There is a pencil and ink drawing by famous fresco artist Ben F. Long IV hanging in the stairwell at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, where I studied. This larger-than-life work depicts an apostle ascending the stairs two at a time to an upper room on the day of Pentecost. Perhaps he is running to tell others to join the crowds or perhaps to rejoice in his own astonishing gift.

Students see this apostle climbing the stairs of discipleship as they move between classes. God has called them to an upward journey that requires urgency and exertion. But it is a journey for which God has given each of them the gifts they need.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit empowered us to live in community with each other, to follow the path of Jesus and be his “witnesses … to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We are called to share responsibility for the well-being of every individual. “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” Paul writes to the Galatians.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has based the Benefits Plan on the nature of Christian community. The plan is designed so that the burden of caring for church workers is shared. Those with the greatest resources help support those with the least. Here at the Board, we call this the principle of community nature.

Congregations and other PC(USA)-affiliated employers contribute toward retirement, death, and disability benefits based on a percentage of what they pay their plan members. Every pension is accrued at the greater of actual salary or median such that lower paid members receive a greater replacement of income without diminishing those whose compensation is higher.

Medical dues reflect shared risk and economies of scale. Members share in the cost of medical benefits through deductibles tied to a percentage of salary, thereby providing greater protection for those with lesser means.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gathered us to be the Church. As such, our employment practices should be a witness to Jesus Christ, the head of the Church. In upholding community nature, we live out the Gospel call. We show the world the kind of community that supports the well-being of all.

Grace and peace,

The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer

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 Receives Limelight Award for Inspiring Change

The Board of Pensions has received a 2017 Limelight Award for inspiring change and driving positive results with Call to Health, the Board’s health and well-being initiative. Presented by Limeade, the wellness technology company that supports Call to Health, the award showcases an organization that has used wellness technology to successfully engage participants and demonstrate significant change in well-being results. We are grateful to the thousands of members who have answered the call.

Guidance and Call to Health Points: Just a Click Away

A new Call to Health challenge is now available to active Medical Plan members. The challenge, called Visit Fidelity’s Planning & Guidance Center, is designed to promote financial well-being. Read more on

*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.

Employers: Get Ready for Annual Enrollment

2018 Benefits Selections: Employer Agreements Open in July

It’s nearly time for employers to begin the annual enrollment process of updating or creating their Employer Agreements to select benefits to offer employees for 2018. This involves reviewing and determining who should be covered (and when), what benefits to offer, and how much employers and employees will pay toward the cost of those benefits. The Employer Services team is available to assist in making these important decisions, and the Board will also provide web tutorials, a dedicated microsite, and other print and online resources.

Late June: Web tutorials Considerations for Selecting Benefits: Building Your Employer Agreement and Creating Your Employer Agreement.

Early July: The launch of Selecting 2018 Benefits, on

Mid-July: Print and online versions of guides to selecting benefits and completing the Employer Agreement.

July 17-October 13: Employers log on to Benefits Connect to begin modeling and building their Employer Agreements for 2018.

October 13: Deadline for employers to submit their final 2018 Employer Agreements on Benefits Connect.

October 30-November 17: Annual enrollment for members to elect 2018 benefits.

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

Well-Being Retreat 2017: Registration Now Open!

Don’t miss this opportunity to discover new approaches to spiritual, health, financial, and vocational well-being … to live in wholeness as the body of Christ. Register today for Well-Being Retreat 2017!

Customize your retreat experience by selecting the educational workshops, guided activities, and consultations that best support your journey to well-being. Mark your calendar now and make plans to join us Monday through Wednesday, August 21-23, 2017, at Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

Take a sneak peek at what’s in store for you at Zephyr Point in this video, and learn more in the article Registration Now Open: Well-Being Retreat 2017.

Nurturing a Healthy Inner Resolve

Life is full of ups and downs. According to a growing body of research, resilience is what gets you through the tough times, and it can be cultivated as part of the call to wholeness — to live life abundantly.

Resilience is your ability to bounce back from setbacks — to not let challenges or disappointments overwhelm you. It’s a sense of perspective and self-awareness that grows over time as you encounter and work through difficulties.

Research also shows a link between a strong inner resolve and improved health.

What You Can Do

Positive emotions fuel resilience. To bounce back, you need to create opportunities to experience those good feelings.

  • Take care of yourself. Eat well, be active, and get enough sleep. Complete Call to Health.
  • Be present in the moment. Try mindfulness meditation or deep-breathing exercises. They can help center your thoughts and create new perspectives.
  • Reflect on how you’ve handled past challenges. Consider what possibilities exist now, in this moment.
  • Open up. Share yourself, and your feelings, with family and friends.

And if you’re down for too long, reach out for extra help. Talk to a professional counselor using the Employee Assistance Program, or join a support group.* Be well, and bring your best gifts to ministry!

*The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to active members of the Medical Plan, their eligible family members, and anyone living in the active member’s household; it is not available to Medicare Supplement enrollees.

Rising healthcare costs are a concern for everyone. This article is part of a series that can help you to understand and limit your costs while obtaining quality care.

Tips for Managing Your Prescription Drug Costs

Prescription drug costs are rising faster than any other healthcare costs, driving up Medical Plan expenses. You are encouraged to take steps to help reduce your prescription drugs costs — for yourself and the plan.

  • Check the 2017 Drug Exclusion List. Certain drugs are not covered by the plan because less expensive, clinically proven alternatives are available. Share this list with your doctor so you can try an alternative, if appropriate. If you fill a prescription for a drug that is excluded from coverage, you’ll pay the full (unreduced) cost of the drug.
  • Ask for a generic rather than brand-name drug, if appropriate. Generic drugs generally cost about 80 percent less than brand-name drugs.
  • When trying a new medication, order a small supply. Have your doctor write a one-week script and a 30- or 90-day script, as appropriate. If the new medication is not effective and you need to try another drug, filling an order for seven pills rather than 30 reduces waste and saves money.
  • Use OptumRx home delivery service for recurring prescriptions. You’ll pay less than if you fill the same prescription at your local pharmacy.
  • Know your benefits! Take a moment to review Your Prescription Drug Benefits in Guide to Your Healthcare Benefits 2017. It describes more ways to reduce your prescription drug costs.

Did You Know ...

A qualifying life event is an event in the life of a member or eligible family member that allows for a corresponding change in Benefits Plan coverage during the year outside of annual enrollment.

Log on to Benefits Connect and click on About Me on the home page to report a qualifying life event and request a corresponding benefits change.

Highlighted E-Learning

Learn the importance of the 30-Day Challenge with Lesson 1 of the Personal Finance Series.


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