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Article

FCMM Through the Years

Authored by: Rev. Jerry Rich, Director of Benefits & Technology
Date: April 26, 2013
The number of EFCA congregations participating in FCMM continues to grow.

FCMM, the Free Church Ministers’ and Missionaries’ retirement plan, was formed in 1971 to provide an improved source of retirement income to the pastors and missionaries of the EFCA. FCMM operated a defined benefit Pension Plan based on compensation credits and annuitization (regular periodic payments) at retirement. Up to 30% of a church’s contributions could be invested in a stock portfolio that did not require annuitization.

By 1993, the paper-record based system was replaced by a data system and FCMM contracted with a professional financial adviser to implement an asset-allocation model for investments. Over the next few years, the system was further strengthened through actuarial studies and more straightforward benefit calculations.

Major enhancements in 2002 included expansion to cover all church staff and the employment of Ross Morrison as part-time FCMM Plan Administrator.

It became apparent in the market downturn of the early 2000s that the inflexible economic assumptions of the plan were not suited for recessionary trends. The Pension Plan was effectively frozen at the end of 2003 (closed to new contributions but continuing to operate for current participants). This legacy plan became labeled “Program A.”

A more flexible defined contribution Retirement Account Plan was added to replace “A” as the current program. The new “Program C” featured a similar long-term strategy. Additionally, new stock and fixed income portfolios were developed to allow individual salary deferral contributions for the first time. This also provided opportunity for churches to structure matching contributions.

By 2008, FCMM had restructured programs to be in full compliance with new IRS 403(b)(9) church plan regulations. Access to mutual funds (American Funds and Vanguard) was added for further flexibility. In 2010, one more option was added to permit participant investment in an Adjustable Rate Investment through Christian Investors Financial, the EFCA church loan program. All of the investment funds are now referred to as “options.”

2010 also marked the full-time engagement of the Plan Administrator and other FCMM staff for the purpose of continuing to develop and administer the retirement plan.

The number of participating EFCA congregations continues to grow. Two-thirds of churches with attendance of 650 or more use FCMM as their retirement plan.

At present, FCMM offers a broad range of investment options to participants. Whether a participant prefers to manage his or her investments or to let others manage them, FCMM has choices that can work with any retirement investment strategy. The current investment options of our active Retirement Account Plan include:

FCMM Managed Funds

  • Conservative Growth with Annuity Benefit Fund (Option C)
  • Moderate Growth Stock Fund (Option B/D)
  • Diversified Bond Fund (Option E)
  • Adjustable Rate Investment (Option H) through Christian Investors Financial (CIF)

Self-Directed Mutual Funds

  • American Funds (Option F)
  • Vanguard Funds (Option G)

What about the legacy “Option A” Pension Plan? FCMM continues to manage that plan and provides annuities for those who enter retirement. The trustees take seriously their fiduciary responsibility to provide maximum benefits and to protect the plan’s viability.