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Termination of Retirement Benefits

Court rules that retired pastor can sue his former church for breaching its promise to pay him in retirement.

Key point: A church's promise to pay a retiring pastor a portion of his former salary for the rest of his life may be legally enforceable.

• An Ohio appeals court ruled that a retired pastor could sue his former church for breaching its promise to pay him one-third of his former salary for the remainder of his life. The retired pastor had become the pastor of a local Baptist church in 1958. In 1971 he suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. While he was recuperating, a church deacon told him that the church had voted to pay his full salary for the remainder of his lifetime. That promise was never fulfilled because the pastor later recovered and resumed his pastoral duties. In 1980, the pastor again experienced heart problems. Under the advice of his doctor, he approached the deacons of the church about his retirement. He proposed that his salary be reduced after retirement ...

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Posted:
  • May 2, 1994