Ministering to a flock today is especially challenging. Attendance patterns are shifting, hybrid meetings are now common, and there are expectations for online worship — all on top of the personal stress associated with the pandemic we’ve all experienced. With this being Pastor Appreciation Month, and Pastor Appreciation Day on October 9, it’s a good time to think about minister well-being.
At the Board of Pensions, we see well-being as wholeness in four areas: spiritual, health, financial, and vocational. This view follows God’s wish that each of us experience the flourishing of life. The benefits and programs we offer reflect our commitment to supporting wholeness in our members, including ministers.
But ministers only receive Board of Pensions support if they are enrolled in the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). And the cost of enrolling ministers in the plan can be out of reach for some congregations. That’s why, in the last six years, we’ve brought ministers into the plan through dues incentive programs that assist employers with the cost of Pastor’s Participation, the comprehensive benefits package. That’s also why we added a second, less costly package that provides financial protection, Minister’s Choice. There are many ways to obtain health coverage today, but this kind of financial protection is unavailable from any commercial provider.
Minister’s Choice includes the Employee Assistance Plan, to provide support for emotional health, along with help on any number of needs, for ministers and anyone in their household. Minister’s Choice, with over 330 enrollees, also gives access to programs that had been open only to ministers in Pastor’s Participation. One of those is the weeklong CREDO conference, which guides ministers through discernment in all four areas of wholeness. Both minister benefits packages open the door to sabbatical grants, debt assistance, and any of the other Assistance Program grants available to eligible plan members.
We are not done coming up with ways to enable more ministers to receive well-being support. The benefits and programs available through the Board of Pensions help support ministers so they are free to devote their best gifts to ministry. It is God’s wish that each of us flourish in life, including our teachers of faith, and we’re going to do what we can to make that possible.
Grace and peace,
The Reverend Dr. Frank Clark Spencer