I am pleased to be able to greet all of you in this inaugural issue of Board Connections. The planning for this newsletter began before I became President of the Board of Pensions, but it fits well with my pledge to you — to make the Board a creative and engaged conversation partner.

As we face the future, we all must make an effort to talk with each other so that we open up dialogue across the Church. We here at the Board will eagerly join in conversations and also expect to start some of them. And I promise you that along the way, we’ll try to do at least as much listening as talking.

Board Connections is just one new way we’ll be sharing information with you about the Board and your benefits. The newsletter will go out monthly, frequently enough to keep you up to date but hopefully not enough to become unwelcome at your inbox. Meanwhile, in the months ahead, we will continue to look for opportunities to better hear you. This is a unique time in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and we’re all searching for new ways to be church. Everyone needs to be involved in that search. It’s so important that we all contribute to the conversation during such times of change for our denomination

I assure you, the Board of Pensions is all in on this effort.

Grace and peace,

Frank C. Spencer

Welcome to Board Connections, the newsletter for 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.

Frank C. Spencer Confirmed as New Board President

The 221st General Assembly (2014) on June 18 confirmed the election of Frank C. Spencer as President of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Board of Directors of the Board of Pensions elected Mr. Spencer President on February 28, 2014. Read more on pensions.org.

Pension Plan Experience Apportionment Effective July 1

A 4.6 percent experience apportionment for the Pension Plan took effect on July 1. An experience apportionment is a lifelong increase in pension benefits for retirees and eligible survivors and an increase in accrued pension credits for active and terminated vested members.

As of December 31, 2013, the plan’s funded status was 147 percent, which the Board attributed to strong plan management, investment performance, and favorable interest rates, in addition to last year’s adjustment to the apportionment guidelines. To learn more about the experience apportionments process, read the article on pensions.org.

Target Date Funds Simplify RSP Investing

On July 1, the Board of Pensions added Fidelity Freedom Funds to the investment options in the Retirement Savings Plan (RSP) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). These funds are also known as target date funds, and they can make investing in the RSP easier because they offer a single-fund choice that does all the investing “work” for you.

Take Advantage of the RSP

If you haven’t thought about the RSP recently, take a minute to learn more about the new funds, saving for retirement, and creating your personal retirement strategy:

Sign up for the RSP

If you don’t already participate in the RSP, join today! Just download the Fidelity Investments Enrollment Form for the 403(b)(9) Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Retirement Savings Plan Salary Deferral Agreement from pensions.org or call the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) to request the forms from a member service representative. Give the completed forms to your employer to process. If you already participate in the RSP and want to increase the amount you save, complete the Salary Deferral Agreement only and give it to your employer.

Questions? Call Fidelity at 800-343-0860 and speak with a representative (mention plan #57887). Or, call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) and speak with a member service representative.

Lifting Up the Family of Faith

More than 1,300 pastors, missionaries, other church workers, and their families receive financial help from the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions each year. Some, like the Reverend Bill Thompson, are retired; others are just starting their ministries. All faithfully serve, or have served, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and truly need our help.

Take a moment to hear Mr. Thompson describe, in the brief video Lifting Up the Family of Faith: Bill, God’s “grace in action” — the support provided by the Assistance Program to church workers in need throughout the PC(USA). And please support the ministry of the Assistance Program by making your gift online at pensions.org/giveassistance, or call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN), ext. 7300, for further information.

Are You Answering the Call to Health?

Complete your Call to Health* actions by September 30 to lower your medical deductibles for 2015. You can save at least $220 in 2015 deductibles.

You’re on track if you have completed (and recorded on myactivehealth.com/pcusa) most ― if not all ― of your health actions for Call to Health by now. September 30 is fast approaching, so if you have not had your preventive care visit, schedule it today; many doctors are booked through the end of August.

For information about completing and recording your health actions, visit pensions.org/calltohealth. You’ll find a variety of resources outlining the program, including a chart summarizing the health action information and a new Web module explaining how to navigate the Call to Health section of myactivehealth.com/pcusa. You can also watch a brief video message from a participating member.

Here’s a brief recap of program details:

Required Health Actions

  • Complete a preventive exam with your primary care physician (men and women) or with your gynecologist (women).
  • Engage in telephonic health coaching (if you are contacted). If ActiveHealth Management (AHM) calls you, schedule time to talk with your nurse coach by calling AHM at 866-794-3127, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., or Saturday, 9 a.m.‑2 p.m. ET. See more details about coaching sessions at pensions.org/calltohealth.

Additional Health Actions – Choose 2

  • Take the ActiveHealth Health Assessment online, at myactivehealth.com/pcusa, or by phone, using the phone number in the bullet above.
  • Know — and record — your lab numbers at myactivehealth.com/pcusa. Enter them in the Health Assessment, your Personal Health Record, or the Tracker tool.
  • Have a vision exam, and certify you’ve taken it in the Call to Health section of myactivehealth.com/pcusa.
  • Participate in the AHM tobacco cessation program (if you are a tobacco user).
  • Attend a Presbyterian CREDO conference (if you are invited).

Remember, schedule your appointment(s) now to be sure you’re able to complete Call to Health by September 30. All health actions must be completed by September 30 to receive lower deductibles for 2015. Health actions completed after September 30 will not count toward receiving lower 2015 deductibles.

*Members enrolled in the Anthem HMO will have the opportunity to participate in Call to Health for members with Anthem coverage. Call to Health is not available to members in Triple-S, Cigna Global Health Benefits, or the Medicare Supplement Plan in 2014.

It's Time for Back-to-School Shots

Is your child due for a vaccine before he or she begins school this fall?

In most states, certain immunizations are required before a child may attend school or day care. The vaccines required by your state may include chicken pox, diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis, and hepatitis A and B vaccines, depending on your child’s age.

Children covered by the active Medical Plan (or Anthem) receive these and other immunizations for a $0 copay with a network provider.

So schedule a preventive care visit with your child’s pediatrician or primary care doctor, and make sure his or her immunizations are up to date. Check the Preventive Schedule for further information.

Ready for the Latest in Investment Education?

Board University presents its newest e-learning resource: the Basic Investment series. See the first three modules of the series on pensions.org.

The Basic Investment series teaches ways to invest now for a greater future return, explaining  investment risk, defining  common investment terms, and suggesting questions to ask your adviser.

This new series follows the launch earlier this year of the Personal Finance series, which reviews budgeting and debt management. Like Personal Finance, the Basic Investment series contains multiple modules, designed so you can view them at your own pace, when convenient. The lessons are presented by Rod Sewell, an Education Specialist with the Board of Pensions. We recommend viewing the modules in order to build your knowledge:

Available Now

Coming Soon

  • Lesson 3: Dollar Cost Averaging
  • Lesson 4: Asset Allocation
  • Lesson 5: Advisers

Remember, all Board University resources, including Web modules and face-to-face seminars, are offered free of charge to members. Continue the lifelong process of learning with a visit to Board University, your education partner for the plans and programs of the Board of Pensions, featuring “learning through the stages of your life.”

Clergy Effective Salaries Reports Available

The Board has tabulated effective salary data for 2014 to assist decision makers with reviewing clergy compensation. Two reports are available, one organized by congregation size and years of service and the other by synod. Read more on pensions.org.

These reports are separate from the Board’s salary study that reports effective salary information for various calculations under the Benefits Plan. For information based on that study, see the Median Salaries for 2015 and the Salaries in the Parish Ministry 2014 Salary Study on pensions.org.

This Board Bulletin reports actions taken at the summer 2014 meeting of the Board of Directors, July 10-12, that affect plans and programs administered by the Board.

Need help navigating the Call to Health section of myactivehealth.com/pcusa? Watch this new Web module!

Securely Access Your Statement of Benefits Online

Active and disabled Traditional Program members and retirees and survivors with a mailing address in the United States who receive monthly pension payments can get a current Statement of Benefits online. The easy-to-follow format consolidates information about the benefits you are receiving through the Benefits Plan into a report that you can review, save, and print.

To access your online statement, log in to your Benefits Connect account. Then, quickly generate your Statement of Benefits by clicking on

  • the Generate Your Statement of Benefits button on the Welcome page that opens when you log in; or
  • Statement of Benefits under My Benefits in the left-hand menu.

If you are not already taking advantage of Benefits Connect, register today!

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If you have comments or feedback on this newsletter, please let us know at Communications@pensions.org.

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