We’re in the dog days of summer, as you all well know. But we’re also in the church season of Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time is regular time, everyday time. Our faith is lived out and passed on in the small moments, not just on big occasions. Consistency and routine often bring meaning to our lives.

Ordinary Time provides an opportunity to slow down. So, I’m going to slow down for a moment to appreciate the Assistance Program. With all the time we’re putting into redesigning the Benefits Plan, there hasn’t been a lot of room for giving thanks for a Board of Pensions program that gets better every year. The Assistance Program has been the Board’s work for centuries.

When the Synod of Philadelphia established the Fund for Pious Uses in 1717, the Board was born. It wasn’t born to administer health benefits and a pension plan. Synod leaders wanted to keep saddlebag preachers on the trail, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to care for their families when those preachers passed on.

They asked the Presbytery of Dublin for donations to the fund. “Many poor souls are scattered to and fro in this wilderness, under awful danger of perishing for lack of vision,” they wrote to their brothers and sisters in Ireland. Pastors were ministering to people of great “paucity and poverty” but for the barest of compensation, which might include a stack of firewood or some linen yarn.

The foundational principle of the Fund for Pious Uses was care for church workers and their families, a principle confirmed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Assistance Program provides income and housing supplements for retired church workers and their survivors, gives out grants to help with urgent financial needs, and provides vocational and spiritual support for pastors. Last year, the program accounted for nearly $5.3 million in assistance.

No dues are collected for the Assistance Program. Like the Fund for Pious Uses, it depends on gifts from our church community and investment earnings from donated trusts, estates, and endowments. Those donations come at all times of the year, not just on holidays.

Yes, our care for each other occurs in Ordinary Time.* With a word, a touch, a note, a text, or a monthly check for income support. We witness God’s grace and live out our lives in ordinary ways that reflect the extraordinary love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace,

The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer


*In July 2014, Rev. Spencer preached a sermon at Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, in which he told the story of his grandmother and how she “passed on her faith in Ordinary Time.”

Welcome to Board Connections, the newsletter for The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This publication highlights recent Board news and important updates and information. We hope you find this newsletter useful, and we welcome your feedback at any time.

Large Employers: Help with ACA Reporting Requirements Is at Hand

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalents must provide information to the IRS about the health plan coverage they offer — and do not offer — their employees. The webinar ACA Reporting Requirements: Who, What, When discusses the forms employers must file and those the Board, as the plan sponsor, must submit. Employee statements also must be distributed.

Listen to the webinar recording to learn more.

Clergy Effective Salaries Reports Available

The Board has tabulated effective salary data for 2015 to assist decision-makers with reviewing clergy compensation. Two reports are available, one organized by congregation size and years of service and the other by synod. Read more on pensions.org.

These reports are separate from the Board’s salary study that reports effective salary information for various calculations under the Benefits Plan. For information based on that study, see the Salaries in the Parish Ministry 2015 Salary Study Available article and the salary study document on pensions.org.

Get Your Annual Savings Checkup Today

Have your retirement investment choices kept pace with your life? Find out at Fidelity’s new Let’s get down to basics site. Choose investing to see what kind of investor you are, or click on budgeting for a fast savings and spending checkup.

For more information, RSP participants may call Fidelity at 800-343-0860 to speak with a representative (mention plan #57887). You may be asked for your user name or Social Security number. Or, contact the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) and talk with a member service representative.

The Assistance Program Lends a Hand to New College Freshmen

The Transition-to-College Assistance Grant program is designed to help eligible families of new college freshmen with transitional expenses, such as a computer or dorm room furnishings. A nonrecurring, one-time grant is available to qualifying members of the Benefits Plan based on financial need, plan participation, and enrollment of a dependent child as a full-time freshman in an accredited college or university. Amounts range from $500 to $1,000, depending on total family income.

Grant applications for the 2015-2016 academic year will be accepted from August 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016. To apply, complete the Transition-to-College Assistance Grant Application and return it to the Board at the address listed on the form.

August Is National Immunization Awareness Month

August — back-to-school month for many schoolchildren — is the perfect time to make sure you and your family members are protected against disease.

If your children are due for immunizations listed in the Schedule for Children portion of the 2015 Preventive Schedule, make an appointment with your healthcare provider today. Then bring this schedule to your doctor. It lists the preventive screenings, tests, and immunizations covered by the Medical Plan for active members and their families, with no deductible or copay.*

Also check the preventive schedule for any immunizations or screenings you may need — and keep in mind, annual well visits are a required health action for Call to Health for members of the Medical Plan. See your healthcare provider by September 30 if you want your visit to count toward completion of Call to Health.

Let National Immunization Awareness Month be a reminder to schedule your family’s annual well visits and get the scheduled tests and immunizations you and your children need. Achieve your best health and lower your deductibles for 2016.

*Those enrolled in Anthem, Triple-S, and Cigna Global Health Benefits or the Medicare Supplement Plan also have preventive care benefits under their plans, but coverage details differ. Consult your plan’s provisions for more information.

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If you have comments or feedback on this newsletter, please let us know at communications@pensions.org.

If you have questions, call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) and speak with a member service representative.

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