Benefit society helps with end-of-life financial burdens

Benefit society helps with end-of-life financial burdens

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Were your ears ringing this morning?”

Janie Johnson posted that on Sue Lackey’s Facebook wall after Tim Smith, president of the University of Mobile (UM), gave his report during the Alabama Baptist State Convention (ABSC) annual meeting Nov. 15.

Smith “mentioned your names,” Johnson wrote, “and reminded us of the memorial and Great Commission Floating Globe that represents the labor of love for Lord done by you and Bro. Fred.”

And under her post, comments spilled by the dozens.

“Amazing man. We were honored to know him.”

“God threw away the mold. Only made one of Bro. Fred and Ms. Sue.”

“A man that truly loved God.”

Fred Lackey — a pastor, UM trustee and regent, ABSC president and leader in Southern Baptist life — died in July 2016.

And when he did, his wife, Sue, was left with a lot of decisions to make.

“You have so many decisions to make in a very short time,” she said. “Many of those decisions are monetary.”

So when she received a benefit check from the Alabama Baptist Benefit Society, it provided “great comfort” and “another little reminder of how Fred’s life impacted so many others.”

She was able to use the money to help pay for his headstone and other pressing needs, she said.

That’s the purpose of the Alabama Baptist Benefit Society, a group that provides financial aid to its members’ families after their death, according to John Killian, a member of the society’s board of directors.

“Many years ago a group of pastors saw pastors passing on in a time of poverty and need, so they started the society to meet that need,” Killian said. The idea was that each member would give $1 each time someone died, and those dollars would be collected and sent to the family of the pastor.

Since then, membership has been expanded to include any church employee from pastor to janitor and people from outside the state of Alabama. Applicants must be 60 or younger and in good health. Eligible members pay a $5 registration fee, $10 in yearly dues, then $1 each time a member dies. Those funds are collected and sent to the family of the deceased member to help with funeral costs or other needs. So, for instance, if the society has 2,000 members at the time of a death, the member’s family would receive $2,000.

Helping families

It’s not life insurance — it’s simply a benefit, Killian said. “By being a part, you’re helping the family of every member who passes away.”

For Sue Lackey, the check was both a help and testimony to her husband’s ministry.

“I am grateful for the society’s benefit check I received upon Fred’s death but also what it represented in his life,” she said.

For more information about the Alabama Baptist Benefit Society, call Mike McLemore at 205-991-6502 or visit