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New Board of Pensions VP of Church Relations deeply rooted in church

Andy Browne to lead congregational benefits and services

Press Release | Board of Pensions

Andrew Browne_Suit

Andy Browne. (Photo provided)

PHILADELPHIA – The 216th General Assembly (2004) was over. The hall had emptied, and Andy Browne was heading for the door when he was pulled up short by an “environmental mess.”

“There was just this mound of paper in the middle of the floor,” Browne said, remembering that day in the Greater Richmond Convention Center. It was all the business of the assembly—in hard copy. “It had taken a million clicks on rental copiers to make it go, a million pages,” said Browne, who would later initiate conversations with the Office of General Assembly focused on finding a “better way,” and then help design and set up the first electronic system for conducting GA business.

“Andy is thoughtful, and he’s unflappable,” said Frank C. Spencer, president of The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who just named Browne as Vice President of Church Relations at the Board. “His strengths, his deep relationship with the church, his love for this denomination, all of those things make him the right person for this role.”

As a member of the board’s Leadership Team, Browne is responsible for leading the agency’s work with congregations and other employers to extend retirement and medical coverage to more PC(USA) church workers, and to expand educational opportunities to help pastors manage their ministries and churches manage their employment relationships in a changing church. He oversees the Church Consultants, formerly the Regional Representatives, as they engage with congregations.

“I’ve had the opportunity to see lots of different kinds of churches,” Browne said. “Relating to the church of right now means relating to a changing institution, and the Board of Pensions is changing too. We have two changing institutions, and we’re trying to keep them tethered and together.”

The son of a retired teaching elder and grandson and great-grandson of Presbyterian missionaries, Browne held his first official role in the PC(USA) at age 14, as a youth advisory delegate (YAD) from the Presbytery of Denver to the Synod of the Rocky Mountains. Four years later, he was a YAD at General Assembly. He went on to serve as a clerk of session, two terms as an elected member of the General Assembly Council, Moderator of the Presbytery of Denver, and two terms on the Board of Directors of the Board of Pensions.

Until 2007, when Browne joined the Board of Pensions as Assistant Corporate Secretary, his church roles had been volunteer. His vocation in 1994-2006 was computers. “It was the boom- boom nineties,” he said. “If you could turn on a computer, you could get a job.”

Browne’s computer company at the time, ABS Computer Rentals, won the contract to supply computers and printers to the 215th General Assembly (2003), in Denver, and then to the next GA, in Richmond—where he was stopped short by the “environmental mess.” By the time the 217th General Assembly rolled around, Browne and his partner had won the contract to supply an electronic system for conducting assembly business.

“The system we designed and built didn’t work very well,” Browne said, chuckling over the experience at the 217th General Assembly. “We didn’t know what we were doing, and the Birmingham convention center was perhaps not the place to roll out a new tech project.” It lacked the sophisticated technological infrastructure that the next General Assembly would see, in San Jose, California. Still, Browne’s system, Les, gave birth to PC-Biz, which is used today at GA.

Browne said of moving from computers to employment with a church agency, “I wasn’t seeking it out. There are lots of ways to serve the church.” But whether a volunteer or a church employee, he never left the PC(USA). Referring to the label often used by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown—who describes himself as “a child of the manse”—Browne said “there’s something to that. The pattern of normal life is the pattern of the church.”

Browne has not passively lived within the pattern assigned him by birth. He has seen challenges facing the church and determined to meet them, as he did a dozen years ago in the empty assembly hall. Today, the challenge is “to serve the church that’s out there,” he said. As Vice President of Church Relations at the Board, he stands ready to meet it.


About the Board of Pensions

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a connectional church. The Board of Pensions, one of six agencies of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), fulfills a unique role in the community by upholding the commitment made by congregations to care for installed pastors and by providing ways for churches and other Presbyterian-affiliated employers to care for other teaching elders and other employees. The board administers the church benefits plan, serving about 20,200 pensioners and survivors, 13,600 active plan members, 20,900 dependents, and 8,500 inactive members (those with vested pension credits who are not actively participating in the plan).

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