April 22, 2024



Greetings, friends,


If I might yank the words of the great American poet, John Dylan, out of context and apply them to a new situation, then… (as he sang):


Come rather round people wherever you roam,

and admit that the waters around you have grown,

And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone.


If your time is worth saving then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a ‘changin.’


These immortal words could be applied to myriad situations in our world but today I apply them to the significant changes recently announced by the Board of Pensions of the PCUSA to the BOP benefits and health care plans.


I’ll try to summarize the salient changes as briefly as I can:


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.

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.


The good news in this new plan is that many more pastoral leaders serving our churches can be covered. Commissioned ruling elders, for example, can now, at an affordable cost, be enrolled in the BOP plan if they are serving at least 20 hours a week. This is great news indeed because increasingly our churches are being pastored by other than ordained clergy.


Those pastors and their congregations who are ordained clergy and happen to have a spouse and/or children will see their costs of enrollment increase significantly. I am told that this is because there are so few pastors this affects, though it may certainly be a disincentive to getting many more in that demographic bracket (my editorial aside).


Finally, the BOP is offering a Transitional plan designed to give churches and pastors time to make these adjustments over a three-year period.


Our Committee on Ministry met with Keenan Rodgers, our BOP representative, at their early April meeting to hear the outlines of the plan, ask questions, and begin to explore how the COM might assist congregations and pastors going forward. One result is that Keenan will be offering two follow-up sessions for our presbytery:


Wednesday, May 15 at 4:00pm at Southminster Presbyterian Church, Birmingham and Thursday, May 16 at 9:30am at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Montgomery.


Invitations are being sent out from the BOP directly. I highly recommend taking advantage of these sessions and encouraging your treasurer, finance people and/or admin staff to attend as well. Keenan will also be available to set up individual appointments. You can call him at 215.341.8143 or email him at krodgers@pensions.org to set up those appointments.


Our Board of Pensions has served the church faithfully since 1717 and are seeking to be faithful in this time as well. They are our partners in ministry and operate with a robust theology of their work which you can read here: https://www.pensions.org/our-role-and-purpose/about-us/theology-of-benefits#:~:text=A%20Theology%20of%20Benefits%20reads,and%20the%20Word%20was%20God.


To return to Bob Dylan: “If your time is worth saving then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, For the times they are a ‘changin.’


Your COM is swimming (!) and will be assisting us all in these roily waters ahead!


As ever in prayer,



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