Latest News During Office Closure

Here are the latest updates from PBUCC during the COVID-19 global emergency.



 

September 11 Update from the Pension Boards

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well and safe, and that you enjoyed the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Today marks the 19th anniversary of the tragic September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Let us take a few moments today to honor the memories of all who lost their lives that day.

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September 3 Update from the Pension Boards

As the Labor Day holiday approaches, we remember and honor those American workers who paved the way for workers’ rights in our country. The holiday also traditionally marks the end of summer, with vacations behind us, and a return to work, school, and for many, regular worship schedules and activities at church.

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August 28 Update from the Pension Boards

I have an important request to make of all of you, our members and employers!

Over the past several weeks, you have seen messages – both from me and from the Pension Boards’ Member Services staff – encouraging employers and self-paying members to transition to online payment of their benefits invoices. You may remember reading that online payment is the new standard for the Pension Boards.

At this time, I would like to request that each of you begin making your payments using our online payment portal!

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August 20 Update from the Pension Boards

Since we began sending you these weekly updates in March, our goal has been to keep you informed about your benefits, available programs, and process changes while assuring you that all Pension Boards' business operations are moving forward as they were before the start of the pandemic.

You have heard from us. Now, we want to hear from you!

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August 14 Update from the Pension Boards

Dear Friends,

Navigating a crisis early on requires safety, caution, and agility. As the Pension Boards has carried out our work these past 22 weeks, we have done so carefully and with flexibility. As we look to the future and how we will emerge in a post-COVID context, we are laying a solid foundation for how best to serve you in a “new normal.”

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August 7 Update from the Pension Boards

As we come to the end of the 21st week since the closure of our offices in New York and Cleveland in mid-March, our colleagues are working successfully and efficiently under the present circumstances to modernize key processes, manage day-to-day operations in their respective departments and advance our organizational strategic objectives.

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July 31 Update from the Pension Boards

When the Pension Boards’ physical offices closed and staff began to work remotely, we were focused on responding to your immediate concerns about COVID-19. Throughout the past four months, we have also continued with our day-to-day operations, adapting, however remaining focused on our strategic initiatives.

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July 24 Update from the Pension Boards

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
(John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy,” 1980)

These words, written and sung by John Lennon 40 years ago to his then-five-year-old son, carry a message for the present times. Many of our “best laid plans” changed in recent months because of circumstances beyond our control. Yet, these unexpected deviations from the courses we imagined and planned have also been rich with new insights, learnings, and ways of doing what we do. In your congregations and ministry settings, many of you had to move from in-person worship and meetings to live-streaming and video conferencing. You created new ways of serving compassionately and effectively that will likely influence the way you carry out your mission in the future.

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July 16 Update from the Pension Boards

A recent social media post encouraged congregations that were preparing to resume in-person worship to not speak about re-opening, but instead about re-gathering. We now are halfway through July, and four months into our request that our colleagues work remotely. The Pension Boards, like churches and many other places of work and ministry, has never closed. As we continue to slowly test our plan for re-gathering in our office spaces, we continue to use systems, technology, and most important – care and compassion – to serve you, our members and employers.

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July 10 Update from the Pension Boards

It is hard to believe that we are now at the end of our seventeenth week since our offices closed on March 16. A few staff colleagues performing essential tasks are on site daily; however, the majority of our colleagues continue to telework efficiently, and remain focused on serving you.

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All God’s Children Got Shoes: Using Our Corporate Social Responsibility Witness Toward Freedom and Dignity

“I got shoes, you got shoes, all God’s children got shoes.”
African American Spiritual

Basic necessities such as shoes and decent clothing were rare among slaves, but expressions of protest and hope were not. The meaning of the spiritual I Got Shoes was hidden from the oppressors but clear to those who sang it as they worked the fields: outrage at the cruel treatment of those who had no right to declare ownership of human beings, and confidence that justice would ultimately prevail. The day would come when they would attain freedom and dignity; all of God’s children would get shoes.

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July 1 Update from the Pension Boards

When the office closure began on March 16, none of us anticipated that we would still be working from home at this time. Now, the summer is in full swing, and we are coming up on the Fourth of July at the end of this week. Please note that the Pension Boards will be closed on Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day, reopening on Monday, July 6.

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June 26 Update from the Pension Boards

Two weeks ago, we published A Pastoral Reflection on Racism, the Pension Boards’ statement in response to the killing of George Floyd and the many other African Americans who have died as a result of racist violence. Our statement was both a theological reflection and a commitment to action.

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June 19 Update from the Pension Boards

Last year marked the first time the Pension Boards offered a Summer Internship Program. The 2019 experience was a resounding success, as shown in the reflections from the inaugural cohort. Two of the initial interns began their careers with the PBUCC staff team following graduation. When the pandemic made it necessary for us to work from home, the executive leadership team carefully considered whether the program could be offered this summer. Although circumstances were not what we had envisioned, and despite the unanticipated challenges, leadership remained committed to moving forward and our 2020 summer interns will begin their work with us starting June 22. Our goal as an organization is to provide a high-achieving group of college students and recent graduates the opportunity to work together with senior leaders and mentors toward specific, agreed-upon tasks while at the same time learning how their skills and capabilities contribute to advancing the Pension Boards’ mission and ministry of serving you from the intersection of Faith and Finance.

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A Pastoral Reflection on Racism

I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
– Ezekiel 37:5

I can’t breathe.

These were the final words of George Floyd, who was murdered at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis. The same words were uttered by other persons of color who died of asphyxiation at the hands of police. The words have been adopted by the Black Lives Matter movement and are chanted by protestors in the U.S. and beyond in their demand for racial justice. The Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ joins in that demand; we condemn racism in all of its forms and commit ourselves to action.

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June 11 Update from the Pension Boards

This week, our message to you focuses on one issue very much in the hearts and minds of our church at this time. We wish to share with you the following Pastoral Reflection on Racism, prepared by, and with the full support of, the Pension Boards’ leadership team. The trustees and staff of the Pension Boards renew our commitment to racial justice, and to creating a just world for all.

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June 3 Update from the Pension Boards

Each week since the closure of the Pension Boards’ offices in mid-March, we have provided updates to let you – our members and employers – know how our work on your behalf continues, and to provide information about benefits, services, and other resources available in this time.

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May 28 Update from the Pension Boards

We hope that you and your loved ones had an opportunity for rest during the Memorial Day weekend. Many of you are working differently as a result of the pandemic – leading virtual worship services, working from home, caring for school-age children and elderly family members. We pray that you are finding time for respite and self-care in the midst of all that you are doing.

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May 19 Update from the Pension Boards

All of us at the Pension Boards continue to pray that you and your loved ones remain well and safe. Our executive team remains focused on developing a re-entry plan that ensures our colleagues remain healthy and safe once state and local restrictions are lifted.

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May 12 Update from the Pension Boards

As the Pension Boards staff enters into our ninth week of sheltering in place and working remotely, we continue to pray that you and your loved ones are well and safe. Our executive team remains focused developing a re-entry plan that ensures our colleagues remain healthy and safe once state and local restrictions are lifted.

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May 5 Update from the Pension Boards

As we reported in last week’s update, although our staff team continues to work from home, the executive team has begun planning for a gradual re-entry into our offices at a date to be determined in accordance with state and local mandates. Our return to the office will be implemented carefully and thoughtfully to ensure the safety of our colleagues. Additional information will be shared with you once the plan is in place.

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Health Plan COVID-19 Resources

The UCC Medical Benefits Plan has added new coverage and services to assist members in staying well during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read more on:

  • COVID-19 testing,
  • COVID-19 antibody testing, and
  • Mental and Emotional Wellness in a Time of Crisis.


April 29 Update from the Pension Boards

We pray that these messages continue to find you and your loved ones healthy and safe.

Pension Boards staff continue to work remotely in accordance with New York State directives. Our executive team has begun planning for the eventual re-entry into our offices, but at this time we cannot say with certainty when that will be. Be assured that all staff are operating at full capacity during this period of isolation. Please read the message from Rev. Rick Walters, Associate General Counsel and Director of Corporate Social Responsibility (below) for a reflection on how the Pension Boards is ministering to you during the coronavirus pandemic.

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April 21 Update from the Pension Boards

Dear Friends,

We pray that these messages continue to find you and your loved ones healthy and safe.

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April 14 Update from the Pension Boards

April 14, 2020

Dear Friends,

We hope you and your loved ones experienced a joyous and blessed Easter. We continue to pray that these messages find you healthy and safe.

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April 7 Update from the Pension Boards

April 7, 2020

Dear Friends,

We continue to pray that these messages find you and your loved ones healthy and safe.

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1st Quarter 2020 Update Commentary

Published April 7, 2020

Financial markets have had a weak start to 2020, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) registering the weakest three-month period since the last three months of 1987, which included a 22.5% one-day decline. This quarter, the index was down 19.6%. (As a reminder, this follows a +31.5% performance in 2019).

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Additional Online Information and Resources About Benefits Under the CARES Act

Published: April 2, 2020

The links below provide helpful information for members and churches/employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:

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CARES Act - Frequently Asked Questions

Published: April 1, 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law and enacted on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act is the third of three stimulus bills to address the growing economic distress being caused by COVID-19, particularly on small businesses. There is the potential for more stimulus bills to be passed in the coming months as Congress discusses what to do as the distress deepens. Specific to pastors, ministerial employees, and the wider church community, the CARES Act makes accommodations for religious groups that past economic stimulus actions did not include.

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Update from the Pension Boards

Published: March 31, 2020

Dear Friends, In the midst of all that is going on in our world, we pray that this message finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe.

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A Message from the Executive Director of Faith and Finance Ministries

Rev. Dr. James Moos

March 27, 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic and the economy are moving in opposite directions: as the virus spreads, the economy contracts. Only when the virus is contained and lockdowns abate can we work our way back to economic growth. There is, however, another understanding of economics that is already guiding us in hope-filled directions.

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A Message for Churches and Employers from the Pension Boards General Counsel



info icon 2The Pension Boards has received several inquiries about the recently- issued legislation and guidance concerning COVID-19, especially provisions bearing on benefits, church employees, including clergy and lay workers, and health plans. We are in the process of evaluating the specific impact of these provisions on our benefit plans and for our members. We will keep you updated through these communications and on the Pension Boards website (www.pbucc.org).

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Markets: What is Happening?



Financial markets have been weak in 2020, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) at -20% year-to-date. (As a reminder, this follows a +31.5% performance in 2019).

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An Update from the Pension Boards



Dear Friends, The Pension Boards is beginning its second week of remote operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week witnessed the continuation of rapidly changing conditions in both global health and fluctuations in the global economy. At the Pension Boards, we have long been committed to working in ways that are agile, consistent, and conversant. I am pleased to report that this commitment, which informs our organizational culture and operations, has allowed us to adapt quickly and effectively to meet your needs. The collective effort of the entire Pension Boards staff enables us to keep our business operations going smoothly.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE: PLEASE SEND ALL BENEFIT PAYMENT CHECKS TO NORTHERN TRUST



During this time when the Pension Boards physical offices are closed:

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The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Investment Management and Business Update

In this Q&A, the Pension Boards outlines how we continue to manage our business through the current situation related to COVID-19. We want to assure you that we are monitoring the situation, responding quickly, collaborating internally and externally, and that all our management practices and process are intact.

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Message From The Pension Boards

March 16, 2020

Dear Friends,

Our thoughts have been with you, our members, as we live into the changing daily realities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it has been the suspension of worship services in your congregation, school closings affecting your children, or social distancing from others, all of us are being impacted in some way by this public health crisis.

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Important Update: Assurance of Continued Annuity Payments

March 16, 2020

The Pension Boards-United Church of Christ has announced the temporary closing of its offices at 475 Riverside Drive effective today and for a period of up to three weeks, due to the varying degrees of severity and complexity of COVID-19 in New York City and surrounding areas.

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What has happened in the last three weeks?

March 16, 2020

The U.S equity market peaked on February 19, 2020, with the Standard & Poor’s Index of 500 stocks (S&P 500) reaching 3,386, and subsequently correcting to 2,480 on March 12, 2020, a 26.75% drop in merely three weeks. Moreover, volatility has been extreme, with circuit breakers (causing a pause in trading) hit twice in the cash market and twice in the futures market in one week.

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The Pension Boards Temporarily Closes Offices

New York, March 15, 2020 – The Pension Boards-United Church of Christ today announced the temporary closing of its offices at 475 Riverside Drive, for a period of up to three weeks, due to the varying degrees of severity and complexity of COVID-19 in New York City and surrounding areas.

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