Along with the leadership team and my colleagues at the Pension Boards, as well as many others in the wider church and throughout our world, I have been reflecting deeply about the questions presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Certainly, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on those struck by the disease, their families, caregivers, and communities, and our sincerest prayers go out to all of them. But as a ministry of the United Church of Christ that serves some 20,000 clergy and lay church workers and the many congregations and UCC-related organizations participating in our health, annuity, and other benefit plans, we are especially challenged with the questions posed by this crisis specifically to the church and what it may become on the other side of the darkness.
Many of our congregations, already challenged by economic pressures due to decline, changing demographics, new technology, and the high costs of old buildings – including insurance and deferred maintenance – are faced with the new pressures of virtual gatherings, reduced contributions and doing pastoral care while socially distancing. As if this were not difficult enough, government red tape and long lines for service even to seek the meager relief now available are extremely taxing on small staff congregations and part-time clergy already stretched to their limits.
What can we learn from this experience as a church, as a financial ministry of the United Church of Christ, and as individuals concerned about the health and wellness of our leaders, parishioners, congregations, and institutions?
April 21, 2020
We pray that these messages continue to find you and your loved ones healthy and safe.
April 14, 2020
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.
April 7, 2020
We continue to pray that these messages find you and your loved ones healthy and safe.
April 2, 2020
The links below provide helpful information for members and churches/employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:
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.
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.
The 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).