From our President: Showing God’s grace in tangible ways

January 06, 2021

"No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket …"

Matt 5:15

We have just celebrated Christmas, when Jesus comes to us as the light of the world. Epiphany on January 6 is our celebration of the Magi following the light of the Star, worshipping the child born to Mary and Joseph, symbolizing the spread of God's light in Christ Jesus to the whole world. God's grace is available to all.

As an agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), on its behalf, the Board of Pensions shows God's grace in tangible ways. These ways change with the needs of the Church. In 2020, the pandemic brought unforeseen needs as well as opportunities to serve more, even as we served better and served the Church.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.*

As financial hardship spread with the virus, we offered three-month dues waivers to small congregations and two months of interest-free dues deferments to larger churches and affiliated organizations. This succeeded in keeping more pastors employed and paid than in the year before. Financial assistance for individuals continues into the new year, and the 20-hour minimum workweek requirement for benefits eligibility remains suspended so coverage can continue despite furloughs and work-hour reductions.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

The Medical Plan was adjusted to cover 100 percent of the cost of physician-ordered coronavirus expenses. Now that vaccines have arrived, those will be covered, too, as preventive, just like your flu shot. We've talked a lot about the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) to make sure members know what a great source of support it is. And now, in 2021, with Minister's Choice, more ministers have access to it.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Our educational programs have been lending much-needed support as well. They're rooted in our Theology of Benefits, which holds that God wishes life abundant for all of us. They promote wholeness, something that's been under siege during the pandemic. When COVID-19 forced the programs online, we saw participation grow, so we offered more of them. The virus spurred us to "create offerings and space so that no matter where you are, there are opportunities for you to come to the well and be nourished," said our Director of Wholeness Education, the Reverend Lori Neff LaRue.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

As we move through the early months of 2021, the Board of Pensions will continue to provide these opportunities. We will serve more, serve better, and serve the Church as we bear witness to God's light in the darkness.

Grace and peace, 

The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer

*John 1:5