"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,"

Heb 12:1

Here at the Board, we are constantly reminded that we must take the long view. Endurance and perseverance are critical to ensuring that every one of our members is protected for the full measure of their lives. As our 300th year wound down, we sent out lapel pins that celebrated the founding in 1717 of the first American synod as well as the Fund for Pious Uses.

We had noticed that many of our retiring ministers were not leaving full-time calls but just sort of drifting away through fewer and fewer part-time hours. We wanted to find a way to celebrate their ministry and have at least some agency of the national Church thank them for their service. We expanded our conversation to all church workers and therefore decided to send a gold pin to all of our retired members.

That got us thinking about the active members, who now number far fewer than the retired members. Always looking for a way to emphasize our connected nature, we decided to send all of them pins too, but in silver. We will then send a gold pin to members as they retire, along with a letter from me thanking them for their ministry.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We have received many thank-you letters and emails. The most touching of those letters, often written with a shaking hand, say that we are the first to thank them and that they assumed no one had noticed their ministry.

Of course, we had a few complaints about a “waste of money,” or that “lapel pins are old-fashioned.”

As to costs, the pins are not expensive when ordered in bulk and the entire cost of the program came out of the direct mailing component of the communications budget, which is down substantially from years past. I am sure you have noticed, you have received far fewer mail packets from us in the last two years.

I would argue that small expenditures that celebrate our care for each other are never a waste of money, but are instead a tangible reminder of our oneness in Christ Jesus.

We hope you will wear your pin, or put it on a backpack, or on a casual coat, or on a bulletin board. One of our chaplains wrote to tell us she wears it on her hospital ID tag. Whatever its display, we hope our Thank you is appreciated by those who run with perseverance the race that was set before them.

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.

Tax Law Requires No Changes to Benefits Plan

The tax legislation signed into law December 22, 2017, by President Trump will not require changes to the Benefits Plan or its core benefits.

Most of the law’s changes, including the tax rate changes, are effective January 1, 2018, demanding that employers and individuals take action early in 2018, once the Internal Revenue Service releases implementation guidance. The Board will post educational resources for church employers and members on its Board University site throughout the transition.

As always, employer services and member services representatives are available to provide guidance Monday through Friday at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN), 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. ET.

Always Use the Latest Board Resources

The Board has recently updated important resources for 2018, including

Board resources are updated frequently, so always make sure you’re working from the latest version. You can find the most up-to-date versions in Available Resources on pensions.org.

Updated Tax Tips Tutorial Coming Soon

Tax Tips for Members and Employers Tax Year 2017 will be available at Board University later this month. This annual resource helps plan members and employers (including church treasurers and administrators) understand tax law changes that affect 2017 income tax reporting and filing. The tutorial will contain links to other helpful resources, including the Clergy Housing Allowance tutorial.

Save the Date for Well-Being Retreat 2018!

We’ve set the dates — August 20-22 — and preparations are underway for Well-Being Retreat 2018 at Montreat Conference Center, Montreat, North Carolina.

Well-Being Retreat is open to all plan members and retirees who want to become more deeply rooted in their lives and ministries. Please mark your calendar and come join us for worship, fellowship, renewal, and learning opportunities focused on the spiritual, health, vocational, and financial dimensions of well-being.

Visit the Well-Being Retreat page on pensions.org for more information. Program details will be updated there (and announced here, in Board Connections) as plans are finalized.

What Is Wholeness?

Wholeness is more than simply balancing different parts of one’s life. It’s the flourishing of life God intends for us all.

Call to Health offers activities, or challenges, in the four dimensions of wholeness spiritual, health, financial, and vocational. The goal? To help you tend to those parts of your life that need to be restored so that you and your ministry may flourish. Read more on pensions.org.

Resolve To Be Well: Answer the Call to Health

Members and spouses enrolled in the Medical Plan who answer the Call to Health* can get a jump start on their New Year’s resolutions, while earning points toward reduced medical deductibles in 2019 and a $100 Amazon gift card.

Whether you’ve resolved to exercise regularly, tighten your budget, be more grateful, or excel at your job, you’ll find challenges to help you stay on track. Current challenges spanning the four dimensions of wholeness include

  • Contribute to a Charity (spiritual);
  • Step It Up! (health);
  • Is That Purchase a Need or a Want? (financial); and
  • Attend a Board University Seminar (vocational).

You’ll also find Ignite Your Life coaching programs to help you make positive changes in your life — and stick with them. New coaching programs, such as Making a Difference, Budget Basics, and Step Up and Lead, are now available.

Members who accumulate at least 1,000 points by November 16, 2018, will earn reduced deductibles for 2019. In addition, members who earn 2,000 points and spouses who earn 1,000 points by the deadline will each receive a $100 Amazon gift card.

Visit calltohealth.org today and get started. Then, come back often to see what’s new.

*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.

It’s Never Too Soon To Prepare a Will

Why would 29-year-olds Caitlin Bomar and husband Kyle — both in excellent health — have wills drawn up? Caitlin, the Director of Children’s Ministry for Idlewild Presbyterian Church, in Memphis, Tennessee, had concrete reasons to satisfy the Call to Health challenge Create or Update Your Will. Learn more.

Lower RSP Expense Ratios: A Good Time To Save (or Save More)

Good news! Fidelity Investments, record keeper for the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP), has announced lower expenses on two socially responsible investment options in the plan. Read more about it here.

The RSP offers PC(USA) employees a valuable way to save for retirement. If you already participate in the RSP, consider how increasing your RSP contribution by just 1 percent can affect your income after you retire. If you do not participate in the RSP, learn how to enroll and manage your RSP account, and talk with your employer about signing up.

If you have RSP questions, 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.

24/7 Doctor Access with Teladoc

Members and their spouses and children enrolled in the active Medical Plan* can consult with a doctor 24/7 — with Teladoc.

Teladoc, provided through Highmark, gives you access — by phone, video, or mobile app — to U.S. board-certified physicians who can diagnose, recommend treatment, and prescribe medication, when appropriate, for many medical issues, such as ear infections, sinus problems, and flu symptoms. The cost for each consult with a Teladoc doctor is just $10.

Teladoc isn’t meant to replace your primary care doctor. It offers a convenient, affordable option when a trip to your doctor’s office isn’t practical, such as in the middle of the night or while traveling. With your consent, Teladoc will share information about your consult with your primary care doctor.

If you haven’t already used Teladoc, go to teladoc.com/enter or call 800-835-2362 to preregister (there’s no charge and it will save you time when you and your family need care). Then, call Teladoc or log in to its website to talk to a doctor anytime, anywhere.

*Teladoc is available to active Medical Plan enrollees covered through Highmark (PPO or EPO).Triple-S and GeoBlue enrollees should consult their plans’ provisions for information about covered telemedicine services.

Highlighted E-Learning

To learn about the 2018 challenges and how to navigate calltohealth.org, view the updated 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.