Congregations gain flexibility, choice with redesigned Benefits Plan

April 03, 2024

PHILADELPHIA — Congregations will have greater flexibility and choice when the new Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) takes effect Jan. 1, 2025. The plan, redesigned to better support congregational ministry in the Church of today, received approval last month from the Board of Directors of The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 

“Forty years ago, at reunion, the Church designed a benefits plan around a type of pastoral leadership and family structure that are no longer the norm,” said the Reverend Dr. Frank Clark Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions. “Today, we have an outdated dues structure, with fewer and fewer ministers being enrolled in a plan that was designed for them. And the ones most often excluded are women, people of color, and those serving small congregations.” 

The 2025 Benefits Plan results from the season of rebuilding initiative the agency launched in 2023 to restructure the plan to meet the needs of the changing Church. Input gathered from throughout the PC(USA) in face-to-face meetings with mid council leaders and in Virtual Town Halls informed the redesign.

“The Church has changed greatly in 40 years,” Dr. Spencer said. “This new plan brings us into the 21st century, providing the opportunity to support more pastoral leaders so their ministries flourish and congregations remain vital.”

Two new dues packages 

The redesigned plan introduces two new dues packages:

The Covenant Package provides income protection for eligible individuals working at least 20 hours a week, regardless of ordination status. Pension, death and disability coverage, temporary disability coverage, and the Employee Assistance Plan are part of the package. The value of the package, which provides access to the Board of Pensions’ assistance and education programs, is unmatched in the commercial marketplace. Dues for the Covenant Package are 10% of effective salary, paid entirely by the congregation or employer.

“Our hope is that all ministers will be enrolled in the Covenant Package,” Dr. Spencer said. “It is a unique combination of protection that includes access to our assistance and education programs. Together, these benefits and programs support wholeness, helping those who serve the Church to thrive.”

The Congregational Pastors Package replaces the current Pastor’s Participation benefits package for installed pastors. In addition to being required for installed pastors, it may be offered to:

  • any PC(USA) ministers serving congregations at least 20 hours per week 
  • commissioned pastors employed by congregations at the 20-hour minimum

The Congregational Pastors Package provides PPO medical coverage for congregational pastoral leaders, all the income protection benefits included in the Covenant Package, and access to assistance and education programs. Dues for the Congregational Pastors Package are 16% of effective salary for Member-only PPO medical coverage, plus 10% of effective salary for the income protection benefits (subject to minimum and maximum dues for medical coverage), paid entirely by the congregation.

Family medical coverage is optional, and congregations may continue to pay some or all of the costs of those options. Medical coverage dues for children, spouses, and eligible family are established as national, community-rated, fixed pricing and are the same regardless of the number of children enrolled. These costs can be found on the website

Ministers serving outside of congregational settings, who are not eligible for the Congregational Pastors Package, will elect benefits from the selection their employer offers its employees. 

Transitional option

The agency has provided for a transitional dues option. Congregations and employers will have the choice of providing Transitional Pastor’s Participation to any minister who is enrolled in Pastor’s Participation as of Dec. 31, 2024. 

Dues for this transitional option will be paid entirely by the congregation or employer. For 2025, dues for Transitional Pastor’s Participation are 33% of effective salary for medical coverage, plus 10% of effective salary for income protection benefits. This option, subject to annual dues increases, will sunset Dec. 31, 2027. Additional details are available on the website

Support for innovative ministries 

The Board of Pensions continues to support ministry by encouraging innovation through dues incentive programs. In 2025, the agency will add the Shared Ministry Program, providing benefits support when two or more congregations partner to create a full-time call for a minister of the Word and Sacrament and sign a covenant with the Board of Pensions.

New forms and contexts will be supported as ideas surface from within the Church. The agency has set aside funding for these yet unidentified new concepts as it works with the Church to meet new needs. 

“We recognize contexts of ministry are emerging and changing,” Dr. Spencer said. “The Board is committed to support those who are reimagining church to better align with the needs of an ever-evolving and diverse Church.”

Board of Pensions guidance 

Congregations and presbyteries are encouraged to have conversations with congregational pastoral leaders about their benefits needs, and Church Consultants are available to provide guidance in these conversations. Anyone with questions may also call the Board of Pensions at 800-PRESPLAN (800-773-7752) (TTY: 711).

About the Board of Pensions

The Board of Pensions is a nonprofit agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The agency partners with PC(USA) churches, agencies, and affiliated employers — including colleges and universities; camps and conference centers; retirement and senior housing communities; and human service organizations — to offer robust benefits and services to more than 65,000 individuals. As a nonprofit defined by faith, the Board of Pensions supports mutual care and wholeness. It’s joined a sustainable and churchwide commitment to address racism and systemic injustice.