I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well and safe, and that you were able to enjoy the Independence Day holiday weekend.
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.
In spite of the long disruption in our prior business routine, we continue to move forward in what is becoming our “new normal.”
We need your assistance! Please, use our Pension Boards Online Bill Payment Portal!
Fewer colleagues in our offices means that physical checks sent to our corporate office create a manual processing challenge for us, and increases costs for all members! Using the portal to pay online streamlines the billing process and contributes to our “go-green” efforts by eliminating paper invoices. If you do pay by check, please be sure to include your payment “stub” and forward the check to: Pension Boards-UCC, 75 Remittance Drive, Suite 1592, Chicago, IL 60675.
Our 2020 Summer Internship program is now in its third week.
Our four interns are fully immersed in their departmental assignments as well as in a capstone project they will present to the leadership team at the end of their internship experience. Please see the article below by Member Services intern Pratikshya Thakali.
The transition to the new UCC Medicare Advantage Plan w/Rx for plan year 2021 is on schedule.
Informational materials are available for your use. Please see the article below and check out this link for additional information.
Two weeks ago, I reported that the Pension Boards had engaged an external facilitator to lead our entire staff team in a series of restorative racial justice sessions. I am pleased to announce that the first of four Sacred Conversations to End Racism (SC2ER) was held earlier this week. The Sacred Conversations reflect a commitment we made in our Pastoral Reflection on Racism – a commitment to and with you and the wider United Church of Christ to join together in the important work of racial justice and reconciliation. We will keep you updated in future messages.
Annuity Plan members with non-annuitized accounts who have been impacted by COVID-19, as defined in the CARES Act, may take hardship withdrawals between now and the end of the year. Additional information is provided in the article directly below.
Second quarter account statements for members with accumulation accounts in the Annuity Plan will be available for viewing and downloading on the Pension Boards’ member portal the week of July 13. If you have not yet set up your account on the portal, click here to be directed to the instructions for first-time logins. You will need your seven-digit Pension Boards Member ID number.
We are grateful for your ministry, and for your partnership with the Pension Boards. Stay well!
Brian R. Bodager
Under the CARES Act, non-annuitized members who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 (as defined in the Act) are eligible to take hardship withdrawals from their retirement accounts. The following provisions apply for members of the Annuity Plan for the United Church of Christ:
Earlier this year, the Benefits Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Pension Boards selected Humana, Inc. as the UCC Medical Plan’s vendor partner to administer a new UCC Medicare Advantage Plan w/Rx, effective January 1, 2021. The new plan will replace the current UCC Medicare Supplement Plan w/Rx.
In the video presentation below our Health Plan Team discusses the new Plan, including new benefits that will be available, such as Silver Sneakers membership and coverage for illness during international travel. Also watch for more information by mail and email in the coming months.
“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.
As many as 45 million people today are trapped in modern forms of slavery, including forced labor. Victims typically work in inhuman conditions for little or no pay as part of the global supply chain. Many of the consumer goods we use in our everyday lives are tainted by forced labor including food, clothing, and electronics.
Adidas is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of sporting shoes and apparel, and it is one of the multinational companies identified by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute as linked to forced labor by Uighurs in factories across China. Uighurs are a persecuted ethnic minority from China’s western Xinjiang region; an estimated 80,000 of them were relocated to factories across the country between 2017 and 2019. The Uighur factory workers undergo constant surveillance and are forced to live in segregated dormitories. They are also forbidden to practice their religion, are unable to go home, and are required to undergo ideological training outside of working hours.
A group of faith- and values-based investors, including the Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ, requested information from Adidas on any direct or indirect relationship the company has with factories involved in the state-sponsored forced-labor scheme. Adidas denies having any such relationships and points to its adoption of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights and the Due Diligence Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development as its framework for corporate responsibility.
Click here to read the full article >>
I have been interning at the Pensions Boards for almost three weeks now and so far, the experience has been incredible. I am working with the Member Services team along with my mentor Maria Soto, Senior Benefits Representative. The department serves members by addressing concerns related to their accounts. Currently, we are working on a project to navigate the OMNI billing system – a training tool to better understand the system and provide efficient service. I am receiving feedback from the Member Services team on issues encountered using the system; their responses are enabling me to critically think about how to make OMNI better for our members. My favorite part has been the space and flexibility to bring my creativity to the table and have my thoughts be heard. I think that’s really important to foster growth and am grateful to be part of a team that values my input. In addition, knowing that we operate at the intersection of faith and finance – and actually seeing it in action in the ways we do that by caring for our members, putting their needs first, and being socially responsible – is just really humbling.
MFVI helps UCC ministers address financial problems in two ways: 1) through a three-year online program of financial education and cash incentives and, 2) through a matching grant partnership with the minister’s employing church, Association, or Conference.
Applications and information for MFVI Program One (online program of financial education) are now available. The program will accept 60 new members in two cohorts and because of the Lilly Endowment’s generosity, we are now able to open the application process to all UCC authorized ministers.
Applications for Program Two (matching grants) are accepted on a rolling basis and are also available. Authorized ministers in congregational settings are encouraged to apply now.
Generations Financial Resources, Inc., a controlled subsidiary of the Pension Boards, is a lending corporation to help alleviate the crushing burden of clergy indebtedness. Operating in coordination with the Minister’s Financial Vitality Initiative launched by the Pension Boards in 2017, it will combine personal finance education, needs-based grants to reduce debt levels, and most significantly, low-interest rate refinancing to substantially reduce the rates that our clergy are paying on their educational debt.
For professional and unbiased one-on-one guidance on retirement planning, call an Ernst & Young LLP (EY) financial planner. EY Financial Planning Services is a Pension Boards benefit offered at no cost to Annuity Plan members. Call the EY Navigate Financial Planner Line at 1.877.927.1047 or visit pbucc.eynavigate.com to learn more.
If you are experiencing a critical situation and need financial assistance, you may be eligible for an Emergency Grant from the Christmas Fund if you are:
If you meet the eligibility criteria described above, please contact your Conference staff, who will then reach out to Rev. Krista Betz, the Director of Ministerial Assistance, to begin the process. UCBMA can respond to the increasing requests for assistance because of the generosity of individuals and congregations to the Christmas Fund.
Each year, our Christmas in July appeal for gifts to the Christmas Fund allows the United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance to keep pace with requests for help from those who serve the church. This year of pandemic, that need is acute and urgent. Whether you have been supporting the Christmas Fund for years, responded to one of those recent email appeals with a gift, or have never donated before, our siblings need you now more than ever. A gift of any size can make a huge difference in the life of a stressed colleague. Your gift could make all the difference.
You can choose to give online, or make checks payable to UCBMA, earmarked for The Christmas Fund, then mail to: Pension Boards-United Church of Christ, Christmas Fund, 75 Remittance Drive, Suite 1637, Chicago, IL 60675.
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We strongly recommend that you take advantage of our online billing portals. Paying your monthly invoice electronically during this time is even more important. The Pension Boards online portal allows payments to be automatically applied to your account; it's simple, quick, and easy!
If you are unable to make your monthly payment online, it is essential that you include the remittance section from your invoice or include your employer or member ID on the check, and to mail your check to 75 Remittance Drive, Suite 1592, Chicago, IL 60675-1592.
Please do not send checks for Annuity Plan pension contributions and Health Plan premiums to the Pension Boards at 475 Riverside Drive. Not mailing your check to our bank’s lockbox in Chicago or including your remittance slip or including an ID on the check will result in delays on posting payments to your account.
If you have not already set up an employer account on our website, click here to register for online bill payment. Select the New User link to register. You will need to have a valid email address on file with the Pension Boards. If we do not have a valid email address, please contact our Member Services team at 1.800.642.6543. If a valid email address is on file, follow the steps to set up your account and create a password. Once registered, follow the steps below to pay your invoice:
Log into www.pbucc.org and sign in to your account.
Our full Member Services staff team is available as before to take your calls and answer any questions you may have. They may be reached at 1.800.642.6543 as well as on the online chat function on our website.