Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources for Congregations and Members

Board of Pensions offers dues relief and deferments to churches and employers

Church applications, requests by other PC(USA) employers will be decided on a case-by-case basis

by Board of Pensions | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Frank Clark Spencer

PHILADELPHIA — The COVID-19 crisis is bringing hardship to many employers that participate in the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This is especially true for churches.

“Churches are in a particularly difficult situation, with limits being placed on gathering sizes and the need for social distancing,” said the Rev. Frank Clark Spencer, Board of Pensions President. “It’s been Board practice during crises like this to offer financial support to churches and employers.” In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for example, the Board granted dues relief to churches with unavailable sanctuaries or displaced congregants.

“Providing that kind of relief for an extended period to the entire denomination is not feasible because of the Board’s obligation to maintain sustainable benefits plans,” Spencer said. “But we are hopeful that, with congregations and employers supporting their ministers and employees as best they can, together we can help our community of faith weather COVID-19.”

The details on support the Board of Directors of the Board of Pensions has approved follow. As so much remains unclear, these steps will be reviewed every 30 days.

The smallest churches

For those churches with congregations no larger than 300 people with a single pastor enrolled in Pastor’s Participation that self-identify as having extreme need, dues relief will be granted on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with the presbytery/synod. Up to three months of Pastor’s Participation dues will be waived, with no change to benefits.

If these churches are also covering other employees through the plan, the Board may defer payments owed by the church for up to two months. Benefits would not be affected and no interest would be charged. At the end of the deferment period, the outstanding balance would be paid off in monthly installments, along with the normal payment.

Other churches

Churches that participate in the Benefits Plan but don’t meet the criteria above may be able to receive deferments of up to two months on payments for minister and employee coverage. Deferment decisions will be case-by-case. There will be no change in benefits and no interest charge with a deferment. At the end of the deferment period, the outstanding balance will be paid off in monthly installments, along with the normal payment.

Other PC(USA) employers and affiliated employers

Other church employers, including presbyteries, synods, and agencies, may also have difficulty during this crisis. PC(USA)-affiliated organizations, a diverse group of employers with varying needs and financial resources, may struggle as well.

Employers in this group that self-identify as having extreme need may be able to defer payments for employee plan coverage for up to two months. Deferments will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Benefits will not be affected and interest will not be charged. At the end of the deferment period, the outstanding balance will be paid off in monthly installments, along with the normal payment.

“Our churches and employers are all over the country, and the time frame for COVID-19 to run its course varies by region,” Spencer said. “We’re monitoring the situation daily to be sure that we’re doing all we can.”

Any church or employer experiencing economic hardship is encouraged to contact the Board of Pensions. If you have questions or think you may qualify for a waiver or deferment, please call 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time.


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