One of the responsibilities and privileges of my role is representing the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on the boards of two important ecumenical organizations.

The first is the Church Benefits Association (CBA), an organization of 48 denominations, Catholic orders, and Jewish traditions. The purpose of CBA is to provide our organizations with mutual support, best practices, topical interest groups ranging from healthcare to church engagement, and, importantly, to work as a purchasing coalition.

Working together, CBA is able to negotiate terms that benefit all our members. Together, we are Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield’s largest customer. This gives us market leverage and is a primary reason our health plan costs have risen at a much slower pace than national averages. Recently, I was part of a joint Methodist-Presbyterian team that met with OptumRx to negotiate our expectations and terms for a new prescription drug contract.

The second organization is the Church Alliance (CA). The Church Alliance works to ensure that legislative and regulatory initiatives continue to fully address, protect, and support the unique nature of retirement and health benefits plans operated by churches, religious institutions, and affiliated organizations. Collectively, we represent the interests of over 1 million clergy.

In December, we were successful in getting the provisions of the Church Plan Clarification Act (CPCA) passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. While many elements are of a technical nature, the CPCA included important relief for churches in terms of Affordable Care Act mandates and reporting, definitive guidance in how we may group employees for compliance, flexibility for self-funded plans like ours in the PC(USA), and favorable provisions concerning church-sponsored retirement savings plans [403(b)].

Your Board of Pensions is working to improve the provisions of our own Retirement Savings Plan, bolstered by statutory protection of certain features. One change that I am pleased to mention is that the proposed Benefits Plan redesign includes offering our 403(b)(9) plan to all installed teaching elders, something that is not universal in our current structure.

Standing together with other communities of faith is inspiring work. These organizations encompass a dramatically wide range of theology. Despite that, we work in harmony, recognizing the importance of faith in each of our communities and the vital role the clergy play in serving their congregations.

This is indeed Kingdom work, where even the minutiae of contracts and legislation can offer a faithful witness to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace,


The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer
President

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.

Ernesto Badillo Award Recognizes Hospitality through Service

At its first quarterly employee gathering of the year, the Board of Pensions announced that it has established a special employee recognition award for Hospitality through Service honoring the work of the Reverend Ernesto Badillo Jr. For more information, read the article on pensions.org.

Watch for IRS Healthcare Information Forms from the Board

Under the Affordable Care Act, plan sponsors and some employers are required to report information about healthcare coverage offerings to the IRS. Plan members will receive a copy of the information that the Board reports to the IRS. Please check that the information you receive is accurate and keep it for your records.

For more information, read the article on pensions.org.

2015 Investment Review Available

The Board of Pensions 2015 Investment Review is available on pensions.org. The review addresses the investment results for the Board of Pensions Balanced Investment Portfolio for the period ended December 31, 2015.

'Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches' Updated

The Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches has been updated to provide guidance for the 2016 tax year. It is available on Benefits Connect, accessible from pensions.org. The Web module Tax Tips for Members & Churches has been updated as well. Tax Tips is in the Tax Resource Center of Board University, which can be reached from the Members & Employers menu on the pensions.org home page.

2015 'Tax Guide for Ministers' Available

The Tax Guide for Ministers, updated for the 2015 tax year, will be mailed to active and retired teaching elders in February. It is also available on Benefits Connect, accessible from pensions.org. The Web module Tax Tips for Members & Churches has been updated as well. Tax Tips is in the Tax Resource Center of Board University, which can be reached from the Members & Employers menu on the pensions.org home page.

America Saves Week: February 22-27, 2016

Celebrate America Saves Week by learning how a small change can make a big difference. Read more ...

Celebrate American Heart Month!

Every year about 525,000 Americans have a first heart attack. Although it may seem that everything from diet to stress takes a toll on our hearts, there are simple preventive steps you can take to have a healthier heart.

Watch the Reverend Dr. David McElrath tell his heart health story — and schedule your own preventive exam. Also consider joining one of the nutrition or exercise challenges at calltohealth.org. Through intentional action, such as participation in the Let’s Move! Challenge, make 2016 a year of better health and well-being for you and your family.

Your eligible preventive exam is 100 percent covered by the Medical Plan. For a detailed schedule of adult covered procedures, screenings, and immunizations and their insurance diagnostic codes, see the Preventive Care Benefits Overview at pensions.org. For information on covered screenings and immunizations, see the 2016 Preventive Schedule.

Highlighted E-Learning

Members, treasurers, and administrators may now view the Tax Year 2015 Edition of Tax Tips for Members & Churches to understand recent tax law changes affecting income tax reporting and filing.

Seminars

Find upcoming seminars and locations

Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches and Tax Guide for Ministers Are Available on Benefits Connect

Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches and Tax Guide for Ministers are available only on Benefits Connect. You can find links to each document in the Online Tools section of Benefits Connect.

The Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches for the 2016 tax year provides step-by-step wage reporting and withholding instructions and information about situations specific to filing various federal forms. Employing organizations whose billing address is in the United States and that are currently receiving a monthly invoice from the Board of Pensions can have one authorized Web representative registered for Benefits Connect.

The Tax Guide for Ministers for the 2015 tax year is available to members and employing organizations that are eligible for Benefits Connect. This guide provides recent tax information that teaching elders can review when preparing their federal income tax returns.

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

Follow the Board on Twitter. Like the Board on Facebook.

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 service representative.

We're looking for photos for possible use in future Board of Pensions communications!
We hope you'll share your favorite photos by sending them to photos@pensions.org.
Please note the name of your church, city, and state as well as a contact name in your email.
Keep in mind that submission of a photo to this email box constitutes permission to publish.