April 29 Update from the Pension Boards

Dear Friends,

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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A Pastoral Reflection from the Rev. Rick Walters

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?

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