The Board of Directors at PCA Retirement & Benefits, Inc. (RBI) has elected Ed Dunnington to serve as RBI’s next president. Dunnington is a teaching elder who has served as a financial planning advisor at RBI since 2015. Prior to joining RBI, he served as a church planter, pastor, and RUF campus minister. Dunnington will officially transition into the position on July 1, 2020, when he will succeed Gary Campbell who announced his retirement in the fall of 2018.
“After a thorough search process, the board is pleased to have found the best individual to serve as the next president of RBI,” said Jim Wert, chairman of RBI’s board of directors and moderator of the PCA’s 43rd General Assembly. “I had the honor of chairing the president search committee. We interviewed a number of capable finance professionals who love the PCA. It became apparent to us Ed’s background as a pastor as well as his expertise in financial planning is exactly what RBI needs at this moment.”
Ed Dunnington first felt the call to Christian ministry while attending Virginia Military Institute (VMI) where he received a B.S. in Mathematics. He went on active duty for the U.S. Army to fulfill his military service obligation. In 1994, he enrolled at Covenant Theological Seminary, graduating with an M.Div. in 1998. That same year he accepted a call to start an RUF ministry at the University of Washington. In 2006, Ed’s family moved to Roanoke, VA to be a part of a church planting effort where he established Christ the King Presbyterian Church. He continued to serve Christ the King from 2006 until 2015 when he was called to join the RBI staff. Since then, he has received both the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC®) certification and the Certified Financial Planning (CFP®) designation. While working on those technical certifications, Ed also completed his Doctor of Ministry at Covenant Theological Seminary where he concentrated on organizational health with an emphasis on systems and change theory.
Reflecting on his calling, Ed said “I have a passion for the PCA and those who serve the church. As a denomination, we will only be as healthy as those who lead us. I want to make sure our pastors, church staff, and ministry employees get the advice and services they need to fulfill their callings today while also preparing for their financial future. I believe RBI is uniquely positioned to help lead our denomination to greater denominational health. With the expansion of our benefits to include affordable and anonymous counseling, I believe we have an opportunity to improve the ways we serve the denomination.”
The selection of Dunnington follows thirteen years of healthy growth under the leadership of Gary Campbell. Under Campbell’s leadership, the net retirement assets that RBI administers has grown by more than 100% to $650 million. At the same time, RBI has sustained healthy operating reserves, as well as retirement plan operating expense ratios below the average of traditionally managed mutual fund retirement plans. Additionally, RBI has substantially grown its financial planning advisory capabilities during Campbell’s tenure.
“I’ve been honored to serve in this position and could not be more excited to see Ed follow me in it,” according to outgoing President Gary Campbell. “We exist to serve those who serve the local church. Ed knows what it is like to serve in the congregational context while also knowing what it takes to plan for your financial future. I’m confident RBI will continue to improve and expand under his leadership.”
Ed and his wife, Stefanie, have been married since 1992 and are parents to two sons and two daughters. They make their home outside Atlanta, Georgia, and Ed serves as a member of the Georgia Foothills Presbytery.
Q&A with Ed
Please provide us with a brief testimony of your relationship with Jesus Christ and your spiritual journey.
I was raised in a Christian home where two things were made obvious to me through my parents: the supremacy of Christ and the centrality of the church. Though I made a profession of faith at a young age, I don’t believe I fully grasped what I was doing at the time. It wasn’t until my first year at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) I began to realize the full implications of the gospel. I learned I had an obligation to obey God and His Word and this began to affect all of my life, speech, actions, and interests.
One summer while in college I worked for Young Life as a college staff member at Lake Champion Summer Camp in New York. During that summer, the Lord provided many opportunities for me to share the gospel with high school students while I worked on the lake as a lifeguard. The experience confirmed in my mind the desire to go into full-time ministry.
What attracted you to the RBI President role?
My father passed away when he was 59 years old while I was attending seminary. It awakened me to two realities. First, we all need to be prepared for the unexpected and plan wisely for the future. Second, we need to be mindful of the widows in our midst like my mother. I became deeply concerned that my fellow pastors and staff be adequately compensated and protected against risks. It also opened my eyes to the importance of “true religion,” caring for widows and orphans.
Even before I joined RBI as a staff member, I have been a passionate ambassador for their mission. I’ve always encouraged fellow ministers to utilize their services and I fought for good benefits for the staff at the church I served.
In 2014, Gary Campbell invited me to be a part of the ministry of RBI. I love the vision of RBI as we seek to care for our ministry families. It is a compelling vision that makes me interested in the role of president. I would consider it a privilege and joy to steward that vision, with the staff, for the denomination.
What opportunities and challenges do you see as it pertains to RBI?
In 2010, the PCA commissioned PWC to conduct a study of the retirement readiness of pastors across the denomination. The results showed we will need $5M per year by 2035 to assist pastors who will be in various states of financial distress and keep the widows of our pastors out of poverty. It was a wakeup call for me. I became even more active in helping to address this issue both personally and locally. I championed RBI’s Call Package Guidelines (CPG) in my presbytery and always seemed to be asking fellow ministers what they were doing to plan for retirement.
As an agency, RBI has a huge opportunity to serve the PCA. We have one customer: the staff and employees of PCA organizations. I know exactly what it’s like to face the various demands that come with serving the local church. We have to help our churches understand how to structure and adequately compensate their staff. Likewise, we have to help ministry staff and families prioritize financial planning.
How would describe your approach to leadership?
I seek to be a collaborative leader who is committed to relationships, excellence, vision and brokenness. Pete Scazzero’s Emotional Healthy Leader book and Ken Sande’s Relational Wisdom 360 (RW360) have profoundly shaped my approach to leadership in the past decade. Since being exposed to their material, as well as working with Bob Burns on systems theory and organizational health, I pray my leadership has continued to grow.
The Lord has graciously given me a desire to cast vision and set direction. Whether it has been to see RUF start in the Pacific Northwest or the Lord establish a church in Roanoke, I love to see the Lord work in remarkable ways.
What would you like us to know about your family?
My wife, Stefanie, and I have been married since 1992. We have four children, the younger two adopted. My family has enjoyed the move to the Atlanta area. Stefanie manages our home and works part-time outside the home. I am grateful for my family and my wife especially. Stefanie has been willing to move all over the country with me and has been very supportive of me pursuing this new role.
Endorsements for Ed
After a long, careful, and thoroughly professional search process, I am enthusiastic about the search committee’s decision to recommend Ed Dunnington as RBI’s next president. From the outset, this search process has been led by the importance of culture fit. RBI is what it is today due to Gary Campbell’s hard work at transforming RBI’s culture from a transactional ethos (where success was defined almost exclusively by the bottom line), to a relational ethos (where love, relational connection, and pastoral care inform the spirit and conduct of excellent work). These changes impacted RBI internally, and have spilled out into the PCA as a whole. As a matter of first priority, the new leader must grasp, support, and pledge to continue that course. And Ed brings those qualities in abundance. In his work as a financial planner, Ed has been immersed in RBI’s frontline care for pastors and their families. As an experienced pastor, he brings instincts of care and compassion. He has been around long enough to fully grasp the direction RBI has been heading and is committed to carrying it on. He is also highly connected in the PCA, including at the GA level. He understands denominational politics and how to navigate the waters of various groups. Finally, his certification as a CFP and his work in that field have prepared him to take the next steps of learning about investments and money management. While he has areas that will need to be shored up with training, coaching, and staffing help, I believe Ed will be a great successor to Gary, and I cannot wait to work with him in that role.
TE Jon Medlock
Director of PCA Ministerial Relief
Former Chairman, PCA RBI Board of Directors
It has been a great delight to know Ed. The excitement and passion he brings to his current role demonstrates his love and desire to serve the Lord and others. During the selection process, Ed was humble, respectful and impressive. I look forward to watching him grow as the next President of RBI PCA.
Managing Director, Riverside Management Group
New York, NY
As a Patrick Lencioni fan, I tend to use his frameworks a lot, including when thinking about important hiring decisions. In his book, The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni lays out three critical characteristics, all of which I believe characterize Ed. He’s hungry, and in a good way, constantly thinking, constantly reading, passionate in looking for ways that RBI can be of greater help to the pastors and staff that we serve. He’s smart in his ability to assess and motivate people, along with the impact he’s having on them, typically with infectious good humor. At the same time, Ed also wants to grow in his effectiveness in this area. And that points to Lencioni’s third criterion, one of the toughest in a demanding work environment, and one that Gary also exemplifies: Ed is humble. He’s sensible and transparent toward where he has development needs. He’s team-oriented when tackling significant challenges. He’s seeking to fulfill God’s calling in his life, not advance in the organizational hierarchy. And he’s open, even eager, to learn and be coached. I’m enthusiastic in joining our search committee in this recommendation.
RE Jim Wert
Managing Director, Wert & Associates
Moderator, 43rd General Assembly
The transition of Gary Campbell from the position of President represents a challenge and an opportunity. Ed Dunnington is the person the Lord has provided to navigate the challenge and embrace the opportunity ahead. Ed brings the right balance of technical proficiency, leadership potential, and organizational understanding necessary to lead RBI in the coming years. The extensive search has made it abundantly clear that Ed Dunnington is the best candidate, by far.
TE Eric Zellner
Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church
In my mind, Ed epitomizes much, if not all, of what RBI has become and with his leadership will continue to excel at serving our community/participants. His tireless hours building relationships that go well beyond the financial planning needs of our community is having a significant impact. Ed’s passion for our mission and values is contagious for not only the RBI staff, but also the board. His knowledge and relationships within the PCA will continue RBI’s role as a unifying force among various PCA constituencies.
RE Paul Fullerton
Managing Director, Large Financial Firm
Geneva Benefits Group serves those who serve others, providing practical support for the financial, physical, and mental wellbeing of people who work in full-time ministry.