean Diner program at Lincolnshire Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind. The Blue Jean Diner is a supervised, free program held each Monday and Wednesday for children in kindergarten through grade 6. During the meetings, the children receive help from volunteers with homework, play sports, and eat a hot meal.

“Four Mile celebrates 200 years,” Palladium-Item, Richmond, Ind. (Oct. 23, 2009). For 200 years, sermons have been preached at the Four Mile Church of the Brethren. It is the oldest Brethren church in Indiana. On Oct. 24-25, that tradition continued in commemoration of the church’s bicentennial. Clyde Hylton, who retired as pastor in 2004, gave the sermon during the service Sunday with special music by the youth and by the Faithful Sons, followed by a carry-in dinner.

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