In fall 2014, the Board of Pensions adopted a two-year business strategy. We had started to look at realigning our mission with the changing church, and we needed to set forth a path. We saw the path leading to 2017, when we would mark 300 years of serving those who serve the Church. It seemed like a good place for a new beginning.

Today, we’re looking out on the second year of that two-year strategy with a lot of excitement. In this new year, we’ll introduce benefits and processes that we believe will help the Church to better equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Eph 4:12).

Caring for the folks who serve our Church has been a priority for American Presbyterians from the beginning. The first synod held its first meeting in Philadelphia in 1717 — and establishment of the Fund for Pious Uses was on the agenda. Institutions and mechanisms changed through the centuries, but the commitment to caring for those who serve the Church has remained constant.

The Benefits Plan we have today honors that commitment, and parts of the plan have served us well. But since reunion in 1983, the plan has covered fewer church workers every year. Obviously, we can’t keep this up.

So, the Board went out exploring in 2015. We talked to thousands of people across the Church and asked them, “How do we serve in a way that builds the Church?” We took what we heard and drew up action items for 2016. Now is when we start checking those items off. We’re going to be ready to enter the next 300 years of caring for church workers with a renewed mission to serve more, serve better, and serve the Church.

We’ll have one plan with a benefits package based on fundamental values for installed pastors, but it’s also going to provide employers with enough choices to help them bring more church workers into the plan.

To anchor our work, we developed A Theology of Benefits. It reminds us that God wishes shalom for all of us. Shalom is the flourishing of life, life abundant. It’s about wholeness. In the new Benefits Plan, we’ll be taking a more holistic approach, one that takes in spiritual, physical and emotional, financial, and vocational well-being. All things that are important in the care of those who serve in all forms of ministry.

We’re looking out on a year of transformation here at the Board, one we’re confident will benefit congregations, employing organizations, and those they employ — installed pastors, other teaching elders, and all other employees. After all, how we treat church servants should be a distinct 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.

Reminder: New Behavioral Health Network

January 1 marked the beginning of an expanded behavioral health network for the active Medical Plan PPO. If you are a member in treatment with a behavioral health provider, be sure to alert your provider of the change in network from Cigna Behavioral Health to Highmark for claims purposes. If you are an administrator, please check that your covered members are aware of the change.

For more information about the plan’s behavioral health benefits, refer to Guide to Your Healthcare Benefits 2016, contact Highmark at 888-835-2959, or call the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) and speak with a service representative.

Always Use the Latest Version of Board Resources

The Board has recently updated important resources for 2016, including

Board resources are updated frequently, so always make sure you’re working from the latest version. You can find the most up-to-date versions in Available Resources on pensions.org.

Are You Using BoardLink?

BoardLink is the Board’s online payment system for churches, other employing organizations, and individuals. Whether you’re a church administrator or a plan member, you can pay Board invoices, including your monthly cost for medical coverage, securely online.

Enroll in BoardLink and you’ll be able to

  • make a payment or set up future payments while checking your bill online;
  • get monthly email reminders when your invoice is ready to view online;
  • view the status and history of electronic payments; and
  • eliminate paper invoices and checks.

If you have questions concerning BoardLink or need further assistance with the enrollment process, please contact Member Services at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN), select option #4, and speak with a billing representative or email us at memberservices@pensions.org.

Call to Health Website Kicks Off

All active Medical Plan members, including those with Highmark or Anthem coverage, are invited to try out the new Call to Health website — and begin working toward better health and well-being and lower deductibles for 2017!

The new site is easy to use. Go to calltohealth.org, and follow these simple steps:

  1. Click Get started. Call to Health asks for your personal information — one time only — to identify you as a plan member.
  2. Click Sign In. The first time you sign in, you'll see a welcome screen. Here you'll create your sign-in (user) name and password.
  3. Try out the site! Move around the site by choosing tiles (the rectangular blocks with graphics and topics) that interest you and exploring the navigation links across the top of the page.

The new site is social, so you can engage in fun challenges with colleagues to keep yourself motivated. Take steps now to answer the call, and see this mailer for details.

Updated Tax Tips Web Module Coming Soon

Tax Tips for Members and Churches will be available at Board University later this month. This annual resource helps active and retired teaching elders, treasurers, and churches understand recent tax law changes that affect income tax reporting and filing. The module will contain links to other resources, including The Clergy Housing Allowance Web module, Tax Advantages of the 403(b)(9) Retirement Savings Plan, and How To Protect the Tax-Free Status of Death Benefits.

It’s January — Make Time for Life’s Big 'To Do's'

The start of a new year typically is a time of reflection and renewal. It’s also when many people commit to getting organized, trying something new, or tackling some big to do's. Now is the perfect time to add to your checklist — and then work on — a very important item: making or updating your will.

For motivation, hear from an interim pastor on one takeaway from a Board University seminar she attended.

For the Good of Others … and Your Health

Doing for others carries health benefits. That has been borne out for decades, through numerous research projects. Lending a hand can build self-esteem, act as an antidote to stress and depression, and, some researchers say, translate into improved cardiovascular health.

If you’ve got some time to give, and you’ve been thinking about volunteering, this would be a good time to act. The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of National Service is set for January 18, bringing volunteer opportunities to the forefront. Whether through your church or child’s school or the local newspaper, you’re sure to find a need you can fill. And one day of service can open the door to a regular arrangement.

So lend a hand, help others, and reap some benefits of your own. Remember, we are all called to health!

Highlighted E-Learning

View Effective Salary: Why It’s So Important To Get It Right for a helpful refresher on how effective salary is used to calculate benefits and dues for church workers and their families.

Seminars

Find upcoming seminars and locations

Make Sure Your Personal and Beneficiary Information Is Correct

The beginning of a new year is a great time to make sure your contact, dependent, and beneficiary information is up to date. You can review your information by logging on to Benefits Connect.

With Benefits Connect, you can also view, save, and print a current Statement of Benefits, request a retirement packet, use secure calculators to estimate your pension and death benefits, and more.

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 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.