… the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

1 Cor 9:14

The Apostle Paul was referring to food and shelter when he wrote this in the first century. In 21st century America, making a living must include access to healthcare and provision for income security.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, our goal should never be to limit hours nor structure contracts so that benefits are denied, but rather to creatively work to be the best employers possible, by meeting the needs of our ministers and employees as faithfully as we can. Addressing the necessary concerns of life results in well-being, life abundant.

The Board of Pensions helps congregations promote well-being in two ways. The first is by administering the benefits as defined in The Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). These benefits include pension and retirement savings plans and medical, death, and disability coverage. The various plan provisions are designed to work together to protect members and their families in active service and in retirement.

Secondly, the Board helps congregations promote spiritual, health, financial, and vocational well-being through voluntary programs. Education programs include CREDO, Board University, Well-Being Retreat, and seminars to prepare for retirement. The Assistance Program offers emergency financial assistance, monthly income and housing supplements in retirement, educational debt relief, sabbatical support, and adoption grants.

The well-being of ministers, in particular, is central to the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). When ministers are well in all aspects of life, they’re at their best. They are able to devote their best gifts to ministry, contributing to God’s mission through the health and vitality of the Church.

Ministers move in and out of calls, and therefore benefits continuity is important. Adequate pensions depend on long-term, continuous Pension Plan participation. A minister has to be in the Pension Plan for at least 20 years to be eligible for the Assistance Program’s full income and housing supplements in retirement.

Of course, not all who respond to God’s call serve as ministers of the Word and Sacrament. Every employee of a congregation or church organization deserves the same dignity and protection as our ministers. We celebrate the fact that the redesigned Benefits Plan, effective this year, has enabled churches and other employers to provide benefits to thousands more employees.

The Board of Pensions is much more than a retirement plan, a provider of financial security, or a healthcare payer. The Board is the means through which the denomination cares for those who answer God’s call to ministry.

Every offering provided through the Board of Pensions is designed to bring greater value at a lower cost when compared with what is available in the commercial market. More importantly, all benefits are structured to reflect the values of the PC(USA). When it comes to healthcare emergencies, disability claims, or financial crises, the Board’s advocacy for members is a profound expression of our community’s care for each other.

Jesus said that “the laborer deserves to be paid.” (Luke 10:7) When congregations and other employers provide just compensation for their employees, they provide a witness to the Lord and are living by the Gospel. Our employment practices should be a witness to Jesus Christ, the head of the Church.

Grace and peace,

The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer

Annual Enrollment Starts October 30

It’s almost here! This year’s annual enrollment is October 30 through November 17. Annual enrollment is your only chance to review and elect benefits coverage for 2018 (unless you have a qualifying life event during the year). To get ready, go to Benefits Connect to review the coverage you have now and consider whether it will continue to meet your needs next year. For example, did any of your circumstances change during the last year that might affect your benefits needs?

Look for annual enrollment information mailed to your home, in your email, and posted on pensions.org later this month. Then, starting October 30, use Benefits Connect to view your available 2018 benefits and costs, and enroll or make changes to your coverage effective January 1.

If you’re not yet registered for Benefits Connect, see Benefits Connect Quick Start Guide for Employees.

Mark Your Calendar

  • October 30-November 17: Active members log on to Benefits Connect to review 2018 benefits and costs and make their elections.
  • November 17: Deadline for members to elect 2018 benefits.

Employers: Final Chance To Submit Employer Agreements!

Employers, you only have until October 13 to review, update, and submit your Employer Agreement for 2018. Your selections determine the coverage available — and costs — for employees when they elect benefits during annual enrollment October 30-November 17, 2017.

Need more information or help? View the Guide to Selecting 2018 Benefits. Read more on pensions.org.

Praise Your Pastor!

October is Clergy Appreciation Month, a time to let your pastor know you appreciate his or her spiritual leadership. One particularly meaningful way to express your gratitude is to make a gift in his or her honor to the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions, which provides financial help to PC(USA) pastors and other church workers in need.

Visit pensions.org to learn how the Assistance Program makes a difference in grant recipients’ lives.

Cross the Finish Line!

Time is running out to complete Call to Health!*

Medical Plan members: To reduce your 2018 individual and family deductibles by one-third, complete the required challenges and Level 1 (1,000 points) by November 17, 2017. You also will earn a $100 Amazon gift card when you reach Level 2 (2,000 points).

Covered spouses: You are encouraged to participate in Call to Health, too! You will earn a $100 Amazon gift card when you reach Level 1 (1,000 points), including completing the required challenges by November 17.

Check out the varied challenges at calltohealth.org, and finish strong!

*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.

A Gradual Conversion

New Castle Presbytery’s Donna Scully didn’t become a Call to Health champion overnight. Her conversion from “subconscious objector” to “totally championing the program” happened gradually. But as a result of embracing Call to Health, she — and her family — have experienced real, tangible benefits. Read more on pensions.org.

'Power of Small Amounts' Can Earn You Call to Health Points

Year-end is a good time to review your long-term saving strategy to be sure that your retirement planning choices have kept pace with your life. Have you changed jobs since last year? Increased or decreased household income? Changed your mind about when to retire? Fidelity Investments, record keeper for the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP), offers a retirement readiness checkup and a Power of Small Amounts interactive calculator to help you see how even a small change in contribution amount can affect your long-term savings.

Earn Call to Health Points for 'Power of Small Amounts'

If you are covered by the Medical Plan, you can earn 25 Call to Health points just for using Fidelity’s Power of Small Amounts tool by November 17, 2017. Once you’ve done that, just visit calltohealth.org, join the Power of Small Amounts challenge, and report that you’ve completed it by November 17 to be sure you get your points!

Learn More about the RSP

To learn more about the RSP, visit pensions.org or read the RSP Benefits Overview. You can also read this document about enrolling in and managing the RSP. If you still have questions, call Fidelity at 800-343-0860 (mention plan #57887) or the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) and speak with a service representative.

National Retirement Security Week Is October 15-21

In honor of National Retirement Security Week, October 15-21, check out these tips for a healthy retirement. Learn more about National Retirement Security Week here.

Are You at Risk for Breast Cancer?

The best way to fight breast cancer is through early detection, as it’s usually curable early on. And breast cancer can occur with no symptoms. That’s why you should have annual preventive care visits with your doctor and get the scheduled testsat no cost to covered members of the Medical Plan.*

  • When you see your network gynecologist for your annual well visit, there is no copay, deductible, or copayment for the visit or scheduled tests. (Plus, your visit satisfies a requirement of Call to Health and you earn points.)
  • If you have symptoms and visit a gynecologist for treatment, your visit is considered a sick visit, and you’ll be responsible for a copay. (The visit is only considered to be a well visit, or preventive care, if you go to the doctor with no symptoms.)

If you have any of any of the following symptoms in your breasts, see your doctor right away: a painless lump or mass, swelling, a change in size or shape, skin irritation or inflammation, a change in skin texture, pain or tenderness, discharge, or enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit. Don’t wait!

*Those enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan also have preventive care benefits under their plans, but coverage details may differ. Consult your plan’s provisions for details.

Highlighted E-Learning

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


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