… for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Mark 16:8

We’re worried, maybe even scared, like the women who went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus and found that he was not there. They were scared. They had just seen their rabbi executed by the Roman ruler. Things seemed to be falling apart. They had to wonder if the Kingdom Jesus had promised wasn’t coming after all.

Too many Presbyterians talk of budget shortfalls and staff cuts and declining membership in our denomination as though things are falling apart. But we’re a resurrection people. We worship the Lord of new life. How can we be planning for our own decline? Such talk denies the transformative power of Jesus Christ.

Belief in resurrection carries certain requirements: to preach the Gospel, to follow the risen Lord Jesus Christ into the world. Obedience to the risen Lord requires a Kingdom agenda instead of our personal ones. God’s purpose for us is to do the work of the Kingdom. It’s up to us to make the plans for fulfilling that purpose — and change them as needed.

I think we’re afraid of the truth of the Gospel and what it means for our lives. We’re invested in our structures and institutions. We hold tightly to them. The resurrection throws all our assumptions out the window. We don’t know what to do when life no longer can be lived based on those assumptions.

But the future can never be the same as the past we remember so fondly. Instead of asking how we can hold onto the familiar, we might ask, “What should we stop doing?” It may be as simple as changing the Sunday school start time or as difficult as the recent bi-state merger of three congregations or the heart-wrenching shuttering of a generations-old church.

Maybe it is innovation in the Board’s programs to reach more people. Perhaps it is rethinking our denominational leadership structures. We are reformed and reforming.

In all cases, change brings anxiety. Perhaps the women were afraid, not of a body gone missing, but remembering Jesus had foretold it. He had defeated death and there was no turning back now, even if that meant conflict with civil and religious authorities. They had good reason to be fearful.

Like Mary, Mary, and Salome, our fear doesn’t stem from our doubts. Perhaps we are afraid that the news of our risen Lord is true!

Grace and peace,

The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer

"What Are We Afraid of?"
A sermon from Rev. Spencer based on Mark 16:1-8

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.

Last Call To Register for Benefits Connections!

Don’t miss this opportunity to preview 2019 benefits, explore the theological values that shape the Benefits Plan, and ask questions of Board leadership and staff at Benefits Connections. These one-day gatherings — for those who make or influence benefits decisions or manage benefits for church employers of all sizes — will be held around the country from April 11 through May 1.

Learn more about Benefits Connections, find out where we will be, and register online at pensions.org. If online registration for an event in your area has closed, please contact the Church Engagement team at 215-587-7588 to register by phone.

Cignabehavioral.com Has Moved to mycigna.com

Mycigna.com provides you and anyone in your household with easier access to Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services and resources. The first time you visit the new site, you will need to register:

  • Click Register Now.
  • Enter the personal information requested.
  • Confirm your identity (use pcusa for Primary Customer’s Employer ID).
  • Create a user ID and password. You will then use this user ID and password to log on each time you visit the site.

Note: As of April 1, you will be redirected to mycigna.com if you type cignabehavioral.com in your browser. Click Register for myCigna and follow the instructions above to register.

Use Market Volatility to Your Advantage

Have recent changes in the stock market made you feel apprehensive about your Retirement Savings Plan investments? Why not use uncertain times as a motivator to help ensure your investment strategy aligns with your goals?

According to Fidelity Investments Vice President Ann Dowd, CFP, "Market volatility should be a reminder for you to review your investments regularly and make sure you consider an investing strategy with exposure to different areas of the markets.”

In 6 Strategies for when Markets Become Volatile, Dowd offers sound advice to help keep perspective, stay disciplined, plan for a variety of markets, and perhaps consider a professionally managed solution during uncertain times. Rather than “focusing on the turbulence,” she notes that it makes more sense to concentrate on developing and maintaining a sound investing plan.

Visit fidelity.com/atwork and log on to your account to access performance and research tools, portfolio advisory services, and help with your investment strategy. Call 800-343-0860 to speak with a Fidelity representative (reference plan no. 57887), or visit getguidance.fidelity.com/boardofpensions to schedule a one-on-one appointment with a Fidelity consultant.

Spring into Health and Well-Being

With warmer weather around the corner, this is the perfect time to answer the Call to Health.

Looking to do some spiritual spring cleaning? Check out Cheer Someone On. Need to fine-tune your finances? The Visit Fidelity’s Planning & Guidance Center challenge can help. Want to be more active? Get moving with the Weekly Exercise Challenge. You’ll also find new challenges, including Stick to a Bedtime Routine, Stand Up and Stretch, Financially Prepare for the Unexpected, and more, beginning later this month.

Want some extra support? Ignite Your Life coaching programs can help you make positive changes — and stick with them. Participate by live and recorded webinars or one-on-one telephone coaching and earn 300 points for each coaching challenge completed.

Whatever your goals, you’ll find Call to Health challenges and Ignite Your Life coaching programs to support you in all areas of well-being: spiritual, health, financial, and vocational. And remember, spring is a new beginning!

*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.

Well-Being Retreat 2018 To Emphasize Contemplative Experience

They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season.

(Psalm 1:3)

Since it was first introduced three years ago, Well-Being Retreat has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees. In addition to praise for the retreat, participants suggested that more opportunities for rest, reflection, and renewal in the schedule might enhance the experience. And we listened!

Free time and space for silent retreat are now woven into the agenda, so that participants can more thoughtfully absorb various elements of the retreat — including workshops, fellowship, worship, and conversation with colleagues in ministry — as they explore the spiritual, health, financial, and vocational aspects of wholeness.

All active Benefits Plan members and retirees (and spouses) are invited to attend Well-Being Retreat 2018 (August 20-22) at Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina. Online registration will open in early June. Look for more information on pensions.org as program details are finalized.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Is April 28

Unused or expired prescription drugs can cause accidental poisoning and overdose, making proper disposal of medications a critical personal and public safety issue. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was created by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to provide a safe and convenient way to dispose of prescription drugs. This year’s event will be Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To locate authorized collection sites, go to deatakeback.com.

Many communities also hold take back programs. Check with your local police department to find out if there is a program in your area. You can also ask your pharmacist.

If there are no DEA-authorized collections sites near you and your community does not have a take back program, you can safely dispose of most, but not all, medications at home by following these guidelines.

Highlighted E-Learning

Members, treasurers, and administrators may now view the Tax Tips for Members & Employers – Tax Year 2017 to understand recent tax law changes affecting income tax reporting and filing.


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