I grew up watching Gilligan’s Island and That Girl. Whatever. Because of my gender, I couldn’t wear pants to class until high school except on “Pants Day.” That doesn’t really matter now. Yes, those my age and older remember when JFK, MLK, and RFK died, but that doesn’t mean we are uniquely wounded or particularly inspired compared to other generations.
According to generational studies, I am in Cohort 2 of the Boomers – “Generation Jones.” More Watergate and Live Aid than Cuban Missile Crisis and Woodstock. But I believe every generation has their comparable touchstones.
So here’s my beef: I’m getting kind of sick of Baby Boomers – at least the ones of us who believe we are all that. It hit me yesterday when I came across this article: In Travel, We’re All Boomers. Really? Like we invented flexible travel and nice beds. As if people under 45 don’t ever trek off the beaten path.
Then I find out that the NY Times actually has a regular section for Boomers with articles about gray hair and increased urination and how hard this economy is especially for my generation. Ugh.
As the mom of three Millennials, I’ve watched their generation’s particular life markers and cultural highlights up close. And their elders in Gen X have made breathtaking contributions to civilization. (Thank you Mark Zuckerberg.) All these generations shift the culture and create fresh ideas and trends. We need each other.
And so when I hear that my particular generation is special or more than other generations, it ticks me off a bit. I was ordained to professional ministry as a twenty-something because the generation just above me gave me a chance. In my 30s, my children’s health insurance was covered by my denomination – whether I had one or eight kids. (I had 3 under the age of 4 at a time when I was sharing a single pastoral position with my spouse which means that our congregation paid double dues even though we were “one pastor” on paper. Thank God for that insurance though.)
And now, my denomination’s Board of Pensions, which made it possible for me to work at a very low income because they covered my and my children’s health insurance, is proposing a change for 2014 in which only 65% of the cost of dependents’ health insurance would be covered – the rest to be covered by pastors or their congregations.
This is unjust and incredibly short-sighted.
Small churches cannot afford to add this to their pastors’ benefits. Young pastors are most likely to have seminary and college loans to repay. We who choose to follow God’s call into professional ministry make the choice to live with less money and we simply can’t pick up an additional 35% of our insurance payments.
And just because Baby Boomers like me are either empty nesters or moving into empty nestedness, doesn’t mean we should refuse to support our young pastors with dependents. Someone supported us years ago. It’s wrong for us to “get ours” and then ditch our responsibilities to the generations behind us.
I am 56 years old and have no idea when I’ll be able to retire. College tuition is still part of our lives. There was a period of unemployment a few years back.
So I get it: even Baby Boomers have financial issues. But we aren’t the only ones, and in fact, our generation has most of the money as a whole. But – rich or poor – we are not the center of the universe. Life doesn’t begin and end with us. We have a responsibility to do what we can – pay more ourselves for insurance?! – so that younger generations can afford to serve our congregations and live relatively comfortable lives.
If you agree, please contact the PCUSA Board of Pensions (Corporate Secretary Andrew Browne: email@example.com) and let them know before they vote at their meeting in Philadelphia March 7-9.
We need to stick together – all generations, all kinds of human beings. Life is much sweeter this way.
Photo of BALE carrying JLE – spring 1956.