From our President: Caring for all faithful ministers

September 09, 2020

All faithful ministers, as good [workers], are also worthy of their reward, and do not sin when they receive a stipend, and all things that be necessary for themselves and their family.

— The Second Helvetic Confession, Book of Confessions (5.168)

The Board of Pensions receives many notes of thanks. Some of the most moving come from retired ministers and surviving spouses. These notes are filled with gratitude for the pension or survivor’s benefit that has helped the writer continue to live independently. I have been so blessed …

Unfortunately, too many ministers, and the spouses who walked beside them in their service to the Church, won’t receive this support in retirement. They’re not covered under the Benefits Plan, which means they also lack its financial protection. An unexpected expense, like a medical emergency, could upend these ministers — a very real concern today, when so many of them bear burdensome debt.

We need to ensure every minister ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has the financial protection and retirement security they deserve. So, we’ve added a new benefits package to the Benefits Plan for 2021. Minister’s Choice provides for pension, disability protection, death benefits for families, and access to our Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) for just 10 percent of effective salary. It’s available to ministers who work at least 20 hours a week for any PC(USA) or affiliated employer. That might be a congregation, a mid council, or a senior care facility.

No commercially available benefit can reproduce the Minister’s Choice package of support: Defined Benefit Pension Plan, Death and Disability Plan, Employee Assistance Plan, and Temporary Disability Plan (new for 2021). But Minister’s Choice goes even further, making ministers eligible for all of the Board’s many educational programs and assistance grants, both during active employment and in retirement.

Minister’s Choice is about expanding access specifically for ministers. But the 2021 Benefits Plan expands access to quality benefits and eligibility for assistance grants for all who serve the PC(USA) and its affiliated organizations. The Temporary Disability Plan is open to anyone who works at least 20 hours a week, not just those in Minister’s Choice and Pastor’s Participation, and the new Long-Term Disability Plan provides protection for employees who are not enrolled in the Death and Disability Plan.

The Board is the PC(USA) agency charged with enabling PC(USA) congregations and agencies and our affiliated organizations to support their employees through the church Benefits Plan. We want every minister, every employee to have access to quality benefits in support of well-being. That’s our goal.

Employers have through October 9 to select benefits and review costs for 2021 and submit the Employer Agreement. Now is the time to consider the options for supporting ministers and employees through the Church plan.

Grace and peace,

The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer