I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice.
     — 2 Tim 1:5

Like Timothy, I learned much of my faith from my grandmother. We spent many summer weeks together in Montreat. The place and the people are linked for our family. My children are fifth-generation Montreaters, and it is that special Presbyterian place that is our definition of home.

As Christians, we mentor others in their journey of faith. As Presbyterians, we make spiritual growth in our children and youth a priority. That’s especially challenging with teenagers. They doubt their parents. They question their faith. They ask who they are, and then worry their peers won’t accept them.

Just listen to teenagers who’ve participated in a Montreat Youth Conference. High school students report that they can be themselves during the weeklong gatherings, held every summer at Montreat Conference Center. No one judges. They are reassured moving among hundreds of other young people of faith. As one young woman said, being in worship with so many teenagers is “very special.”

The tradition of spiritual fellowship is being passed down at these youth conferences, which attract 6,000 young people every summer. Teenagers feel connected to the “connectional church.” And that is so important to making sure that our community of faith thrives “so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere” (2 Thess 3:1).

At the Board of Pensions, we support church workers so they may devote themselves to the work of God’s kingdom. I’m speaking about church workers of today and those to come. We honor the tenet of generational equity, meaning no one group of Benefits Plan members should fare materially better or worse than another. We steward the resources in our care accordingly.

Favorable investment experience, predictable actuarial experience, and maintenance of contingency reserves — all contribute to the financial stability of the Board’s plans and programs and to our ability to grant experience apportionments. We carefully balance each so the Board is able to provide benefits for every generation of plan members.

We will spend the week of July Fourth in Montreat with four generations of our family. We will hike, play, square dance, and worship. We will be at the parade and hug longtime friends. The following week, we will give our house over to our congregation’s youth group, and so the traditions continue ….

… we your people…will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
     — Ps 79:13

Grace and peace,


The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer
President

Welcome to Board Connections, a newsletter from 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 Meeting Includes Dues Actions, Report of Strong Investment Returns

The Board of Directors of The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) held its regular summer meeting June 24, during which it approved a medical dues increase and a stand-alone death and disability dues decrease. Directors also heard a report of the 2017 performance to date of the Balanced Investment Portfolio, the investment fund for the Pension and Death and Disability plans, among other funds. On May 31, 2017, the portfolio had a market value of $9.1 billion. Read The Board Bulletin for details.

Salaries in the Parish Ministry 2017 Salary Study Available

The most recent Salaries in the Parish Ministry Salary Study was published June 16. View the pensions.org article and the study.

Pension Plan Experience Apportionment Takes Effect

As reported on pensions.org, a 2 percent experience apportionment for the Pension Plan was 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.

The Pension Plan’s funded status as of December 31, 2016, was 123.7 percent. The experience apportionment enables members to share in the favorable experience of the plan and provides some protection against inflation. To learn more about the experience apportionment process, see Will the Board grant a Pension Plan experience apportionment? on pensions.org.

Participants Give High Marks to Benefits Connections

The inaugural Benefits Connections events received high marks from participants for contributing to their on-the-job effectiveness. The Board of Pensions hosted the one-day, benefits-focused gatherings in 10 cities nationwide this spring.

Benefits Connections are part of a two-stage Board strategy to engage the Church. The second stage will be the Mid Council Leaders Gathering, scheduled October 15-17, 2017, in St. Louis in collaboration with the Office of the General Assembly.

Is Your Investment Strategy Right for You?

Will your retirement savings investment strategy keep you on track to retire when you want with the amount of income you need throughout your retirement years? The term asset mix refers to how you invest your savings across the three basic investment types: stocks, fixed income or bonds, and short-term investments. Learn more by viewing What asset mix is right for you?

Spotlighting Environmentally Responsible Investing

Since announcing a significant expansion of its commitment to environmentally responsible investing, the Board of Pensions has received calls from Benefits Plan members and retirees interested in the Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund.

The Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund Institutional Class (PGINX) is available through the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (RSP). The Board made this option available through the RSP, effective in January 2017.

“RSP participants can invest in the fund either by changing their investment allocation — that is, rebalancing current investments — or directing new contributions to this option on the Fidelity NetBenefits site, fidelity.com/atwork,” said Donald A. Walker III, Vice President and Deputy Chief Investment Officer at the Board.

All employees of PC(USA) churches and other affiliated employers are eligible to participate in the RSP, regardless of the number of hours they work per week, if their employer offers it. Employees do not need to be enrolled for any other Benefits Plan coverage. If they are interested in contributing to the RSP — regardless of their investment interests — they should speak to their employers. Information on the RSP is also available on pensions.org.

Members and retirees who are interested in environmentally responsible investing may want to follow the work of Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI), a committee responsible for implementing General Assembly policies on socially responsible investing.

The information contained in this article should not be considered financial or investment advice. You should consult with a professional financial adviser to determine investments that are best for your individual financial situation.

Employers Begin Selecting 2018 Benefits Soon

In mid-July, Benefits Connect will be available for employers to review, model, and/or update their Employer Agreements for 2018 benefits selections. Employers will

  • review and/or refine benefit groups (who is eligible);
  • select benefits (what benefits to offer); and
  • review costs and contributions (how much employers and employees will pay).

A special pensions.org section — Selecting 2018 Benefits — will launch this month, to offer guidance for employers in making these decisions. The section will provide web tutorials, an overview of key considerations, information on the importance of defining benefit groups, case studies, and more.

The deadline for employers to submit Employer Agreements for 2018 is October 13 — two weeks later than last year. Employers may model benefits and cost scenarios through Benefits Connect as many times as they would like until October 13. Annual enrollment for members will be October 30-November 17.

Employers who have questions about the Benefits Plan or annual enrollment should call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN).

From Grumbling to Gratitude

The Reverend Dr. Clinton “Clint” Cottrell, pastor and head of staff at Cypress Lake Presbyterian Church, Fort Myers, Florida, had no symptoms when he went for his annual preventive exam, a requirement of Call to Health* — an initiative he used to grumble about until a routine lab test may have saved his life.

Clint credits his participation in Call to Health with the early detection and treatment of his prostate cancer. “I thank God for Call to Health and the gift of life abundant. I am so blessed!”

Get — and Record — Your Vision Exam for Call to Health!

Summer is a good time to schedule an exam to check your vision and eye health. Take advantage of your vision benefit through the active Medical Plan (PPO and EPO) and pay only a $25 copay (no deductible) for your annual eye exam with a VSP network provider. What’s more, completing an eye exam is worth 50 Call to Health points* when you record your visit!

Eye exams can reveal early signs of eye health problems, such as glaucoma and cataracts, and more general health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and risk of stroke. So if you’re due for an eye exam, schedule your appointment today!

*Call to Health is available to members and their 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.

What’s New for Well-Being Retreat 2017?

The program for Well-Being Retreat 2017 features many of our most popular workshops and speakers, along with a number of new topics and program enhancements!

Learn more in the pensions.org article What’s New for Well-Being Retreat 2017? Or visit Well-Being Retreat at pensions.org for more information, including registration details, links to the program agenda, speaker profiles, and frequently asked questions.

Take a step back from your daily routine to explore the spiritual, health, financial, and vocational aspects of well-being at Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, August 21, 22, and 23.

There’s still time to reserve your spot, but space is limited. Don’t miss out! Registration for Well-Being Retreat 2017 closes July 31.

Highlighted E-Learning

To learn about the 2017 challenges and how to navigate calltohealth.org, view the updated web module Answering the Call to Health.

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.