The question came up at our Regional Benefits Consultations last month, and we’ve heard it before: Why doesn’t the Board of Pensions just get out of the healthcare business?

I happen to think the Church should be in the healthcare business. I truly believe that we’re better connected if we get our benefits from the same place. Our Medical Plan is self-insured. Brothers and sisters are making decisions for brothers and sisters. This is one way we care for each other in our community of faith.

It’s certainly not the profit motive that’s keeping us in the healthcare business. Yes, we’ve managed our costs well, and, yes, we could keep on the same path by raising dues along the way. But we’re here to serve the Church, and administering a plan that has fewer and fewer people in it every year is not serving the Church.

The Benefits Plan hasn’t been inclusive enough. We’re not caring for enough of us. We like to think that everyone is in the plan. Not true. About 70 percent of active teaching elders are in the plan, but less than 10 percent of everybody else who serves the Church is a plan member.

A combination of Board policy and local decision-making has systematically excluded more and more people. You’re not alone if you’re managing your part-time folks so their hours fall just below the minimum for benefits. We want to help you change that.

I’ve talked with a lot of folks in the last eight months, and what I’ve heard, over and over, is that the plan needs to be flexible. An all-or-nothing choice isn’t meeting local needs. Employers want options so that they can provide employees with some kind of coverage instead of none at all.

Right now, we’re evaluating a number of designs that would lift some of the constraints in the Benefits Plan and make it more flexible — and more affordable. We’re going to continue the support for thousands of vibrant congregations and their installed pastors and also find a way to help small churches and emerging ministries. It doesn’t have to be either or.

We’re no longer managing for decline here at the Board of Pensions.

Grace and peace,

The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer

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.

Board Uses RBCs To Gather Input on Plan Redesign

How can we serve more?

The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions, put that question to participants at the 2015 Regional Benefits Consultations (RBCs). The RBCs were redesigned this year so the Board could gather input on redesigning the Benefits Plan to enable more servants of the Church to be covered. (Go to the Board’s Facebook page to lend your voice to the conversation.)

For a summary of the RBCs, read RBC Conversations Focus on Serving More on For the full record, watch the videos, recorded at the first RBC, in San Diego:

Day 1

Day 2

Traveling Abroad? The Medical Plan Has You Covered

Are you planning a trip outside the United States? Whether it’s for missionary work or a vacation, the Medical Plan has you covered for medically necessary services. International SOS provides medical assistance services, including

  • emergency medical evacuation;
  • 24-hour access to International SOS physicians for emergency and routine medical advice;
  • 24-hour access to International Alarm Centers for medical information, referrals, and emergency assistance;
  • access to multilingual specialists, who can assist you in communicating with healthcare providers;
  • medical and dental referrals; and
  • case management.

And it’s not just while you’re out of the country. As you plan your trip, call International SOS for help with preparing for vaccinations, required medications, and travel security or medical concerns.

Learn more about this benefit on

Saving Is Easy with the RSP

Can you name four advantages to participating in the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP)? Read Save More for Retirement with the RSP on to learn how to save more and save now.

Answer the Call to Health and Take a Step toward Whole Health

Last year, 43.4 percent of Medical Plan members answered the Call to Health, saving on their 2015 deductibles and taking steps to achieve their best health. This year, our goal is 50 percent. Help us exceed it! Staying healthy is the responsibility of the whole community, so let’s work on it together.

And remember, physical well-being is just one part of good health. It’s also spiritual, vocational, financial, and emotional well-being. Answer the Call to Health, and you take a big step toward whole health.

Now, with a nod to The Late Show and David Letterman, here are the top 10 presbyteries with the highest percentages of members completing the Call to Health in 2014.

  Rank Presbytery Answered Call to Health
  1   Stockton 75.0%
  2   John Calvin 73.0%
  3   Sierra Blanca 72.7%
  4   Lehigh 71.9%
  5   Winnebago 69.7%
  6   Homestead 68.8%
  7   Redwoods 68.1%
  8   Minnesota Valleys 67.7%
  9   Des Moines 66.7%
  10   Huntingdon 66.7%

'Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.'

Friday, June 5, was World Environment Day, a day that encourages worldwide environmental awareness and action. The 2015 theme — Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care. — highlighted the effect of food choice and production on our planet’s health. It encouraged people to reflect on the environmental — and personal — cost of their eating habits.

Your food choices affect the planet and your health more than you may know. In fact, the food you eat is even more important than the car you drive in creating the greenhouse-gas emissions scientists link to global warming. A University of Chicago study found that a person who consumes a meat-based diet and drives a Prius contributes more toward global warming than one who eats low on the food chain and drives a Hummer. This study and many others say going meatless, even one day a week, is the single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. That’s on top of the benefits to your health.

Your medical benefits may help with the cost of getting guidance on your food choices. If you are enrolled in the active Medical Plan, your copay to see a network registered dietitian or other licensed medical provider for nutritional counseling is $25 per visit [if your body mass index (BMI) is less than 30 (or $0 per visit if your BMI is 30 or more)].* Plus, nutritional counseling with a network provider between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2015, counts as a health action for Call to Health!

So help protect our planet — as well as your health — by improving your everyday food choices. If you don’t already consume with care, start today!

*If you are enrolled in Anthem, Triple-S, Cigna Global Health Benefits, or Medicare, your coverage may differ; consult your plan’s provisions for details.

If you haven’t yet registered for the Board’s first-ever Financial Well-Being Retreat, now is the time to do so.

Financial Well-Being Retreat 2015 will be hosted by Board University, Monday and Tuesday, August 17 and 18, 2015, at Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina. Learn more here.


Find upcoming seminars and locations

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

  • the Generate Your Statement of Benefits button on the Welcome page that opens when you log in; or
  • Statement of Benefits under My Benefits in the left-hand menu.

If you are not already taking advantage of Benefits Connect, register today!

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

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