Board of Pensions Annual Enrollment

The annual enrollment period (Oct. 25 to Nov. 12) is open. From the Board of Pensions, “This is your opportunity to review and make changes to your current benefits to ensure you will have the coverage you want, and that best meets your needs, for 2022.  Now through November 12, log on to Benefits Connect to review your benefits options and costs for coverage effective January 1, 2022.”

You should be regularly checking your accounts; Benefits Connect for medical/pension, and Fidelity if you have a retirement savings account (RSA). You should log in to Benefits Connect and make sure the salary information submitted by your employer is up to date. If you have a RSA with Fidelity, you should check to make sure your requested contributions and, if applicable, employer contributions are being regularly deposited into your account.

That Time of Year

It’s beginning to look a lot like…time to begin thinking about/working on next year’s budget. To help with this, we have a couple of resources available to help with your budget development process. First is an article for Church Law & Tax titled “Tips for a More Effective Church Budgeting Process.” It contains key points to remember to help your church have a more successful process and an effective budget that supports your church’s goals. Second is information on creating a narrative budget document. Instead of presenting a budget that has columns, numbers, and a list of line items, a narrative budget tells a story of how the various components of the budget contribute the congregation’s missions and ministries. Please let me know if you would like either or both of these resources.

This time of year, or anytime for that matter, is a good time to review your church’s insurance coverage. You should speak with your insurance agent and ask for a meeting to review the church’s current coverage. Church Law & Tax (CLT) has some helpful guidance for reviewing and/or changing the church’s insurance coverage. Another resource is CLT Senior Editor Richard Hammer’s article on the types of coverage he considers essential for all churches.

If the church’s current insurance provider is not a company that specializes in church insurance (UCC Insurance Board, Brotherhood Mutual, Church Mutual, etc.), I recommend you check with one of these companies. My experience has been that they can provide better coverage, usually at less cost. If interested, I have contact information for representatives of the three listed above.

Free Information from Church Law & Tax

How prepared is your church to handle a variety of situations affecting finances? Church Law & Tax have several free checklists to help churches answer this question. They are here and include:

  • “Are We Practicing Safe Fundraising?”
  • “Are We Violating Copyright Law?”
  • “Do We Follow Sound Employment Practices?”
  • “How to Select Church Insurance?”
  • “Is Your Data Left Unguarded?”

Additionally, check out Cybersecurity: What Churches Need to Know.

Church Financial Leadership Grants Available

From the Presbyterian Foundation: Grants are available to assist pastors to attend continuing education opportunities, which will help them in leading their congregations toward financial and missional vitality. Click for more information. Church stewardship team members are encouraged to apply with their pastors. Download and complete the grant application. Grant applications may take up to four weeks to process.

The Presbyterian Foundation also has additional resources, tools, and other support to provide pastors and church leaders help “to address the financial and leadership challenges of congregational ministry and mission in the 21st century.”  We encourage you to visit their website to see what is available and how it may help your church.

From the Board of Pensions Connections Newsletter

Directors’ vote propels Assistance Program toward greater inclusivity
The Board of Directors approved the addition of Minister Debt Relief to the Assistance Program, expanded assistance eligibility, and increased grant amounts. All changes are effective January 1, 2022.

Minister Debt Relief is a three-year pilot program for ministers earning less than the median effective salary ($62,100 for 2022). Program applicants must be enrolled for Minister’s Choice or Pastor’s Participation. The program will provide 150 grants a year, for up to $10,000 each.

The agency also expanded eligibility for assistance grants. One example of this is Transition-to-College Assistance, income-based aid for dependents of active members of the Medical Plan or Defined Benefit Pension Plan. Currently, it is available only for students enrolled full-time in a four-year college or university. With the change, a student enrolled for any post-high school education or training, part-time or full-time, may be eligible.

Directors also loosened requirements for Income and Housing supplements, which provide valuable support to retirees and surviving spouses.

See more details on the Assistance Program expansion.

Christmas gifts going to retirees and surviving spouses
Directors approved the annual Christmas gift for retirees and surviving spouses who are receiving Housing and Income supplements from the Assistance Program as of November 1, 2021. Single recipients will receive $350 and couples $700. Last year, Directors approved a 40 percent increase in the Christmas gifts, the first increase since 2004. The annual gifts are always greatly appreciated, with many recipients saying they made Christmastime gift-giving possible.

2021 Special Offerings Calendar

Here is the calendar for the four churchwide Special Offerings of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), of which only one remains:

CHRISTMAS JOY: Nov. 28 to Dec. 19

NOTE: Donations to these offerings are accepted at any time. The dates above are for times of special emphasis on the offerings. Click here for more information or to order resources, or call the PC(USA) Store at 800-533-4371.