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.”
This week marks the end of our 2020 Summer Internship Program. Early in the pandemic, executive leadership discussed whether the program would be feasible this year, and a decision was made to be adaptive and agile and create a new model that reflected the realities of the times. This week, the interns presented their joint capstone project and we look forward to implementing their recommendations. In addition to the capstone, each intern worked on a departmental project in their assigned work area, and reports from their leaders have been very positive. I invite you to watch these brief videos from Finance Intern Elise Nguyen and IT Intern Jason Vail.
The internship program provides a valuable hands-on learning experience to young persons at the start of their careers, and is also part of our organizational commitment to building next generation leadership by identifying top talent and building a “pipeline” for our future. We encourage you to watch for information about next year’s program, and refer potential candidates to us at that time. Information about the 2021 application process will be available in the Fall on our website.
For the past several months, we have encouraged all UCC employers and self-paying members who are not already doing so to use the Online Payment Portals. As we move toward implementation of a new accounting platform later this year, online payment is the new standard for paying benefits invoices. Paying invoices online is secure and ensures that payments are credited to accounts in real time. If you are not yet enrolled, please see the article Online Payment Portal for Members and Employers, to get started today.
Applications for the Ministers’ Financial Vitality Initiative (MFVI) are available on our website. There are two options:
Be well, and stay safe.
Brian R. Bodager
Responses to our Christmas Fund special appeal and the Christmas in July annual appeal were outstanding! We are thankful that, even in the midst of a pandemic, donations are up over last year. We use these gifts in support of those who serve the church in times of abundance and in times of need—authorized ministers, Members in Discernment, and lay employees, as well as their surviving spouses and partners. The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented levels of need among them, which we address though Ministerial Assistance emergency grants.
The number of recipients of emergency grants and the total dollar amount distributed has risen approximately 300% over the same time last year. Numbers, however, are poor story-tellers. Human needs are met and lives are touched as generous giving is matched with grace-filled receiving.
In the course of a single recent week we assisted six ministers whose congregations were no longer able to pay them because of severe declines in donations. Several chaplains who were laid off due to pandemic-related downsizing received grants--one was a single mother in the process of accessing unemployment insurance. We were there for retirees who depended on income from supply preaching and found themselves in financial difficulty when those opportunities dried up, and for an individual whose search and call process stalled because of the pandemic and who faced an eviction notice.
There have also been a number of non-COVID-19 emergencies that we responded to over the past several months. We assisted with funeral expenses and medical debt. We stood with clergy transitioning from one call to another who were faced with moving expenses, apartment down payments, and gaps in health insurance coverage.
It’s often uncomfortable for those serving in the church to ask for help; they typically see themselves and are seen by others as help givers, not help receivers. According to one pastor, “It wasn’t easy picking up the telephone to share with you my present situation. In fact, it was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life, although it reminded me that grace still happens. Sometimes we as clergy persons lose sight of God’s grace when the negative stuff comes into our lives.”
Giving and receiving are both acts of grace. As Mr. Rogers put it: “All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”
The Christmas Fund for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund brings help-givers and help-receivers together for the benefit of all. Thank you to everyone who assists the United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance in making that connection.
Rev. Dr. James Moos
Executive Director, Faith and Finance Ministries
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:
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.
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:
Watch for more details by postal mail and email in the coming weeks.
Online payment is the New Standard for the Pension Boards. Please transition your monthly payment to our online portals today!
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.
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.
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.
EY Financial Planning Services is a Pension Boards benefit offered at no cost to Annuity Plan members (actively-contributing, inactive, and annuitized). 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 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.
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.