Welcome to Employer News, a newsletter from The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). If you have any feedback or would like to subscribe to this newsletter, please let us know.

We offer prayers and assistance information for hurricane victims

We pray for those in the path of Hurricane Michael. The Board of Pensions recognizes the urgent need for help — from obtaining medical care to accessing medications to receiving financial assistance. Please see resources available to members and employers affected by recent hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Updated Living by the Gospel available

The updated Living by the Gospel is now available, with an effective date of January 1, 2019. Data has been refreshed and includes additional gender breakdowns for salary, ordination, and benefits participation. The Board of Pensions designed this guide to structuring terms of call to help move the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) toward providing full benefits to all PC(USA) ministers.

Data suggests that providing ministers with benefits helps keep them in active ministry. The 223rd General Assembly (2018) authorized Living by the Gospel, and asked the Board to update it annually and distribute it to all mid councils, Committees on Ministry, Committees on Preparation for Ministry, and Pastor Nominating Committees.

The PC(USA) has been ordaining fewer ministers each year and providing a smaller percentage of them with benefits. But the 2017 data in Living by the Gospel (Appendix 3) shows an increase in both. Yet, a gender gap persists. Women outnumber men ordained, but men have obtained benefits at a far greater rate — 76 percent to 62 percent.

Board outlines support at Mid Council Leaders Gathering

Approximately 250 Presbytery and synod executives and stated clerks attended the second annual Mid Council Leaders Gathering. The Board of Pensions and Office of the General Assembly co-sponsor the event, held this year October 5-7 in Chicago.

Board leaders raised a sense of urgency around issues of gender, race, and fair play. They outlined steps the agency is taking to support the Church — including expanding choice in the 2019 Benefits Plan in response to changing demographics. They detailed Board initiatives designed to bolster congregational ministry, including Pathways to Renewal and expanded debt assistance for ministers. And they called on mid council leaders to partner with the Board in building support and care for pastors called to serve the Church in the 21st century.

Employer Agreements due October 12

Submit your 2019 Employer Agreement through Benefits Connect by October 12! If you miss the deadline, your employees will be unable to elect 2019 benefits during annual enrollment. Find answers to questions and details about selecting 2019 benefits.

If you need assistance, call the Board at 800-773-7752. To ensure that all employers are able to submit their Employer Agreements, service hours will be extended to 6 p.m. ET through October 12. Normal hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

How can you help employees save for their future?

The Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP) is an easy, effective way for employees to get on a path to financial security in retirement. This 403(b)(9) defined contribution plan through Fidelity offers a range of investment choices, including a fossil fuel-free global environmental fund, socially responsible investment options, and target date funds.

All employees, regardless of the number of hours worked, are eligible and encouraged to participate in the RSP. There is no cost to employers who participate in the RSP, and employee contributions can be made conveniently and securely online. Employers may choose to set up contributions on a member’s behalf as well.

To get started, check the box next to 403(b)(9) Retirement Savings Plan for each group in your Employer Agreement. Then, visit the Retirement Savings Plan (RSP) Toolkit for information and resources to help you better understand and communicate with your employees about the RSP.

Help employees get ready to enroll

Members can make elections October 29 through November 16 for benefits effective January 1, 2019. You can help employees get ready by encouraging them to

  • log on to Benefits Connect to review the coverage they have now;
  • consider whether the same coverage will meet their needs next year;
  • learn about 2019 benefits that may be offered; and
  • ask questions if there’s something they don’t understand.

By reviewing coverage options now, employees will be prepared to make informed choices during annual enrollment so they’ll have the coverage they want for 2019.

Why it’s important to register and complete Level 1

Did you know Call to Health ends November 16? With time running out, it’s important to encourage your employees to register and complete challenges at calltohealth.org by the deadline so they can earn reduced deductibles for next year. A reduced deductible means the Medical Plan will begin paying for covered expenses sooner.

An employee enrolled in the PPO* can save a minimum of $220 in 2019 medical deductibles by completing Call to Health Level 1. Someone in the EPO can save $500. Employees who complete Level 2 will receive a $100 Amazon gift card, and spouses who reach 1,000 points receive a gift card, too.

For the employee who usually has few medical expenses, reaching Level 1 ensures a reduced deductible if unexpected medical expenses arise. But Call to Health isn’t just about dollars and cents. Call to Health promotes all the dimensions of wholeness in each of us, so that we are better able to serve others and share God's love with the world.

*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.

Help with trauma recovery is available

Recent news stories may affect employees in a very personal way, bringing up intense emotions and long-buried memories. Breaking the silence can be difficult.

Administered by Cigna Behavioral Health, the confidential Employee Assistance Program can be a valuable source of support. Ministers and employees with medical coverage and anyone in their household may call the Board's dedicated EAP line, 866-640-2772, for help.

  • Consultations of 20-30 minutes with a licensed professional can provide immediate support and identify next steps.
  • Up to six face-to-face counseling sessions in a safe, supportive environment are provided at no cost to the employee or the employer.

Whether employees are struggling with a trauma they have experienced or are supporting someone else's recovery, assistance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

New RSP requirement: If you are registered on Fidelity's Simplified Contribution Platform (SCP) but have not provided your bank account information, you must log in at contribution.appiancloud.com and complete SCP registration by setting up your bank account information and email notifications.

If you have difficulty registering on SCP, receiving bank account validation, or submitting contributions or have any questions, call the Fidelity service team at 800-917-4369.

Annual enrollment: Active plan members will receive a postcard with important dates and where to find information about 2019 benefits options and costs.

As we work to depict the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on our website and in other materials, we would love to include your images of ministers and other church employees at work.

Please send us your photo submissions by Friday, October 19. You must own the photo to submit it. If your photo is chosen, we’ll send you a release form to fill out and return.

Submit your photos.

If you have questions or need assistance, call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, or email us at memberservices@pensions.org.

To ensure that all employers are able to submit their Employer Agreements, service hours are extended to 6 p.m. ET through October 12.

If you have questions or need assistance, call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, or email the Board at memberservices@pensions.org.