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Relief of Conscience

Churches and other employing organizations that object as a matter of conscience to the use of their dues for abortion procedures may apply for relief of conscience (ROC).

Details of the ROC Plan

A dollar amount equal to the cost of abortion procedures from the prior year is set aside from the Medical Plan dues of employers that have relief of conscience status. These monies are transferred to the Board of Pensions Assistance Program, where they provide a small portion of the funding for Adoption Assistance Grants to Benefits Plan members.

Relief of conscience is granted to the organization that pays dues. The full coverage protection of the Medical Plan is available to all Benefits Plan members whether or not their employing organization has relief of conscience status.

Process for Participation in the ROC Plan

A session or other employing organization that seeks relief of conscience must pass a resolution that declares it objects as a matter of conscience to the payment of abortion procedures by the Medical Plan. This resolution must be directed to the presbytery of jurisdiction, which acts to grant or deny relief of conscience. Employing organizations that seek relief of conscience are advised to discuss their presbytery’s procedure with the Executive/General Presbyter, Stated Clerk, or Committee on Ministry. If the presbytery grants relief of conscience, it notifies the Board of Pensions. The Board of Pensions in turn acknowledges to the session and the presbytery receipt of their actions and places the congregation or other employing organization on the relief of conscience roll.

The following is an accounting of the total number of churches participating in the ROC plan:

  • As of December 31, 2017, there were 396 churches on the relief of conscience roll.

The following is an accounting of the total dollar figure paid under the ROC plan:

  • During 2017, churches on the relief of conscience roll paid approximately $6,450,000 in medical dues, representing approximately 3.8 percent of total medical dues paid.

The following is an accounting of the total dollar figure dispensed by the Board of Pensions for adoption programs:

  • During 2017, $39,000 was dispensed in Adoption Assistance Grants.

List of Churches Granted ROC Status

The 221st General Assembly (2014) urged the Board of Pensions to publish a list of those churches that have been granted relief of conscience status by their presbyteries. That list appears below.

If you are seeking a particular church, you may wish to try a search. In many browsers, you may do this by holding down the CTRL key and pressing F for “Find,” then entering the church or city name.