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Any church or employer experiencing economic hardship is encouraged to contact the Board. If you have questions or think you may qualify for a waiver or deferment, please call us at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.
The COVID-19 crisis is bringing hardship to many employers that participate in the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This is especially true for churches.
“Churches are in a particularly difficult situation, with limits being placed on gathering sizes and the need for social distancing,” said the Reverend Frank Clark Spencer, Board of Pensions President. “It’s been Board practice during crises like this to offer financial support to churches and employers.” In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for example, the Board granted dues relief to churches with unavailable sanctuaries or displaced congregants.
“Providing that kind of relief for an extended period to the entire denomination is not feasible because of the Board’s obligation to maintain sustainable benefits plans,” President Spencer said. “But we are hopeful that, with congregations and employers supporting their ministers and employees as best they can, together we can help our community of faith weather COVID-19.”
The details on support the Board is offering follow. As so much remains unclear, these steps will be reviewed every 30 days.
Dues relief will be granted on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with the presbytery/synod, for those churches with congregations no larger than 300 people with a single pastor enrolled in Pastor’s Participation that self-identify as having extreme need. Up to three months of Pastor’s Participation dues will be waived, with no change to benefits.
If these churches are also covering other employees through the plan, the Board may defer payments owed by the church for up to two months. Benefits would not be affected and no interest would be charged. At the end of the deferment period, the outstanding balance would be paid off in monthly installments for the remainder of 2020, along with the normal payment.
Churches that participate in the Benefits Plan but don’t meet the criteria above may be able to receive deferments of up to two months on payments for minister and employee coverage. Deferment decisions will be case-by-case. There will be no change in benefits and no interest charge with a deferment. At the end of the deferment period, the outstanding balance will be paid off in monthly installments for the remainder of 2020, along with the normal payment.
Other church employers, including presbyteries, synods, and agencies, may also have difficulty during this crisis. PC(USA)-affiliated organizations, a diverse group of employers with varying needs and financial resources, may struggle as well.
Employers in this group that self-identify as having extreme need may be able to defer payments for employee plan coverage for up to two months. Deferments will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Benefits will not be affected and interest will not be charged. At the end of the deferment period, the outstanding balance will be paid off in monthly installments for the remainder of 2020, along with the normal payment.
“Our churches and employers are all over the country, and the time frame for COVID-19 to run its course varies by region,” President Spencer said. “We’re monitoring the situation daily to be sure that we’re doing all we can.”