We’re all fond of the familiar. We like predictable; predictable is good. So we follow patterns and engage in rituals we know by heart. How many of you head for the same pew every Sunday?

But is that how we want to be remembered? Do we want those who come after us to say, “They played it safe and followed a path so worn they could walk it with their eyes closed”? I don’t think any Presbyterian would be proud of a legacy like that. I know I wouldn’t.

The implication of the resurrection is that life can no longer be the same. That is pretty scary stuff. But it’s also hopeful. As we live out the Gospel, we are trying, hopefully, to show the love to one another that God showed us through the gift of Jesus Christ. We want to do God’s will on earth. To do that, we may have to let go of some power, get better at sharing resources, and, yes, experience discomfort.

Clearly, continuing along the well-worn path is not an option. We all know the challenges the Church faces. At the Board, we’re laying the groundwork for a redesign of the Benefits Plan so it will be a better fit for our changing church. It’s not easy, I’ll give you that. But we’ve got to act now to help the Church care for its servants, and to care for more of them than it does now, because they are essential to spreading the Gospel.

This week, the Board hosts the last of three Regional Benefits Consultations (RBCs). We’re in Chicago — last week it was Philadelphia and the week before that, San Diego. We modified our design to include places for small group discussions and the sharing of feedback.

We’re really pleased with what we’ve gathered so far and will call on everything we’ve heard as we continue to work together to redesign the plan. We look forward to also sharing it with you once the final RBC concludes.

Grace and peace,

The Reverend Frank Clark 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.

Save More in 2015

Give your retirement finances some help. Start saving — or save more — in the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP).

Saving just a small amount regularly can be a manageable, effective way to improve your financial outlook. Learn how here.

If you don’t currently save in the RSP, contact your employer to learn how to start. If you already save in the RSP, consider saving just a small amount more. And, think about whether the recently added RSP target date funds and Roth contribution option are right for you. For information, call the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) to speak with a member service representative, or Fidelity at 800-642-7131 to speak with a Workplace Planning and Guidance Consultant.

World No Tobacco Day: Time To Kick the Habit

If you use tobacco, let May 31, World No Tobacco Day, jump-start your journey toward quitting. The World Health Organization (WHO) marks the day to highlight the health risks of tobacco use and exposure, and advocate for policies to reduce tobacco consumption. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally and responsible for 10 percent of adult deaths worldwide.

Plan members who use tobacco can enroll in the ActiveHealth tobacco cessation program or engage in counseling sessions, by phone, with an ActiveHealth coach. If you finish the program or have three such counseling sessions between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2015, you will complete a health action for Call to Health. Enroll or schedule your first session today by calling ActiveHealth at 866-794-3127.

If you never used tobacco or did at one time but quit, good for you! You have taken an important step toward achieving your best health. Take another step by completing Call to Health between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2015, and lower your deductibles for 2016!

The Greatest Gift? Our Christian Love for One Another

The day came when the Reverend Edward Sale, suffering from Alzheimer’s, needed to be moved to a skilled nursing facility. His wife was anxious. The Reverend Virginia Sale, age 86, had cared for her husband up to that point and managed to make ends meet. With his move, in addition to being worried about Ed’s care, Virginia faced mounting bills and an uncertain future, despite having saved conscientiously for retirement.

Those worries were quelled, for the most part, when the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions began providing the Sales with a monthly Income Supplement three years ago. Virginia is both relieved and grateful, observing that, “The Christian love it represents is a reminder of the faith we share, regardless of our circumstances."

Watch The Greatest Gift at pensions.org/virginia.

The Launch of The Learning Connection

This week, Board University launched The Learning Connection, a learning management system. The rollout will be gradual, starting with select new members of the Benefits Plan. To learn more, read the article on pensions.org.

Registration was by invitation only to a test audience.

The Learning Connection initially will offer a self-paced, online course featuring lessons to help new members learn more about

  • concepts key to the Benefits Plan’s design;
  • core and optional benefits for Traditional Program members; and
  • other programs and services available through the Board of Pensions.

Look for more information in pensions.org in coming months as The Learning Connection offers additional courses to an expanded audience.

Sign Up Now for the Financial Well-Being Retreat at Montreat!

Raise your financial awareness at the Board’s first-ever Financial Well-Being Retreat for members, Monday and Tuesday, August 17 and 18, 2015. Registration is now open for this event, which will be hosted for active Benefits Plan members at Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina. To learn more, read the pensions.org article Registration Now Open: Financial Well-Being Retreat at Montreat.

Highmark Responds to BlueCard Network Cyberattacks, Exposure of Member Data

After a recent meeting of senior Board of Pensions executives with the top security officers of Highmark Blue Cross, the Board’s Privacy Officer and Vice President of Member Services, Kelly Riley, expressed confidence in the quality of Highmark’s security staff and their procedures for securing the Board’s data. “We’re as well protected as we possibly can be in this era of cyber-breach,” she said.

The Board had previously submitted a list of tough questions to Highmark, whose security officers presented the measures Highmark has in place, and is developing, to protect member data. Highmark administers the Medical Plan for the Board.

Highmark had informed the Board earlier this year that member records may have been compromised in two separate incidents: a large data breach at Anthem Inc., which operates in 14 states, and another at Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield, in Washington and Alaska. (Organizations that participate in the national Blue Cross BlueCard network share certain information to pay providers and process claims locally; Highmark is among the Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations for which Anthem and Premera process claims.) It appears that about 12,000 member records may have been exposed during the attacks.

Security experts agree the best strategy for securing data is to prevent a successful breach in the first place. Highmark shared with the Board their top goal arising from the April 13 meeting is to standardize security protocols. Its security officers reported that Highmark has already begun working with other, traditionally independent Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations to remediate any system vulnerabilities. Education, vigilance, and reducing information access are also important ways for both “the Blues” and the Board to limit risk, Ms. Riley noted.

The Board also has long included rigorous security requirements in its contracts with vendors. Legal counsel is taking another look at the Board’s contracts with vendors and business associates to ensure it has the most stringent protections possible in place, for the plan and its members.

In the months ahead, Highmark will keep the Board apprised of its progress working with the approximately 30 national BlueCard affiliates.

Highlighted E-Learning

The Reverend Bill Thompson emphasizes the importance of attending the Board’s seminars and early planning for retirement in About Your Benefits: Seminars.


Find upcoming seminars and locations

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.

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