The Board Bulletin Summer 2018

​After each regular meeting of the Board of Directors of The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Board of Pensions publishes The Board Bulletin. This Bulletin reports key information presented and actions taken at the summer 2018 meeting that affect plans and programs administered by the Board of Pensions.

In accordance with the bylaws of the Board of Pensions, the Board of Directors' second meeting of the year is to be the annual meeting, at which the audited financial statements are distributed. The July 14, 2018, meeting of the Board of Directors was the annual meeting, during which the 2017 audited financial statements were distributed to the full Board of Directors.

​No dues increase in 2019 for Pastor's Participation or Medicare Supplement

Following a presentation by staff and Milliman Inc., the Board's healthcare actuary, the Healthcare Committee recommended and the Directors approved

holding dues steady for medical coverage in Pastor's Participation (25 percent of effective salary) for 2019 with no change to the minimum dues amount; and

keeping the cost of Medicare Supplement coverage unchanged for a second consecutive year.
Seminary student healthcare coverage costs, which were significantly reduced last year, will also remain unchanged for 2019.

These favorable pricing decisions are largely the result of the Board of Directors' decision at its spring 2018 meeting to establish a high-cost claims fund, as well as of a favorable contract negotiation with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, resulting in significant administrative cost savings.

The 2019 coverage costs for menu options, unique to each employer, will be available online through Benefits Connect in mid-July, when employers can begin selecting the benefits they will offer their employees during annual enrollment.

Balanced Investment Portfolio exceeds long-term benchmarks

Suzanne P. Welsh, Chair of the Investment Committee, provided an overview of the Committee's work on behalf of Benefits Plan members and their beneficiaries.

The Balanced Investment Portfolio consists of three major components: U.S. and international equity, fixed income, and alternative investments. At each of its three meetings per year, the Committee has an in-depth review of one of the portfolio components. At the summer 2018 meeting, the Committee reviewed the alternative investment component, which includes private partnership investments in private equity, distressed debt and venture capital, and marketable diversifying strategies that include real estate securities and commodities.

The Committee had educational forums on investing in global private equity and venture capital. The Committee approved commitments to global private equity, venture capital, and distressed debt private partnerships.

The Committee affirmed the long-term strategic asset allocation ranges previously approved by the Board of Directors and confirmed that the May 31, 2018, asset allocations of 35.9 percent in U.S. stocks, 22.0 percent in international stocks, 1.2 percent in global stocks, 26.7 percent in fixed income, and 14.2 percent in other assets were within the approved long-term strategic asset allocation ranges. 

Judith D. Freyer, Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, reviewed the 2018 year-to-date performance of 1.0 percent within the framework of global economic and political events. The Balanced Investment Portfolio exceeded the return of the Asset Mix Policy Benchmark year-to-date and for the one, three, five, 10, 15, and 20 years ended May 31, 2018. The policy benchmark assumes passive management of the portfolio using index funds. The portfolio also exceeded the 6 percent Pension Plan actuarial assumption for the one, three, five, 10, 15, and 20 years ended May 31, 2018.

The Balanced Investment Portfolio is the investment fund for the Pension Plan, Death and Disability Plan, Endowment Fund, and Assistance Program as well as for restricted gifts made to the Board of Pensions. On May 31, 2018, the portfolio had a market value of $9.5 billion.

Assistance Program Marriage Equality grants approved

The Directors approved the creation of Assistance Program grants to make whole, from a survivor's benefit perspective, same-gender spouses or partners who were in legally recognized marriages, civil unions, or other legally recognized relationships conveying inheritance benefits with Pension Plan members who died before 2013.

This action acknowledges that if the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) had recognized these legal relationships at the time of plan members' deaths, surviving spouses and partners would have been entitled to survivors' benefits under the Pension Plan.

The Directors committed $45,000 from the Assistance Program to fund one-half of the expected commitment necessary for these grants, challenging the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Office of the General Assembly [collectively, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corp.] to take action recognizing the responsibility of the PC(USA) in creating this circumstance and, in recognition of that responsibility, to fund the other half of the expected commitment in the amount of $45,000.

The Board of Pensions expressed appreciation for the collaboration with the Covenant Network of Presbyterians and More Light Presbyterians in helping to identify eligible individuals.

Counsel and auditor engagements

The Directors reaffirmed the designation of the following advisers:

  • Willis Towers Watson, for pension actuarial counsel
  • Milliman Inc., for medical actuarial counsel
  • Ballard Spahr LLP, for legal counsel

They also engaged Deloitte & Touche LLP as external auditors and Protiviti as internal auditors.

New Directors join Board of Directors

Nine new Directors, bringing diverse demographic backgrounds and professional expertise to their roles, were welcomed at the July 2018 meeting of the Board of Directors and assigned or elected to serve on the committees indicated:

​Director​City, State​Committees
​Gordon C. Enderle​Madison, Wisconsin​Audit and Compliance
​George Hauptfuhrer​Atlanta, Georgia​Board Development and Governance*
​Andrew Junkin​Superior, Colorado​Assistance and Church Engagement
​C. William Keith​Charlotte, North Carolina​Audit and Compliance
​Cindy Levering​Baltimore, Maryland​Board Development and Governance*
​Larry I. Palmer​Richmond, Virginia​Assistance and Church Enagement
​The Reverend Stan Reid, M.D.​Greenville, South Carolina​Board Development and Governance*
​The Reverend Fernando Rodriguez​Bloomfield Hills, Michigan​Assistance and Church Engagement
​Joshua Power Stevens​Walnut Creek, California​Audit and Compliance
​*elected to serve on this committee by the Board of Directors ​ ​

Elected by the 223rd General Assembly (2018), the new Directors replace members of the outgoing Class of 2018, whose terms expired at the conclusion of the 223rd General Assembly (see Spring 2018 Board Bulletin).

The next meeting of the Board of Directors is scheduled October 25-27, 2018. For further information about the meeting, contact the Corporate Secretary at