While dues paid on behalf of active members remain an important source of funding for the Board of Pensions, earnings from our portfolio assets are the primary means by which we keep our promises. Investment returns account for an ever growing percentage of the benefits paid. The covenant to support our members financially requires that we maintain a diversified and global investment strategy.

The Board invests in 99 unique strategies from all corners of the world. At our last Board of Directors meeting, the Investment Committee approved a new strategy, the Leaders Strategy, managed by Impax Asset Management Group. This strategy is well researched and has outperformed the MSCI All Country World Index for the last five years. It adds an important dimension to our global diversification.

But the matter of stewardship applies not only to our financial assets, but also to God’s creation; “... The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it” (Psalm 24). The Impax Leaders Strategy, in addition to out-performing the global indices, is a fossil fuel-free portfolio with investments in resource efficiency and environmental markets.

We committed $100 million, or about 1.2 percent, of our $8.6 billion Balanced Investment Portfolio. This investment strikes an important balance between superior return for our members and socially responsible investing, which is about being caretakers of all that God has given us.

No other PC(USA) entity has ever made a commitment of this magnitude to climate solutions, but it is only one of many initiatives underway throughout the Church. We worked with the other five General Assembly agencies to develop the Collaborative Agenda on Environmental Stewardship, which the 222nd General Assembly (2016) unanimously endorsed.

The Collaborative Agenda holds that we share a common call to care for God’s creation, to make sure that “all people and all of creation experience sufficiency in the resources they need to thrive, not only now, but for generations to come.” It calls attention to churchwide efforts around this call, and outlines resources of the agencies that are available to congregations, mid councils, and other mission and ministry groups.

Individuals who wish to participate in the Impax investments can now choose that option in their accounts with the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Working with Fidelity, the Board began offering the Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund on January 1, 2017. I have allocated some of my own retirement funds to this exciting new option.

Sound investment management is essential to the Board’s mission and we will never falter in its pursuit. We work daily to ensure the long-term financial stability of the plan. Environmental stewardship of the Earth — God’s creation and God’s gift to us — is no less critical to keeping our covenant for generations to come.

Grace and peace,


The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer
President

Welcome to Board Connections, a 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.

New Benefits Connect Features Are Here!

The Board of Pensions is excited to announce enhancements to Benefits Connect that make it easy, fast, and convenient for employers, members, retirees, and survivors to access benefits, update information, and more — online!

Employers can enroll new members, confirm or change salary information, and terminate employment online. The enhancements give members the ability to update contact information, enroll for benefits, and report a qualifying life event (add eligible dependents and change/elect benefits), as well as add/change beneficiaries and allocations among beneficiaries. Retirees and survivors can update contact information and add/change beneficiary designations and allocations among beneficiaries.

For details and information on registering, see New Benefits Connect Features Are Here!

Additional enhancements to Benefits Connect are planned for 2017 and will be announced as they become available.

Pension Plan Experience Apportionment Effective July 1

As reported in the Spring 2017 Board Bulletin, a 2 percent experience apportionment for the Pension Plan is effective 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. Read more on pensions.org.

Service at the Board: Something Old, Something New

Service at the Board of Pensions is a matter of both tradition and culture. When Presbyterians established the Fund for Pious Uses in Philadelphia in 1717, a tradition of serving those who serve the Church was born. Today, the tradition lives on in the Board, where service lies at the heart of our culture.

Long-tenured service representatives have always provided caring, thoughtful guidance to employers and members who call us at our Philadelphia offices. And we hold fast to that personal service, answering every call with, “How may I serve you?” At the same time, we continue to expand Benefits Connect, our benefits website, to enhance online, 24-7 service to employers and members. So call us at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, and speak to a service representative. Or, take a look at what you can do on Benefits Connect, and log on … anytime.

Board Co-Sponsors Historical Society Event

The Board of Pensions is helping the Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) celebrate our Presbyterian roots by co-sponsoring A Taste of History. The Board and PHS are based in Philadelphia, where the first synod met 300 years ago. A Taste of History is a fundraiser May 4 at PHS. Tickets are $35 per person ($30 if purchased before April 15). The event will mark the return to the PHS rear garden of six Alexander Stirling Calder statues of early Presbyterian leaders, including Francis Makemie, the first moderator of the first presbytery in the America colonies. The presbytery first met in 1706, in Philadelphia.

Time To Think about Big Tent!

Registration is open for this summer’s Big Tent conference, scheduled July 6-8 on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. The theme is Race, Reconciliation, and the Reformation. Through plenary events, Bible study, workshops, and worship, participants will be challenged and renewed by the power of the Gospel message to overcome current realities of anxiety, division, and inequality.

Registration is $395, including three nights’ accommodations. The commuter rate is $225. Details, including those on additional packages, are available on the Accommodations & Meals page. Interested in attending? It’s recommended that you review the schedule of events before registering.

Facing Racism Resources Available

The 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) directed its six agencies “to jointly formulate a communications plan to share antiracism resources.” As a result, the agencies, including the Board of Pensions, launched Facing Racism, to produce and promote anti-racism resources. Resources are disseminated through facingracism.org. Regular updates on newly available materials and calls to action are available by subscription.

Visit Fidelity’s Planning & Guidance Center

Did you know that if you participate in the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP), you have access to online personalized planning expertise from Fidelity Investments, the RSP record keeper?

Log on to NetBenefits (fidelity.com/atwork) and select Planning at the top of the page. Then click Plan for Retirement to get started. By answering just a few questions, you’ll be able to

  • estimate how much income you may have — or need — in retirement;
  • receive guidance to help you get or stay on track; and
  • create a retirement plan in minutes.

If you have questions about the RSP, call Fidelity at 800-343-0860 (mention plan #57887) or call the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) and speak with a service representative. Not participating in the RSP yet? Read Why participate in the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)?

Well-Being Retreat 2017: Rooted in Wholeness

From the Board of Pensions’ Theology of Benefits, we know that the desire for health and wholeness is at the heart of the Gospel call. By providing benefits, programs, and resources that promote wholeness and sustain well-being, the Church helps its servants devote their best gifts and energies to God’s kingdom.

For these reasons, the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Foundation come together in collaborative partnership to offer Well-Being Retreat 2017. Rooted in wholeness, and open to all Benefits Plan members, the retreat will take place August 21-23, 2017, at Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center, in breathtaking Lake Tahoe, Nevada. (Note: if you are unable to access the website, please try again with a different internet browser.)

Plan members are invited to more deeply root their lives and ministries through participation in worship, fellowship, and workshops focusing on the spiritual, health, vocational, and financial dimensions of well-being. Sabbath and renewal, nutrition and physical wellness, discerning retirement and leaving well, financial planning, and generosity are among the program themes under development.

For further details, please see Save the Date for Well-Being Retreat 2017 on pensions.org.

Give Call to Health Challenges a Try

Call to Health* offers challenges in all dimensions of well-being — spiritual, health, financial, and vocational — with challenges changing quarterly. This week, two new spiritual challenges begin: Practice Forgiveness and Beginner Flexibility (yoga).

It’s no surprise that practicing yoga yields benefits mentally, physically, and spiritually, but did you know that forgiving people has similar effects? Holding onto a sense of injury or injustice can lead to anger, anxiety, and depression, which in turn can elevate stress, increase blood pressure, and even compromise your immune system. Forgiveness is a healing experience that can improve your well-being. Check it out!

Other new challenges at calltohealth.org follow:

  • Quiet Mind, Better Sleep
  • Take a Hike
  • Carb Swap
  • Celebrate Earth Month
  • Plant a Garden

Covered spouses are welcome, so you can challenge each other and earn $100 Amazon gift cards! And members can lower deductibles for themselves and their families.

*Call to Health is available to members and their covered spouses enrolled in the active Medical Plan (the Highmark PPO or EPO); it is not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.

Highlighted E-Learning

Members, treasurers, and administrators can view the Tax Year 2016 Edition of Tax Tips for Members and Churches to understand recent tax law changes affecting income tax reporting and filing.

You can find more helpful resources at the Board's Tax Resource Center.

Seminars

Find upcoming seminars and locations

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