Contemplating and preparing for retirement is a challenging process for most people and it is particularly so for clergy and their families, where in most cases their home, as well as many of their friendships and their support networks, are tied up with their role. Because of the housing and financial implications, it is important for the planning of retirement to begin at least 5 years before the anticipated date. While some of this may not be true for Self Supporting Ministers, there is still much to reflect on and to do in preparation for retirement.
Work Out Your Retirement Plan
It is important to make proper preparation for retirement and to put plans in place in good time. This will need to address several issues which are touched on below. We cannot assume everything will simply fall into place, we need to make prayerful and careful plans for retirement.
Single clergy need to give plenty of consideration to what support networks they will need both practically and emotionally at the point of retiring and beyond, and take into account that they may well find their relationship to fellow clergy still in post will be somewhat different. If moving to another diocese bear in mind that initially you will not be known by a network of parishes, so if you wish to exercise a wider ministry in deanery or diocese plan how to make yourself known.
Moving house can be quite a challenging process and the last days in post will be very busy, so allow more time than you think and get plenty of help with tasks such as packing, clearing and cleaning.
Those who are married or in a civil partnership need to be aware their spouse of civil partner will have their own views about your retirement and their own! You need to discuss these together in good time including whether you will both retire at the same time or not. You may both have dreams and expectations about retirement and these should be explored together to help towards a happy and fulfilled retirement.
How Will Your Housing and Financial Needs be Met?
There are many factors to consider about housing and finance. If you own a house which has been let you will need to be aware of tax implications, and make sure that a Principle Place of Residence (PPR) election is in place at your retirement date. If you do not own a house you may wish to contact the Church of England's retirement housing team. In any case you should seek appropriate professional advice if necessary.
The Church of England produces a helpful booklet Planning for Retirement which focuses on these issues. It is available here.
Discussing Your Plans with the Diocese
It is helpful both for you and the Diocese to let them know your thinking at an early stage, this does not commit you to anything. A discussion with the Archdeacon Pastor would help you in your thinking and she would be able to talk through all the support the Diocese is able to give as you prepare for retirement, such as a Pre-Retirement Retreat.
How Will You Continue Your Vocation?
Retiring does not mean we are no longer called by God to serve. Thinking through how you would like to continue in ministry, whilst you are still in post, will help you manage the process of retirement and welcome the opportunities it provides. More information on ministry in retirement is available here.