Pastors, Check Your 403(b) Number!

salaried-employees-income-tax-exemption-600x450No, not your account balance, though that’s permissible and advisable on occasion. If you have a 403(b) retirement account the all-important number to check is the one that follows immediately after the designation of 403(b). Is it a 403(b)(7) or a 403(b)(9)? The difference in those two numbers could save you thousands of tax dollars in retirement – or it could cost you thousands of tax dollars in retirement.

A 403(b)(9) not only allows your church to make contributions to your retirement account tax free, it also allows you to take distributions in retirement tax free! That is, as long as those funds are used for your Housing Allowance. You can’t find a better rate of return on your money than that! Clergy can still claim a Housing Allowance in retirement but the 403(b)(9) is the only vehicle that affords you that benefit. As a side-bar, should you predecease your spouse, the Housing Allowance provision is discontinued.

CBAmerica has recently forged a partnership with Guidestone, a Christian ministry oriented financial services provider. Member churches of Mission Northeast are eligible to avail themselves of Guidestone’s resources which include counsel and a wide-range of financial services, including, but not limited to, planning for retirement.

You may work with a trusted financial planner but not all CFP’s are aware of this particular provision. So check that number on your 403(b) and contact for more information. If you discover that you’re missing a (9) after your 403(b) Guidestone can help you convert that (7) into a (9). They did it for me.

For more information go to

Church Health Assessment Training


IMG_0027Eleven pastors from across the Mission Northeast region gathered on May 18-19 at Sacandaga Bible Conference in Broadalbin, NY for two days of intensive training in Church Health Assessment. Learning the “science and art” of assessing church health were David Forsythe of Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA, Doug Geeze of Auburn, MA; Bob Buchannan of Fitchburg, MA; Jamie Walton of N. Uxbridge, MA; Bruce Stevens and Scott Benner of Old Town ME; John Johnston of Parker, ME; Ira Hall of Bean’s Corner, ME; Steve Murray of Nashua, NH; Dave Johnson of Vernon, NY and John Hawco of Middletown, NY.

CBAmerica National Facilitator, Stan Rieb, came in from Colorado to conduct the training. Drawing on his experience of conducting 100 plus church assessments, Stan led this first of a kind training event for Ministry Mapping. After investing some time considering the biblical foundations for assessment and characteristics of healthy church ministry, the men were introduced to concepts related to the Church Life Cycle and the Ministry Systems of a congregation. In the course of the two days we walked through all the steps of the assessment process – from gathering survey information, to diagnosing church health, to organizing and conducting the weekend church consultation.

After learning how to interpret the data, integrating it with other submitted materials, the trainees were divided into two assessment teams for case study work. Each took on the assignment of evaluating the health of a real, yet anonymous church. The first case study involved a larger church with multiple staff in a city setting. The second was a smaller church located in a more rural context. From the information provided from the church self-study, each team was assigned a three-fold task: identify five strengths of the congregation, raise five health concerns, and write five prescriptions to address the church’s health issues. The teams were “coached” as needed through the process and at the conclusion debriefed on the exercise.IMG_0028

While the training time was intensive, it wasn’t all work. We thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed retreat setting on Lake Sacandaga, well-prepared meals, and the camaraderie of men who love the church of Jesus Christ and long to see greater health restored to our Mission Northeast congregations. All were agreed that it was time well-invested, not only for their respective congregations, but for Mission Northeast as we are increasingly enabled to provide qualified assessment teams for our churches.

As a region we value church health and leadership development, and so we plan to invite a second group of pastors for this training event within the next year.

Open Mic Night

open mic A fun, exciting event took place in Ossining on March 19, as churches from the local CB cluster participated in an “Open Mic Night” hosted by Community Bible Church. Many local church members and their unchurched friends participated in the event as everyone enjoyed and performed a variety of music and poetry.

Pastor Gershwin Grant (of Calvary Baptist Church of Ossining) can be seen leading an impromptu band in a blues rendition of “Down by the Riverside.”  Rev. Grant is also the Area Director for CB Mission Northeast and the moderator of the Hudson Valley Cluster and Learning Community.

The Open Mic Night is just one opportunity for CB churches to engage their communities together.  In the days to come, there will be opportunities for our churches to work together side by side, to share the gospel, and build God’s kingdom throughout the lower Hudson Valley. By building community and sharing a common vision, we open the door to pulpit supply, group learning opportunities, pulpit exchanges, sharing musicians, group work projects, church planting and more.  The possibilities for the future are boundless.  The future of CB Mission Northeast is very bright indeed.

To participate in the Hudson Valley Cluster and Learning Community,  call Rev. Dr. Gershwin Grant at (914) 762-7739 or email him at:



The Persecuted Church in Pakistan Event

People-pakistan-32673078-500-333Hello Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

For the last 20 years I have been privileged to be involved with a group of pastors and Christian leaders in Pakistan that are standing firm and strong for the gospel in the most challenging of circumstances. One the key leaders of this group is coming to the USA and as it turns out he will be staying with me from June 28th to July 5th.

I will be hosting a Pastors-Christian workers forum for him to speak about the persecuted church in Pakistan. The forum will be held on Thursday June 30th at First Baptist Church Peekskill, starting at 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm. I would like to invite the Pastors, Elders, Deacons, Deaconesses and/or other leaders or interested parties to join us for the evening.

If you are planning to attend please call my secretary Anne at 914-737-0321 to register your intended attendance and the number of folks who will be coming with you.

His name is Dr. Peter Calvin he is Pakistani and leads two of the most significant ministries in Pakistan that are reaching Muslims with the gospel. He is the Director of a Christian publishing company and he is the Board President of the Fellowship of Brethren Churches of Pakistan (FBCP). The FBCP has 100 churches in it and another 100 church plants they are working at planting. Dr. Calvin has lived his entire life in Pakistan (except for education aboard) and is one of the most informed people in the world on the topic of the persecuted church in Pakistan.

Pastor Denny Burns
First Baptist Peekskill NY

Alive and Growing


Serving as the Hudson Valley Area Director for Mission Northeast comes with many challenges. But it also supplies many moments to treasure.

I recently spent a spiritually engaging evening in a church full of wonderful men and women who have settled in our region. They are the Quechua people of South America, and through the ongoing ministry of Missions Door and the work of men like Antonio DeLazerda, Aurelio Cruz and Mark Marchak, they are not only coming to know the Lord, but also becoming a part of the Conservative Baptist family. Pray for these dedicated men as they continue to successfully plant churches throughout our Mission Northeast territory in New England and New York.

SAM_2512Last year I had the privilege to be a part of the inauguration of a Quechua congregation in Spring Valley. This week I joined Antonio and pastors from several other Quechua churches as the Iglesia Evangelica Jesus El Buen Pastor celebrated its first anniversary. It was a beautiful, colorful, Spirit-filled ceremony that combined traditional Quechua customs and pageantry with a powerful evangelical message. Aurelio Cruz of Missions Door will be working with Mission Northeast to support the work of these ministries by promoting healthy churches and pastors through the networks and resources that Mission Northeast provides.

As you consider your missions giving I hope you will keep the Quechua church movement in mind. It provides a unique opportunity be a part of a powerful, godly work that is taking place amidst a unique people group-right in our own back yard.

If you are interested in supporting the Quechua church planting movement, you can contact Mark Marchak at Missions Door or contact me.

Rev. Dr. Gershwin Grant
Area Director
Hudson Valley Mission Northeast
Rev. Dr. Gershwin Grant:

Mark Marchak’s contact information :