Retirement planning seminar centers care for clergy

April 27, 2023 | by JB Brayfindley

Retirement planning seminar centers care for clergy

MPP, UMPIP and CRSP are acronyms clergy and their spouses became familiar with during the 2023 Pre-Retirement Planning Seminar held at the UMC Conference Center in Sacramento April 25-26. The event was primarily for pension participants who will be retiring this year and in the next five to ten years. More than 45 attended traveling from the Bay Area to as far east as Gardnerville, Nevada.

Paul Extrum-Fernandez, Chief Benefits Officer for the Board of Pensions, led the event. Shari Sandoval, Enrollment Manager, greeted participants with a name badge, small gift bag, and pocket folder with an agenda, informative brochures and papers including a personalize service record and retirement benefits projection statement.

The theme for the event was planning for retirement. Although informative, according to Wespath’s Frank O’Brien, the breadth of data flowing over the two days was “like a firehose” and tends to overwhelm those not familiar with the terms, procedures and concepts. The first day included overviewing Health Insurance options and Clergy taxes with Extrum-Fernandez; Long-term Care Options with Jim Maher and Katie Burns; and UMC Retirement Procedures including pension, personal investment and protection plans with Wespath’s Frank O’Brien and Manuel Vargas. (See speaker biographies at the end of this article)

“Keep asking questions. Keep calm and carry on…” encouraged Extrum-Fernandez at the end of the first day.

Retired Rev. Jeff Kunkel led a Retiree Forum with retired deacon Rev. Diana Bohn, retired Rev. Dr. Hubert Ivery and Rev. Marty Murdock. “Retirement for each person can be very different,” summed by Kunkel. Ivery was surprised that “you don’t realize how much energy you are expending [before retirement], take time for you body to repair.” Bohn notes, “I prepared myself to be lost …and that is a good thing! Be gentle with yourself.”

Day two began with Michael Teixeira from Social Security explaining benefits, enrollment and procedures. John Garrison from EY Financial shared details on financial wellness and the free tools and resources for clergy before and after retirement including online templates, adjustable calculation diagrams as well as EY Navigate Planner Line at 1-800-360-2539, a free confidential and unbiased financial guidance service. EY Navigate Digital at https://wespath, has articles, calculators, templates and other tools. Clergy can sign up to access to online live and recorded webinars. Garrison also reviewed estate planning information. Wespath benefits and Investments are at and benefit access is at Wespath call center is accessible at 1-800-851-2201.

For all clergy, a special no-cost “Live from Wespath: A Virtual Clergy Event” is slated for Wednesday, May 17 at 11:00 PST. Register at

Guest speakers included:

  • Jim Maher, McGrew & Maher, a Certified Senior Advisor®, Medicare Specialist, Certified Long-Term Strategist, CLTC®. Maher is AHIP Medicare Certified and has worked nationwide as a Consultant/Broker since 1989.
  • Katie Burris, McGrew & Maher, a Certified in Long-Term Care, CLTC®. Burris is AHIP Medicare certified.
  • Frank O’Brien, Sr. Benefits Educator, Wespath since 2019, holds designation of ISCEBS-Fellow through the International Certified Employee Benefits Specialist, has been in retirement financial services industry his entire career, spent time as a licensed financial advisor and worked in another church pension board for many years. He has a broad range of experience and knowledge in employee benefits and retirement plan services.
  • Manuel Vargas, Client Relationship Manager, Wespath for 30 years manages the overall relationship with organizations like CNUMC participating in the benefit programs administered by Wespath. Manuel consults in benefit planning and design conducts educational seminars and assists plan sponsors and compliance matters.
  • Michael Teixeira, Public Affairs Specialist, Social Security Administration in the Sierra West area and recently promoted with the privilege of mentoring several individuals. His primary area is in education and outreach.
  • John Garrison, EY Financial Services since 2016 with ten years of experience delivering live seminar workshops and webinars from retirement planning to benefits and other topics. His previous experience was in a Fortune 150 company for over 25 years in Human Resources.

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JB Brayfindley is a freelance journalist.