August 7 Update from the Pension Boards

Dear Friends,

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.

You may be familiar with the Pension Boards’ Mission Statement, adopted by our Board of Trustees in 2016. At that time, the Board also adopted the following Vision Statement:

The Pension Boards delivers benefits and services from the intersection of faith and finance, providing clergy, lay employees, and all persons served with the peace of mind that comes through greater financial security and better health.

These words capture succinctly our purpose (to deliver benefits and services from the intersection of faith and finance), what we strive for (to provide our customers with peace of mind), and what we aim to achieve (greater financial security and better health for all whom we serve).

Our Board of Trustees is tasked with setting policy for the Pension Boards to implement and advance our mission, guided by our corporate vision. Their work has also continued, uninterrupted, in the past five months. You may recall that in May, our Annual Meeting and Board of Trustees meetings were held virtually. This week, the Executive, Personnel, Governance, and Investment Committees of the Board again met via videoconference, and it is likely that fourth-quarter meetings scheduled for November will also take place virtually.

Our Trustees and United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance (UCBMA) Directors recently also participated in a special session of Sacred Conversations to End Racism (SC2ER) facilitated by Dr. Velda Love, Minister for Racial Justice for the United Church of Christ. Our colleagues are also engaged in SC2ER as part of our organizational commitment to action to combat racism. The third colleague conversation occurred this week. Our Trustees, Directors, and colleagues affirm that these conversations are meaningful and insightful. The executive leadership team is currently developing next steps to continue anti-racism dialogue and further actions to engage our colleagues.

Week 7 of our Summer Internship program is drawing to a close. Our four interns will complete their work with the Pension Boards on August 14. All have done an excellent job working with their mentors and departments, and the organization as a whole appreciates the energy and creativity they have shared with us. The intern group will present their capstone project to executive leadership next week. I invite you to view a video testimonial from Member Services Intern, Pratikshya Thakali.


Thanks again to all employers and self-pay members who are using the online payment portal to pay for benefits. Automation of our billing process through the online payment portal is a key way in which we are working to serve you more efficiently. The online portal is the new standard for the Pension Boards. Please scroll down to the article, Online Payment Portal for Members and Employers, for more information and to get started.

Please do not hesitate to call us at 1.800.642.6543 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions. For the latest information, check our COVID-19 web page.

Be well, and stay safe.

Best regards,

Brian R. Bodager
President/CEO



Whose Responsibility?

At the time of this writing, over 160,000 Americans have died from the COVID-19 virus. A widely-cited model developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicts the death toll will surge to a quarter of a million by November. Who bears responsibility for taking effective action in the face of a raging pandemic?

To date, fingers have primarily pointed in two directions: governmental bodies and private citizens. Federal, state, and local governments are expected to supply critical resources, guidance, and coordination, while individuals are urged to take safety measures including social distancing and mask wearing. With the exception of the drug industry’s rush to create an effective vaccine, the role of corporations in combatting the pandemic and mitigating its social and economic impacts has not been widely reported. Lack of reporting does not mean there has been a lack of action.

Recently, 335 institutional investors with over $9.5 trillion combined under active management released the Investor Statement on Coronavirus Response. The Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ is a signatory.

The Investor Statement contains a five-point plan for businesses to protect workers in the midst of the crisis:

  • Make emergency paid leave available for all employees.
  • Prioritize worker health and safety.
  • Maintain employment to the greatest extent possible.
  • Keep supplier/customer relationships intact by making timely payments to suppliers and by working with customers who face financial challenges.
  • Operate with fiscal prudence by suspending share buybacks and limiting executive compensation for the duration of the crisis.

Additional measures encouraged in the Investor Statement include childcare assistance, hazard pay, and employer-paid health insurance premiums for laid-off workers. Such actions are intended to both slow the spread of the coronavirus and minimize the social and economic impact of the pandemic.

The Investor Statement is just one of many Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives that addresses the pandemic. Others include an investor call for additional protections for meat processing workers, an appeal for safeguards for workers in the apparel industry’s global supply chain, and a call for food and beverage companies to help mitigate the worst effects of COVID-19.

Who bears responsibility for taking effective action in the face of a raging pandemic? We all do, corporations included. The Pension Boards has been a leader in the CSR movement since its inception over 50 years ago with the founding of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. We will continue to join with other faith- and values-based investors to press powerful and influential corporations to develop policies and practices that will help to alleviate the effects of the pandemic and, ultimately, to eradicate it.

Rev. Dr. James Moos
Executive Director, Faith and Finance Ministries



Annuity Plan Account Distributions: Non-Annuitized Members with Balances Under $10,000

The Annuity Plan for the United Church of Christ plan document (section 4.06(a)) states that members who have not been active in the Plan for more than three months and who have a balance of less than $10,000 will receive a distribution of the entire account balance.

Starting this month, the Pension Boards United-Church of Christ will cash out the accounts of non-annuitized Annuity Plan members who are no longer working for a United Church of Christ (UCC) employer, Conference, Association, National Setting, or any UCC-affiliated organization, and for whom contributions are no longer being made to their Annuity Plan accounts. Distributions do not apply to annuitized members who rolled over a portion of their accumulation balances to a Retirement Savings Account (RSA) at the time of annuitization.

The distribution will be paid by our bank, The Northern Trust Company.

Members who qualify for the distribution:

  • have accumulation accounts that have not been annuitized (RSA accounts do not apply);
  • have less than $10,000 in their accumulation accounts;
  • are inactive;
  • have not been employed for three months or longer; and
  • are no longer contributing to the Annuity Plan.

You may view your vested account balance by logging into the PBUCC website member login portal, and signing into your account using your seven-digit Pension Boards Member ID number and password. If you have not yet created your online account, please follow the instructions on the member login portal.

For additional information or questions, please contact the Pension Boards Member Services at 1.800.642.6543 and follow the prompt for Member Services.



COVID-Related Hardship Withdrawals

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:

  • Members may request hardship withdrawals only from their personal employee pre-tax contributions (also known as contributions to the tax-sheltered annuity or TSA) or personal after-tax contributions or rollover contributions. Withdrawals may not be made from employer contributions.
  • Members may withdraw up to 50% of their account balances, with a maximum of $100,000.

Members who qualify for a withdrawal under these provisions may initiate a hardship withdrawal by logging into the PBUCC website member login portal. Once you have logged in, select the link at the top of the page next to Select a CARES Act Withdrawal and follow the instructions provided. Should you have any questions, you may contact our Member Services team for more information at 1.800.642.6543 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



UCC Medicare Advantage Plan w/ Rx

The Q&A video presentation below discusses the new UCC Medicare Advantage Plan with Rx, which will replace the current UCC Medicare Supplement Plan w/ Rx effective January 1, 2021. Please visit our new Medicare Advantage Plan w/ Rx web page. Click on the links below for additional information, and watch for more details in your mailbox and email inbox in the coming weeks.




Online Payment Portal for Members and Employers

Online payment is the New Standard for the Pension Boards. Please transition your monthly payment to our online portals today!

NOTE: September invoices will be available on the online portal at the end of the day on Friday, August 7.

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: Pension Boards-UCC, 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 Chicago address, or not including your remittance slip or including your Member ID on the check will result in delays on posting payments to your account.

Employers

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 the website at https://employers.pbucc.org/.
  • Select Billing, and then select View/Pay Bill to review your list of employees and invoice amounts.
  • If you agree with the total amount displayed, select Pay Now to pay your invoice.
  • Follow the prompts on the screen to set up your payments.

Members

Log into www.pbucc.org and sign in to your account.

  • Click on Pay My Benefit Bill on the Benefit Selection page.
  • Select Pay Bill on the left-hand side of the page.



Ministers’ Financial Vitality Initiative (MFVI)

MFVI helps UCC ministers achieve greater financial vitality 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. The deadline to apply is October 15, 2020.

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: A New Service for MFVI Participants

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.

If you are not yet in the MFVI program, we encourage you to apply (see above) and become eligible for Generations Financial Resources. For more information, watch this video, download this informational flyer, and contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Take Advantage of No-Cost Financial Planning Services

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.



Emergency Grants from the Christmas Fund

helping hand

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:

  • a currently Authorized Minister in the United Church of Christ;
  • a lay employee of a UCC congregation, Association, Conference, or National Setting with a minimum of 10 years of service;
  • a surviving spouse/partner of the above; or a
  • a Member in Discernment for at least a year.

If you meet the eligibility criteria described above, please contact your Conference staff, who will then reach out to Ministerial Assistance to begin the process. We are able to respond to the increasing requests for assistance because of the generosity of individuals and congregations to the Christmas Fund.



Member Services

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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.

During this time, please remember that you can fax or email documents and forms to us at 212.729.2701 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., respectively, avoiding delays that may occur with postal mail.


Stay informed. Visit the Pension Boards’ website, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.