Press Release: Wespath Announces 2017 Calkins and Lee Award Recipients

March 14, 2017


For Immediate Release

Contact: Colette Nies, Managing Director, Communications
(847) 866-4296 or

Glenview, IL—Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) conferred two distinguished leadership awards during its recent board of directors’ meeting in Hollywood, Florida.

West Virginia Annual Conference Director of Administrative Services, Mr. Jim Berner, was named the 2017 recipient of the Charles L. Calkins Award, and former Wespath director, Mr. Jerry Pinkerton (North Texas Annual Conference), was named the 2017 recipient of the Clay F. Lee Award. The awards were presented by Wespath Board Life and Governance Committee Chairperson, Reverend Dr. Gray Southern, and General Secretary Barbara Boigegrain. (Photos attached below)

The Charles L. Calkins Award—Jim Berner
Established in 1988, the Charles L. Calkins Award recognizes an annual conference pension and health benefits administrator who, in partnership with Wespath, has provided exceptional service in the administration of pension and health benefits within The United Methodist Church.

The award is named in honor of Charles L. Calkins who served Wespath as Associate Secretary from 1938 to 1952 and as Executive/General Secretary from 1952 to 1964.

The nomination was submitted by Reverend Dr. Bill Wilson of the West Virginia Annual Conference. His nomination was supported by Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, resident bishop of the West Virginia Annual Conference, and three former conference bishops: Bishop S. Clifton Ives, Bishop Ernest S. Lyght and Bishop William Boyd Grove. Dr. Wilson described the scope of Mr. Berner’s contributions and commitment to the service values honored by the Calkins Award (paraphrased below):

“Jim’s leadership helps the conference as a whole become healthier and more effective in ministry to the community and to the world. He goes the extra mile, making extraordinary efforts to try to make sure people understand and have what they need. He connects with people; and is able to cast a vision with the ability to translate the vision into action.

“Jim is supportive of the connectional system, with a great desire to learn and to share what he discovers. He truly understands the concept of being blessed in order to be a blessing to others.” Dr. Wilson was joined by his wife, Jane for the celebratory dinner.

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball also spoke during the award ceremony in commending Mr. Berner and acknowledging his service over the years as Conference Benefits Officer, Treasurer and Director of Administrative Services. Mr. Berner was joined for the awards presentation by his wife, Beth.

The Clay F. Lee Award—Jerry Pinkerton
Established in 1999, the Clay F. Lee Award recognizes former directors of Wespath who have given exemplary service and visionary leadership in caring for the pension and health benefit needs of The United Methodist Church.

The award is named in honor of Bishop Clay F. Lee who served Wespath as a member from 1980 to 1988 and as president from 1992 to 1996.

Former director, Jerry Pinkerton, was nominated by Dr. Will Green, a former director and current non-board (at-large) committee member. Dr. Green shared his thoughts in his nominating petition (paraphrased below):

“Jerry served twenty-four years on behalf of Wespath Benefits and Investments; three quadrennia as a non-board (at-large) committee member and three quadrennia as a director. During that period, he was instrumental in the enhancement of Audit Committee procedures and the eventual transition to Wespath’s modified Policy Governance model. During his tenure, Jerry served on the Audit Committee for six quadrennia (as chair for one quadrennium), chaired the Board Life & Governance Committee for two quadrennia, and served on the Executive, the Services and the Nominations Committees.

Dr. Green noted, “The committees on which Jerry served are critical to the organization and require an extreme amount of detail, diligence and forethought. Jerry not only served as an effective leader who was not afraid to get his hands dirty, but he handled his duties with a sense of humor that endeared him to his fellow directors. Jerry has a talent for making even the most mundane areas less burdensome by his wit. He is the personification of what a Wespath board member should be: intelligent, diligent and humble.” Dr. Green was joined by his wife, Dianne for the celebratory dinner.

Ms. Necia Dexter, a current Wespath director, also spoke during the awards ceremony in commending Mr. Pinkerton and recognizing his various contributions to Wespath over his 24-year tenure. Mr. Pinkerton was joined for the awards presentation by his wife, Judy.

Left to right: Board Chair Bishop Robert Schnase, Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, Jim Berner, Beth Berner, Rev. Dr. Bill Wilson, General Secretary Barbara Boigegrain

Left to right: Board Chair Bishop Robert Schnase, Dr. Will Green, Judy Pinkerton, Jerry Pinkerton, Board Member Necia Dexter, General Secretary Barbara Boigegrain


About Wespath Benefits and Investments
Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) is a not-for-profit administrative agency of The United Methodist Church, with Church-authorized fiduciary responsibility for the benefit plans it administers and the assets it invests.

Prudent investment management decisions are an ongoing, long-term priority, supporting benefit plans for over 100,000 participants and approximately $21 billion in assets managed on their behalf, and for many United Methodist-affiliated endowments, foundations and other institutions.

Wespath is the largest reporting faith-based pension fund in the world and among the top 100 pension funds in the United States. Its sustainable investment activities are carried out by Wespath Investment Management, the agency’s investments division.



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