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.”
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.
When the Pension Boards’ physical offices closed and staff began to work remotely, we were focused on responding to your immediate concerns about COVID-19. Throughout the past four months, we have also continued with our day-to-day operations, adapting, however remaining focused on our strategic initiatives.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
(John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy,” 1980)
These words, written and sung by John Lennon 40 years ago to his then-five-year-old son, carry a message for the present times. Many of our “best laid plans” changed in recent months because of circumstances beyond our control. Yet, these unexpected deviations from the courses we imagined and planned have also been rich with new insights, learnings, and ways of doing what we do. In your congregations and ministry settings, many of you had to move from in-person worship and meetings to live-streaming and video conferencing. You created new ways of serving compassionately and effectively that will likely influence the way you carry out your mission in the future.
A recent social media post encouraged congregations that were preparing to resume in-person worship to not speak about re-opening, but instead about re-gathering. We now are halfway through July, and four months into our request that our colleagues work remotely. The Pension Boards, like churches and many other places of work and ministry, has never closed. As we continue to slowly test our plan for re-gathering in our office spaces, we continue to use systems, technology, and most important – care and compassion – to serve you, our members and employers.
Please be advised that if you are not working for a United Church of Christ (UCC) employer, Conference, Association, National Setting, or any UCC-affiliated organization, and contributions are no longer being made to your Annuity Plan account, your account is considered inactive.
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.
“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.
I pray that you continue to be well and safe.
When the office closure began on March 16, none of us anticipated that we would still be working from home at this time. Now, the summer is in full swing, and we are coming up on the Fourth of July at the end of this week. Please note that the Pension Boards will be closed on Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day, reopening on Monday, July 6.
Two weeks ago, we published A Pastoral Reflection on Racism, the Pension Boards’ statement in response to the killing of George Floyd and the many other African Americans who have died as a result of racist violence. Our statement was both a theological reflection and a commitment to action.