For us at the Board of Pensions, autumn is a season of planning. It’s when we start mapping out and refining our business plans and defining the work for the next year. This is my first such season here in Philadelphia, and I spent much of the summer getting ready for it.

I started out with reading, a lot of reading. I can now say from personal experience that if you haven’t spent much time with, you ought to. Our website has a wealth of information, not just about Board plans and programs but also about our operations. It takes time to get through it all, but it’s worth it. (The Available Resources tab is a good place to start.)

I also met with my direct staff, both as a group and one on one. Sometimes just three or four of us gathered around a table. Sometimes we just talked, sometimes I just listened, sometimes we shared a meal. These meetings confirmed what I had been pretty sure of: We have an amazing team. Each individual is a strong contributor and, working together, they keep us focused on our mission and on serving.

I feel extremely grateful for such resources and experience as we enter this season of planning. We’ve got challenges, no doubt about it. But we’re challenging ourselves as well, and we’re determined to continue our humble call, to serve those who serve the Church and to do it with excellence in care and service.

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.

Watch for the Next Medical Dues Guide Mailing

This month, Traditional Program members, churches and employing organizations, and mid councils will receive the third, and final, mailing on the change to medical dues. The Guide to Making Medical Coverage-Level Changes will review the actions members and employers need to take during the upcoming annual enrollment period, October 1 through November 14, 2014, to make sure Traditional Program members have the 2015 medical coverage they want. The mailing will provide guidance on the process for members and support for mid councils in their role as a resource.

Employers will learn how to submit dues-sharing policies to the Board, how to change a member’s medical coverage level, what to do if there are no coverage-level changes to report, and how to make certain they are billed correctly. Employers will also receive a report projecting individual and total medical dues for Traditional Program members for 2015.

Watch your mail for this important guide from the Board!

The Assistance Program Lends a Hand to New College Freshmen

The Transition-to-College Assistance Grant program is designed to help eligible families of new college freshmen with transitional expenses such as a computer or dorm room furnishings. A nonrecurring, one-time grant is available to qualifying members of the Benefits Plan based on financial need, plan participation, and enrollment of a dependent child as a full-time freshman in an accredited college or university. Amounts range from $500 to $1,000, depending on total family income.

Grant applications for the 2014-2015 academic year will be accepted from August 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015. To apply, complete the Transition-to-College Assistance Grant Application and return it to the Board at the address listed on the form.

Don’t Miss the Chance To Answer the Call to Health and Lower Your Deductibles for 2015

The deadline for completing your Call to Health* actions is coming up fast! Complete all of your health actions by September 30 to lower your medical deductibles for 2015. You’ll save at least $220 in 2015 deductibles.

Remember, you’ll need to record most, if not all, your health actions on For help with this, view Answering the Call to Health in 2014: A Tutorial on Qualifying for a Lower Medical Deductible in 2015, a Web module that explains how to navigate the Call to Health section of

For inspiration to finish the program, listen to a plan member discuss Call to Health in the brief video Called to Health: Rev. Akers. And be sure to visit

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

Additional Health Actions – Choose 2

  • Take the ActiveHealth Health Assessment online at or by calling AHM at 866-794-3127.
  • Know — and record — your lab numbers at 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
  • 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.

Board University Unveils Lessons 3, 4, and 5 of the Basic Investment Series

Board University has unveiled the final three lessons of its recently launched Basic Investment Series: Lesson 3: Dollar-Cost Averaging, Lesson 4: Asset Allocation, and Lesson 5: Advisers.

Presented by Rod Sewell, an Education Specialist with the Board of Pensions, the Basic Investment Series teaches how to invest now for a greater potential future return. The series is available on We recommend viewing the modules in order to build your knowledge:

Launched Earlier This Year

Newly Available

  • Lesson 3: Dollar-Cost Averaging explains how saving a fixed dollar amount over time — regardless of how the markets are doing — can take the emotion out of investing.
  • Lesson 4: Asset Allocation describes how to use two important tools — asset allocation and diversification — to make the most of your investments.
  • Lesson 5: Advisers discusses considerations when working with an investment adviser.

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.”

Don’t Ignore These Subtle Signs of Prostate and Ovarian Cancer

September is Prostate and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, a good time to learn the symptoms of these diseases. Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

Both prostate and ovarian cancer start without obvious signs; typically symptoms occur in later stages of these diseases. If you have any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor today!

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

  • a frequent need to urinate, especially at night
  • difficulty starting or stopping a stream of urine
  • a weak or interrupted urinary stream
  • leaking urine when laughing or coughing
  • inability to urinate standing up
  • blood in urine or semen

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

  • persistent pain in pelvis or belly
  • frequent bloating
  • increased abdominal growth or distension
  • difficulty eating, or feeling full quickly
  • feeling the need to urinate urgently or often

Keep in mind, your routine medical benefits* apply when you see a network provider to discuss symptoms of illness. If you see

  • a primary care physician, you pay a $25 copay;
  • a specialist, you pay a $45 copay.

If you need tests, surgery, or medical services other than an office visit, a deductible applies.

*For Highmark PPO members only. Medicare Supplement Plan, Anthem HMO, Triple-S, and Cigna Global Health Benefits enrollees should consult their plans’ provisions for information about covered services and copay amounts.

Gathering Strength for the Journey Ahead

In today’s Church, pastors who are recently ordained need not only a love of God and passion for ministry but also a clear sense of call, strong leadership skills, and the support of faithful Presbyterians everywhere. That need — to strengthen church leadership for the future — is the reason the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions sponsors Presbyterian CREDO conferences and offers Seminary Debt Assistance and Sabbath Sabbatical Support grants to qualifying PC(USA) teaching elders.

In the short video Lifting Up the Family of Faith: Cindy, the Reverend Cindy Kohlmann, an inspiring clergy leader who has benefited from two of these grants, speaks to an important way you can help build up the Church — by helping to support the Assistance Program and, in turn, PC(USA) clergy early in their ministries and other church workers and their families.

Please view Lifting Up the Family of Faith: Cindy and share it with your church family, friends, and colleagues.

Medical Plan Enrollment for Seminary Students Ends September 30

Annual Medical Plan enrollment for eligible seminary students began August 1 and will continue through September 30. For information about eligibility requirements and how to enroll, refer to the

For details about the Medical Plan, see the

If you have any questions about the medical coverage offered to qualified seminary students, please call the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN). You can also find information on the Board's website,

Members Can Apply Online for Optional Dental and Supplemental Death Coverage!

Mark your calendars: October 1 through November 14 is the annual enrollment period for the optional Dental and Supplemental Death Benefits plans. Members who are eligible for the plans can apply online through Benefits Connect, the Board’s secure benefits website, during the annual enrollment period. To register for Benefits Connect, follow the simple steps outlined on the site.

Note to employers: When your members apply online, you will receive a letter from the Board of Pensions indicating which members applied for the programs. These letters are generated daily.

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

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