That’s what God asks of us: … and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
But what does that mean for the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)? That’s what we’re asking at the Board of Pensions as we work on redesigning the plan for 2017. And we’ve asked thousands of you the same question in one-on-ones and groups large and small over the last nine months.
All of us agree that we want to do justice. All of us want to see more church workers covered under the Benefits Plan. None of us feels good knowing that about 70 percent of active teaching elders are in the plan and less than 10 percent of all the other church workers are.
This is not a new line of questioning for Presbyterians, who have been discussing the thorny topic of justice and compensation for decades, maybe centuries. And as difficult as it might be to study and debate, implementing and living into it make for an entirely different ballgame. I just marked my one-year anniversary at the Board, and this challenge looks as big as any I faced in my career before coming here.
It’s also some of the most vital work I’ve been blessed to be involved in. This is Kingdom work. How we understand our communal life, how we use and share money, is as much about theology as it is about economics. As a community of faith, caring for each other should just about be at the top of our list.
The hundreds of medium-size congregations that have just one pastor to care for are able to do that through the Benefits Plan. We’re not going to change that. Those churches form our solid core, and the plan’s going to keep on working for them like it does now.
But the plan doesn’t always work well for larger churches that have a number of lay employees or smaller congregations and alternate worshiping communities, both of which often depend on teaching elders who are not in installed positions and lay employees. Many of those employers go outside the Benefits Plan to find coverage; others just don’t cover certain employees. We shouldn’t be OK with either.
First, we’re better connected if we get our benefits from the same place, where brothers and sisters are making decisions for brothers and sisters. Second, simply choosing not to cover those who serve our Church doesn’t meet the minimum threshold of justice in a discussion of compensation.
As we seek to redesign the plan, to build in flexibility to enable more employers to bring more church workers in, we want to reflect the values and connectional nature of the PC(USA).
We want to do justice.
Grace and peace,
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.
Pension Plan Experience Apportionment Effective July 1
As reported on pensions.org, a 4.7 percent experience apportionment for the Pension Plan took effect July 1. An experience apportionment is a lifelong increase in pension benefits for retirees and eligible survivors and an increase in accrued pension credits for active and terminated vested members.
As of December 31, 2014, the plan’s funded status was 130.5 percent, which the Board of Directors attributed to strong plan management and favorable investment performance. To learn more about the experience apportionment process, visit Will the Board grant a Pension Plan experience apportionment? on pensions.org.
At their June 25-27 meeting in Philadelphia, the Directors of the Board of Pensions left the current Traditional Program medical dues percentages — and medical minimums and maximums — in place for 2016, thereby assuring medical dues stability for Traditional Program employers and members in the year ahead.
The Directors also approved an alternate dues method for 2016 for employers that provide Traditional Program coverage to teaching elders who are not in installed positions and/or to lay employees (approximately one-third of the employers currently invoiced by the Board for medical coverage). The alternate dues method enables these employers to pay medical dues for teaching elders who are not in installed positions and/or lay employees using a dollar amount by coverage level rather than a percentage of effective salary. A letter was sent to eligible employers in early July.
For more news and information, including investment returns, read the summer 2015 Board Bulletin. To hear from the President of the Board of Pensions, the Reverend Frank Clark Spencer, on the listening-session takeaways that are guiding the Board’s benefits plan redesign work, view the video Serving More, Serving Better, Serving the Church.
The Board’s 2014 Annual Review, including the report by independent auditors, has been posted to pensions.org. With Appreciation, produced in thanks to those who support the Assistance Program, is also available on pensions.org.
At the start of its summer Board of Directors meeting in Philadelphia, June 25, the Board of Pensions sponsored and served a meal to more than 250 people at Broad Street Ministry (BSM), an ecumenical Christian church with deep Presbyterian roots. Joining in fellowship and service to BSM’s Breaking Bread program were 10 Directors of the Board, the President of the Board of Pensions, and 12 Board of Pensions staff, who rolled up their sleeves and extended the “radical hospitality” for which BSM is known. You can see them in action on pensions.org.
Breaking Bread is one of many services offered to meet the basic needs of the church’s vulnerable neighbors. BSM also provides a mail service; a clothing closet; and a unique, same-day mending service (read Mending as Ministry at pcusa.org). Throughout the year, the Board of Pensions provides teams of 10 or more volunteers from its staff to assist with these services.
“God calls us to care for one another, and the volunteer and financial sponsorship opportunities at Broad Street Ministry allow us to do just that — to care for our vulnerable neighbors,” said the Rev. Frank Spencer. “No matter how busy folks are at the Board of Pensions — and lately we’ve been pretty busy — we’re never too busy to share God’s love.”
New Fidelity Site Talks Budgeting, Investing, and Debt Management
Annual savings checkups are important because life changes — frequently. Fidelity Investments has launched a website for participants in the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP) to help them review and tweak retirement savings choices as life changes. Visit the Let’s get down to basics site. Or, find a specific topic that interests you: budgeting, investing, or debt management.
For more information, 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.
Less than Two Weeks Left To Register for Montreat
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn and to enjoy time at Montreat. Registration ends July 17 for the Financial Well-Being Retreat 2015, hosted by Board University in partnership with the Presbyterian Foundation. If you haven’t reserved your spot, now is the time to do so. Read more here.
Keep an Eye on Eye Health
Most people are aware that too much fun in the sun can damage their skin, but did you know it can harm your eyes, too? Exposure to UVA and UVB can burn delicate eye tissue and raise the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancers of the eye, making summer a good time to schedule a routine eye exam — and complete another health action for Call to Health.
What you can do
For more information
To learn more about your vision benefits through VSP, visit pensions.org. To see if your ophthalmologist is a Highmark network provider, call 888-835-2959, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. ET.
Anthem, Triple-S, Cigna Global Health Benefits, and Medicare Supplement enrollees should refer to their own plans’ provisions for vision benefits information.
Learn how to record your health actions and check the expanded options by viewing Answering the Call to Health, a new e-learning module from Board University.
This Board Bulletin reports actions taken at the summer 2015 meeting of the Board of Directors, June 25-27, that affect plans and programs administered by the Board.
Securely Access Your Statement of Benefits Online
Active and disabled Traditional Program members and retirees and survivors with a mailing address in the United States who receive monthly pension payments can get a current Statement of Benefits online. The easy-to-follow format consolidates information about the benefits you are receiving through the Benefits Plan into a report that you can review, save, and print.
To access your online statement, log in to your Benefits Connect account. Then, quickly generate your Statement of Benefits by clicking on
If you are not already taking advantage of Benefits Connect, register today!
If you have comments or feedback on this newsletter, please let us know at email@example.com.
If you have questions, call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) and speak with a member service representative.
We're looking for photos for possible use in future Board of Pensions communications!