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During the season of rebuilding, our goal is to make the necessary changes to provide greater flexibility and cost control for congregations as they care for the well-being of their pastoral leadership. Check back regularly for resources and tools that will help you better understand our work. 

Changing Benefits for a Changing Church​

The Reverend Dr. Frank Clark Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions, discussed recommendations for a Benefits Plan redesign at the 2023 Polity, Benefits, and Mission Conference.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

The Board of Pensions is committed to assessing the Benefits Plan’s structure to best meet the needs of the transforming Church and to serve the most people possible by offering congregations more flexible options. The Board’s goal is to develop new, inclusive administrative structures that support the Church as a whole and that serve more, including those who have historically been excluded, with benefits that support well-being. The Board’s vision is for all ministers ordained in the PC(USA) to be plan members.

Changes are necessary to provide flexibility and cost control for congregations. Rising healthcare costs and dwindling church membership, combined with a dues structure that hasn’t changed in nearly 40 years, have contributed to affordability challenges for many congregations. Congregations are losing members and, with them, financial resources. As a result, fewer and fewer churches can afford a pastor, and the number of ministers who are active in the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is declining. We must act now to address the urgent needs of the Church.

No. Any restructuring of the Benefits Plan will not affect the design of the Pension Plan, which remains strong. The funded status of the plan was 150 percent at year-end 2022, enabling our Board of Directors to grant a 4.2 percent experience apportionment, effective July 1, 2023. This marks the 11th consecutive year with an experience apportionment, yielding a cumulative increase of 40.3 percent since 2013. 

We are not yet at final decisions. We continue working toward a revised approach to caring for pastoral leaders, anticipating January 1, 2025, as the effective date for a redesigned plan. Our Board of Directors will meet in March 2024, and in April 2024, we will post dues rates, the redesigned Benefits Plan, and updated FAQs. We plan to gather mid council leaders in May 2024 for Board leaders to outline the new plan design, pricing structure, and implementation plan. Presbytery meetings, discernment, and engagement with congregations are expected to continue through summer 2024. Meanwhile, we have developed recommendations that would enhance income protection plans, provide choice in healthcare coverage, create parity for all employees, subsidize small churches, create transparency in pricing, provide transition for those in Pastor’s Participation, and support innovative ministries. The Reverend Dr. Frank Clark Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions, presented recommendations, including for the Medical Plan, at the Polity, Benefits, and Mission Conference.

Engagement with the Church continues to be critical in considering new approaches to benefits. We met with over 1,000 PC(USA) leaders in the first eight months of the season of rebuilding initiative, and conversations continue. By the end of summer 2023, more than 500 people had participated in our Virtual Town Halls. The feedback gathered in these conversations guided the development of proposed recommendations that the Reverend Dr. Frank Clark Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions, presented at the Polity, Benefits, and Mission Conference in October 2023.

We will continue to offer coverage for spouses and dependents. For members enrolled in the noncontributory benefits package, the Board has proposed allowing employers to choose whether to provide noncontributory coverage for eligible family. The decision on providing noncontributory coverage for family would be based on the needs of the congregation and of the congregational pastoral leader. For example, if a minister’s spouse is employed, their employer may offer medical coverage that would be a better financial choice for the minister’s family than the PPO coverage available through the Board. Family members must be enrolled for the same Medical Plan option as the minister. So, for installed ministers, who would continue to receive noncontributory PPO coverage, their family would have to enroll in the PPO if they chose to receive coverage through the Board. The Reverend Dr. Frank Clark Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions, presented proposed recommendations at the Polity, Benefits, and Mission Conference in October 2023.

Currently, ministers in installed positions must receive PPO coverage through the minister’s noncontributory benefits package. Under the proposed changes, ministers in installed positions would still have to be enrolled for the noncontributory benefits package, including PPO coverage. Ministers who are not installed under G-2.0504(a) and are serving in congregational settings and commissioned pastors serving in congregational settings would be eligible for the noncontributory benefits package if they work 20 or more hours weekly. However, congregations would not be required to enroll them in the noncontributory benefits package. If these congregational pastoral leaders are not enrolled in the noncontributory package, they would be able to select from the medical coverage options their congregation offers. Ministers not serving congregations would not be eligible for the noncontributory benefits package. If they work 20 or more hours weekly, they would select medical coverage from the options their employer offers. Employers may offer one, two, or all three medical coverage options.

An HDHP is currently one of three coverage options available through the Board and would continue to be offered, along with a health savings account option. Congregations may offer the HDHP, the PPO, the EPO or all three to any employee scheduled to work 20 or more hours weekly, including ministers who are not in installed positions. The HDHP monthly premiums are lower than those for the PPO or EPO, but the deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums are higher. The PPO, which provides the highest level of coverage and offers the most flexibility, is the only option available through the Board that is income sensitive. PPO deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums are based on a member’s salary. In this way, congregations with the greatest resources help support the congregational leadership of those with the least.

Although no decisions have been made regarding a final plan design, the Board of Pensions is committed to providing transitional support for employers and members who might be affected by any potential change.  

The Board of Pensions is committed to serving congregations, their employees, and ministers of the Word and Sacrament with benefits and programming that support holistic well-being. Many of the Board’s current offerings may be made available to those who work less than full time. We have a team of Church Consultants whose job is to help churches make the most effective use of that menu of benefits. Find the Consultant for your region.  

No, the Benefits Plan of the PC(USA) is an employer plan. To be eligible for the plan, an individual has to be employed by the Church or one of its affiliated organizations, and their employer must offer them plan benefits through the Board of Pensions. Employees of the Church include those who serve its national agencies and mid councils as well as congregations. PC(USA)-affiliated organizations include educational institutions, camps and conference centers, retirement and senior housing communities, and human services organizations.

Yes. The Benefits Plan will remain rooted in A Theology of Benefits, detailed in the Church’s values, specifically: community nature, compassion, justice, and fair compensation.

Over the next two years, we will work toward a revised approach to caring for ordained ministers, anticipating an effective date of January 1, 2025.