Board Connections: September 2015

Part of being church is modeling the way God intends for the world to be. As Scripture reveals, the God we worship is a God of justice. Scripture tells us to “maintain justice, and do what is right,” and Presbyterians hold that fairly compensating workers is right. One way we demonstrate justice is to support our church workers with salaries, benefits, vacation, and opportunities for spiritual growth and renewal.

Unfortunately, we’re not doing this consistently. There’s a broadly held belief that all teaching elders are in the Benefits Plan, administered here at the Board of Pensions, but it isn’t so. Only about 70 percent of active teaching elders participate. The others are either in a plan through their employer or they’re in roles that don’t get benefits. As for other church workers, less than 10 percent of them are plan members.

Board policies and local decision making have systematically kept folks out of the plan. The design of the benefits package and affordability have been factors. That’s why we’re redesigning the plan to make it more flexible and give employers more choices. They’ve asked for that. The current plan was designed for installed teaching elders, and it works well for them, so we won’t change that. But it’s just not easily adapted to everybody else.

We’re taking a holistic approach in the redesign. God wants us all to experience shalom, a flourishing of life. As Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls people to service and asks them to give their best gifts and energies to kingdom work. To do that, they need to be well in heart, mind, body, and spirit. Those are the marks of life abundant.

Life abundant requires all of us in the PC(USA) to be in relationship with each other. We are a connectional church, and our connections will grow if we get our benefits from the same place, and connections help build the body.

The Church faces many challenges and being more connected is not the solution to all of them. But acting together, as a spiritual community, to support those who serve our Church will strengthen us — and model God’s justice.

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.

Financial Well-Being Retreat 2015 Exceeds Expectations

Financial Well-Being Retreat 2015 at Montreat, hosted by the Board in partnership with the Presbyterian Foundation, was well received by attendees. To learn more, read the article on

The Learning Connection: Online Courses Continue This Fall!

This fall, Board University will continue its rollout of The Learning Connection, a learning management system offering online courses to new members. The Learning Connection was launched in the spring as a pilot, with registration by invitation only to a test audience. Watch starting in mid-September for details about registration, courses, and format for the fall offerings.

A Simple Rule for Retirement Saving

Learn a simple rule for saving and spending … and more on

Fidelity Investments Addresses Concerns about Market Volatility

According to Fidelity Investments, during times of market volatility it’s important to have a plan for your investments — and stick to it. Read more here, or log on to NetBenefits to view Six Strategies for Volatile Markets.

It’s Not Too Late To Answer the Call to Health …

But time is running out! There are only 21 days left to complete the required health actions, start your journey toward well-being, and earn lower deductibles for 2016.

You must complete all of your health actions by September 30 to earn lower deductibles for 2016. Remember, you’ll need to record most, if not all, of your health actions on

For how-to information, view the tutorial or read Your Guide to Answering the Call to Health.

For inspiration, hear from a PC(USA) pastor who is here to tell his story — and continue leading a thriving ministry — largely because his secretary wouldn’t take no for an answer to her question, "Are you getting an annual physical?"

Grants Available for Qualifying Families of New College Freshmen

Grant applications continue to be accepted for the 2015-2016 academic year of the Transition-to-College Assistance Grant program, which helps eligible families of new college freshmen with transition expenses. A 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.

Hear from a grant recipient, the Reverend Dr. Carl Wilton, as he reflects on what the Assistance Program means to him and his family.

To apply, complete the application and return it to the Board at the address listed on the form.

Catch Cancer Early!

For men and women, September brings important cancer reminders: It’s both National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States. If it’s diagnosed early, however, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent. Ten years after diagnosis, 98 percent of early-diagnosed men remain alive.

Ovarian cancer kills more women than any other cancer of the reproductive system, according to the American Cancer Society. Risk factors include genetics, family history, age, infertility, use of hormone replacement therapy, and obesity.

When it comes protecting yourself against prostate cancer and ovarian cancer, the best defense is a good offense. Take the time to call your doctor and be proactive about your health. And remember, your annual preventive care checkup counts as a required health action for Call to Health.

Medical Plan Enrollment for Seminary Students Ends September 30

Annual Medical Plan enrollment for eligible seminary students began August 1 and will continue through September 30. For information about eligibility requirements and how to enroll, refer to the

For details about the Medical Plan, see the

If you have any questions about the medical coverage offered to qualified seminary students, please call the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN). You can also find information on the Board's website,

Learn more about getting control of your financial situation. You can find all 10 lessons of the Personal Finance Series on


Find upcoming seminars and locations

Members Can Apply Online for Optional Dental and Supplemental Death Coverage!

Mark your calendars: October 1 through November 13 is the annual enrollment period for the optional Dental and Supplemental Death Benefits plans. Members who are eligible for the plans can apply online through Benefits Connect, the Board’s secure benefits website, during the annual enrollment period. To register for Benefits Connect, follow the simple steps outlined on the site.

Note to employers: When your members apply online, you will receive a letter from the Board of Pensions indicating which members applied for the programs. These letters are generated daily.

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

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If you have comments or feedback on this newsletter, please let us know at

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

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