I’ve talked to you about how we are serving more, serving better, and serving the Church. When I say we, I mean the Board of Pensions team. The Board is 185 individuals working as one to help the Church care for as many of its employees as possible.

Two years ago, we started an annual all-employee gathering in January to celebrate the exceptional achievements of individual Board employees in the year just ended. Last month, 87 staff members were recognized for their accomplishments in 2016.

Two individuals received the highest honor, the Ernesto Badillo Award for Hospitality through Service. The Reverend Ernesto Badillo Jr. passed away in 2015, and he left a legacy of caring for members, employers, and churches, lovingly and with great warmth. D.J. Lee and Sharon Castillo both reflect Ernesto’s passion for serving the Church.

I suspect not many of you have had the privilege of working with D.J. He’s one of our many extraordinary behind-the-scenes staff members. In 2016, he made impactful contributions to the implementation of the 2017 Benefits Plan. You may know Sharon. She has often been involved with our employers and works closely with our vendor partners. Last year, Sharon traveled to employer locations, met with members, and helped existing and new members elect coverage in the Benefits Plan.

D.J., Sharon, and the others we recognized last month inspire each of us in our service to the Church. That helps us to serve better as a team, which is important because even though we are 185 individuals, we rise and fall as a team. As we work in community with each other we are mindful of the broader community that is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that we serve.

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.

Two Employees Receive 2016 Ernesto Badillo Award

The Board of Pensions has recognized two employees for extraordinary contributions in 2016, a year that demanded significant changes in the workings of the agency as it redesigned The Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for 2017. D.J. Lee, Business Process Systems Manager, and Sharon Castillo, recently named Director, Delivery and Administration, received the Ernesto Badillo Award for Hospitality through Service, presented last month during the Board’s annual Celebrating Excellence gathering.

2016 Investment Review Available

The Board of Pensions 2016 Investment Review is available on pensions.org. The review addresses the investment results for the Board of Pensions Balanced Investment Portfolio for the period ended December 31, 2016.

Consider Alternatives to the ER

Rising healthcare costs are a concern for everyone. This article is the first in a series that will help you to understand and limit your costs while obtaining quality care.

Always go to the emergency room (ER) for a true emergency, but for non-life-threatening problems, such as cuts, sprains, and flu, the ER is an expensive — and wasteful — way to get care. Covered members who visit the ER must first meet their deductible before the plan pays benefits. For 2017, PPO member deductibles may be as much as $1,305; EPO member deductibles are $2,000. Family deductibles are additional. After you meet your deductible, you then pay 20 percent of the costs incurred during your visit.

A visit to a network urgent care center, on the other hand, costs you a specialist copay: $45 for the PPO and $60 for the EPO. When diagnostic services such as lab tests or X-rays are needed during an urgent care visit, PPO members pay 20 percent of the costs after meeting their deductible; EPO members pay a $65 copay. The savings can be significant!

Also consider these alternatives to the ER:

America Saves Week Starts February 27

America Saves Week is a national campaign celebrated by organizations to encourage employees to save money and plan for the future. Join this year’s celebration February 27 through March 4 by boosting your savings — in the Retirement Savings Plan (RSP) or your personal savings account — by 1 percent. Use this calculator from Fidelity Investments, record keeper for the RSP, to find out how just a 1 percent increase in savings can have a big impact on your retirement income.

And, keep in mind, that with a brand new investment option, added features, and lower fees, it is worth thinking (or rethinking) about how the RSP can work for you. Read New Year, Great Plan for Retirement Savings or visit pensions.org.

2016 and 2017 Tax Resources Are Here!

The Tax Guide for Ministers for 2016 Returns and Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches: What You Need To Know for 2017 are now available through Benefits Connect (search in Resources & Support). The Tax Guide will also be mailed to active and retired teaching elders this month.

Included with the Tax Guide is the housing allowance letter, which is available on pensions.org.

The web module Tax Tips for Members and Churches – Tax Year 2016 is now available at Board University. This annual resource helps active and retired teaching elders, treasurers, and church administrators understand recent tax law changes that affect income tax reporting and filing. The module contains links to other helpful resources, including the Clergy Housing Allowance web module.

Spotlight on Call to Health

Did you know you and your covered spouse — can each earn a $100 Amazon gift card with Call to Health?* It’s easy!

First, you each need to register on the Call to Health website, calltohealth.org (if you registered last year, you’re good!). Then, complete the required challenges and others you select to earn points.


If, by November 10, 2017, you have

  • 1,000 points,** your medical deductibles will be reduced for 2018;
  • 2,000 points,** you’ll get a $100 Amazon gift card.

Covered Spouses

If, by November 10, 2017, you have

  • 1,000 points,** you’ll get a $100 Amazon gift card!

Be sure to tell your spouse to participate, then challenge each other to work toward your goals! In addition to receiving financial benefits, you’ll enjoy better well-being, helping you to be your best self as you serve others.

*Call to Health is available to members and their covered spouses enrolled in the active Medical Plan (the Highmark PPO or EPO); it is not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.

**including points for completing required challenges

Hearts for Your Heart

February isn’t just for valentines. It’s also American Heart Month, a reminder to be kind to your heart. Are you exercising? Eating heart-healthy meals? Watching your blood pressure and cholesterol levels?

If you (and your heart) are due for a checkup, now is a good time to schedule your annual preventive exam with your primary care provider. Your checkup between October 1, 2016, and November 10, 2017, satisfies one of the required challenges for Call to Health and counts toward lower deductibles for 2018 and a $100 Amazon gift card. After your well visit, record the date of your visit on the site for points!

So, show your heart some love: Schedule an appointment for your checkup today. Your loved ones, and your heart, will thank you.

Did You Know ...

You can change your contact information on Benefits Connect. Log on to Benefits Connect and click on About Me to check your contact information and update it as needed.

Highlighted E-Learning

Members, treasurers, and administrators may now view the Tax Year 2016 Edition of Tax Tips for Members & Churches to understand recent tax law changes affecting income tax reporting and filing.


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