Editor: This is not anonymous to me, but comes from a friend who shared the information with us. This information was given in a worldwide town hall meeting, so details can’t be completely private. My reaction is that this is VERY generous and whatever you think of the VRI, the IMB is demonstrating that it cares deeply about those who have served Southern Baptists.
IMB President David Platt addressed both field personnel and Richmond staff on Wednesday morning in order to present plans for the upcoming Voluntary Retirement Incentive (VRI). Richmond staff work under slightly different policies due to labor laws and such, so separate town hall meetings were held for each type of worker.
The upshot of it all is that the IMB has rolled out the basic framework under which the VRI will function for field folks. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on the program’s generosity and wisdom.
All missionaries who are at least 50 years of age and have 5 years of service will be eligible for some form of the VRI. Field workers must be active (not leave of absence) and career status to qualify.
The key to understanding the basics of the VRI lies in grasping four basic areas: Basic, Bonus, Additional, and Transition.
– Each retiring unit will receive a buyout for their earned, unused Stateside Assignment (STAS) time, with a cap of 14 months. Instead of taking your STAS time, you’ll receive the equivalent of a paycheck for that time and be done.
– Each unit will receive a retirement grant to be figured on a formula utilizing length of service as the key variable.
– Medical insurance will continue with the plan set out by www.onesureinsurance.co.uk for the unit and their dependent children for a set period.
Feedback from field units revealed two major concerns upon retirement: cash and medicine. Specifically, how could retiring workers make ends meet and see the doctor while searching for new jobs.
Therefore, the IMB has created a point system. Each retiring unit will receive 12 points to spend on either a monthly paycheck or on medical coverage. Units with more than 25 years of service will get an extra point.
One point = one month’s salary
One point = three months of medical coverage.
Divide it up as you will. Once you opt for cash, that’s the end of the line; you can never change your mind. If, however, you choose the insurance option, you will have an opportunity to revisit that decision in November 2016 and change your mind.
All MKs who would normally receive funds for college will continue to be eligible for those funds even if they have not reach university age. Workers with more than 20 years of experience will receive the full package for their kids. Those with less than 20 years will receive some prorated funds based on years of experience.
All retirees with 15 years of experience will move to Emeritus status. As well, everyone will receive help in figuring out their taxes for all of this for 2015 and 2016.
Everyone will receive paychecks through December 31. An additional 3 months of salary will be paid as assistance during the unemployed transition period. Everyone will have to buy a car, find a home, etc., and transition costs are prohibitive.
The organization as usual will pay to ship home a single container of goods, or will pay the approximate value of that container to the worker. This is fairly consistent with freighting policies: container or cash. Those who opt for the cash can try to ship home their belongings on the cheap and keep the funds, or just sell out and replace everything.
Next week those eligible workers will receive a personalized, tailored package that fits their specific situation. They can respond as early as September 21st with a clear yea/nay response. However, no responses are need until November 2. On that day, your “yes” will mean yes and your “no” will mean no. Once you say “No thanks,” the die is cast. No going back. However, if you accept the package, you will enter into the transition process.
In early December, those who accepted the deal will sign official letters. Despite that signature, everyone will have 7 additional days to back out, no questions asked. At that time, everyone who continues with their retirement plans will officially become “volunteers on the field” instead of IMB employees.
While the outline I’ve given here is light on specifics, rest assured that everyone will get a very precise, detailed explanation of their potential package.
A Few Thoughts and Notes
I know I said I would allow you to formulate your own opinions without outside influence, but I lied.
I think it’s generous.
No, it is not enough to cover the heartache of this decision. Nothing will be enough save the grace and strength of God. If He calls for this, then He will comfort. Even so, the IMB intends to honor its commitment to care for those who are stepping down voluntarily.
At the end of it all, Vice President Sebastian Traeger said (essentially), “Everyone is expected to leave the field by January 31. If you have platform you can turn into a job, or you just want to stay – no problem.” He went on to add that the IMB might even be able to help you find a house or car. Seems to me this is part of that missionary force that partners with the IMB but is not paid by them.
Something added in at the end, after all the bombshells, was that the IMB will change its retirement package for the future. It will not be as generous. Sounded to me as though that was one more incentive to retire now, but that’s just my view.
I’m begging you, folks, to do a few things here:
– Pray. This is not an easy decision for those who have poured themselves into their lives and roles on the field.
-Respect. Remember that those who take the money and run are not quitters; they have chosen this as the wisest route for them, personally. We don’t often challenge those who say, “God called me to missions!” so why be skeptical at those who claim God is calling them home?
-Remember. IMB leaders are no more enamored of cutting personnel than we are in being cut. As distasteful as this process can be, sometimes we have to trust that this is necessary.
Play nicely, guys.