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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Benefits Society called ministrycomment (0)

January 3, 2002

By Amista Rowell McMath


The Alabama Baptist Benefits Society was created in 1904 to help rural and bi-vocational pastors, but it now helps Alabamians involved in different aspects of ministry.

Paul Moore, director of the society and long-time board member, said the organization is not an insurance company.

“This is a ministry,” said Moore.

Moore said the society is a ministry because it assists spouses of pastors, church staff members, association staff members and State Board of Missions employees upon members’ deaths.

The ministry began when a group of ministers formed the society to help widows of fellow pastors with burial expenses. The group, then known as The Alabama Baptist Ministerial Benefits Society, was established at a time when payment for a pastor’s burial often required community offerings and many pastors’ widows were too poor to afford burial costs.

“A person who had been serving the Lord all those years should be buried properly,” Moore said.

Moore said many bi-vocational pastors received groceries or services in exchange for their work in the church when the society was founded. If they earned a salary, it was usually a petty one, and as a result, their widows were left penniless when the pastors died.

The society evolved into a statewide organization, and throughout the 97 years of its existence, it has paid more than 1,300 claims to beneficiaries. Beneficiaries of deceased members receive a check for $2,100 with a card noting the 2,100 fellow ministers desire to honor their loved one’s memory with the money.

“Instead of flowers, we send dollars,” Moore said, adding that the money is given to pay homage to the life and ministry of the deceased. “For some of them, it is the only money they have to bury their loved ones,” he said.

There is a small annual membership fee that Moore said covers printing, postage, phone calls and other expenses.

The only group prohibited from joining is people over age 60. Moore said it would be unfair for an older person to join and pay for a shorter time than others before his or her beneficiary collected.

Moore said he sends out three mailings a year.  Each mailing contains a list of the names of 15 members who have passed away. The society requests that living members remit a designated amount for the 15 deceased, in addition to their annual membership fees.

Once a member has served in Alabama and joined the society, he or she can remain a member until death.

Moore said the society has members from across Alabama, the United States and several foreign countries.

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