Serving Retired Gospel Workers
The Evangelical Housing Association exists to provide ministry workers with a place to live in retirement. Phil Topham has been finding out more about this valuable charity.
Where will you live when you retire?
It’s a question that has particular relevance for pastors who live in a manse provided for them by the local church. In that scenario, a pastor coming up for retirement may not have a place to call home when he steps away from his ministry role.
That’s where the Evangelical Housing Association (EHA) comes in.
Founded by FIEC in 1974, EHA seeks to provide a place to live for retired ministry workers who don’t own their own property. They exist to offer housing exclusively for retired FIEC and Grace Baptist pastors, as well as missionaries who are members of, or largely supported by FIEC and Grace Baptist churches.
I attended the recent Board meeting of the EHA and it was great to learn about their heart to serve retiring gospel workers. It struck me that this ministry isn’t widely publicised, and it ought to be.
What is so encouraging about the work of EHA is that the needs of a retiring pastor (or ministry couple) are considered on a case by case basis. That means there’s not a list of properties to match people to, rather the EHA is presented with a need and then seeks to purchase a property to suit the individual. In practice, this means a retired pastor doesn’t necessarily need to move away from friends and family.
Colin Jones from Wem Baptist Church is approaching retirement. He and his wife Chris have been provided with an EHA house in Shropshire. Colin says this is wonderful provision for them:
“We’ve always lived in church manses, and the first three quarters of our ministry was on a low salary, so we have never been able to buy a house of our own,” he said. “But EHA has been so accommodating to us, providing a house with room for our family to visit as well as a study so that I can keep working in my retirement.
“The most attractive thing is the security it gives us. We know that EHA won’t force us to move out and we have a sympathetic landlord with security of tenure. You can never have that guarantee in the ordinary rental market.”
Currently there are more than 20 properties being managed by the EHA across Great Britain, serving those who wouldn’t have had that security in retirement. Tenants are charged a monthly rent which reflects the area they live in.
“We could never have afforded the rent where we lived previously in Crawley. But Wem has both a great local church and a place we have lots of friends. The fact that we could pick where we wanted to live was great.”
No doubt there are others would benefit from the ministry of the EHA. So, if you are coming up to retirement and currently live in rented accommodation or housing that’s linked to your ministry, it is well worth finding out how the Association might be able to serve you in retirement.