PHILADELPHIA — The Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Board of Pensions began meeting today (June 27) in Philadelphia. The board will continue to meet in committees on Friday and vote on Saturday morning on the proposed new dues structure for the medical plan.
The Social Responsibility and Church Relations committee covered much ground hearing updates on Mission Responsibility through Investment, the formation of an additional pastoral advisory group, collaboration in funds development with the Presbyterian Foundation, the board’s Regional Benefit Consultations and began discussing impacts on the BOP of emerging ministry models.
MRTI: Mission Responsibility Through Investment
BOP board members John H. Hougen and Joseph M. Kinard, who also serve as members of MRTI, provided an update that was previously given by MRTI head Bill Somplatsky Jarman at the Presbyterian Foundation board meeting last week.
Kinard reported on six areas of the MRTI work plan including engagement with corporate policies and practices related to:
- environmental responsibility,
- community investment, banking and financial issues,
- global corporate accountability and human rights,
- access to health care,
- for-profit prisons, and
- human trafficking.
Jarman is an employee of the PCUSA and serves as the sole staff member for MRTI. In that role, the report notes that he “is actively involved in several organizations involved in socially responsible investing, such as the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and serves on the board of some of them including Ceres, Investor Network on Climate Risk, the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights and Interfaith Worker Justice.”
It was noted that while other former mainline denominations are less involved in such efforts. Brian Ellison commented that “it’s hard to overemphasize how highly regarded Presbyterians are in this and every area of socially responsible investing.”
MRTI’s next meeting will be held the first of September in Chicago. It is expected that overtures related to divestment of stocks related to companies doing business in Israel/Palestine will re-emerge. It is also expected that the 2014 General Assembly will receive overtures related to fossil fuel investment. It was noted that fossil fuel investments comprise 10 percent of the U.S. stock market and a significant part of the BOP investment portfolio.
Should divestment overtures prevail, committee members were reminded of the process that is in place for engagement with corporations in which the PCUSA has investments.
Regional Benefit consultation report
John G. McFayden, vice president, church relations, provided a report on the BOP’s two Regional Benefit Consultations (RBC’s).
McFayden said that the RBC’s had “record attendance this year with 237 in Philadelphia and 200 in Arlington, Texas.” Both figures are roughly 50 participants higher than prior years. McFayden acknowledged that interest in the conversation surrounding the Board’s proposed changes to the medical dues structure was the driver behind the higher numbers.
He reported that the RBC’s were redesigned in response to the “concern expressed to the board” through a variety of social networks and every conceivable mode of communication. “We recognized that we needed to have a substantial orientation on healthcare issues. Pat Haines did an hour-long presentation then we had an hour long feedback session,” McFayden said.
He shared some of the feedback that RBC participants, who represent mid-councils, provided through surveys following the events. Many expressed “appreciation to the board and staff for our willingness to slow down and our willingness to listen,” he reported.
According to McFayden, surveys included suggestions for next year’s RBC’s, including:
- Updates on affordable care act and state exchanges.
- Dues models updates and resources in place to help congregations and employing organizations adapt to that model — especially if they’re passing along some of the cost of family coverage.
- Focus on health and “The Call to Health” — emphasis on accountability to care for our own health and the potential impact to deductibles. What will that mean?
- How do we address benefits with people in emerging ministries – tentmakers, 1001 New Worshipping communities — those who are vulnerable in terms of not having benefits.
- Interest in hearing from Office of the General Assembly (OGA) about PCUSA actions related to healthcare.
Lindley G. DeGarmo, chair of the committee added that he attended one of the RBC’s and that “it was good to see the tension dissipate particularly as people listened to Pat’s presentation and people began to understand that this is not something we’re doing to them; this is about all of us.”
McFayden concluded by affirming that “people trust that the board has listened, heard and responded.”
The board will vote Saturday morning on the Healthcare committee’s proposal for medical plan dues restructuring.
Pastor Advisory Group II
Andrew J. Browne, vice president and corporate secretary, provided an update on the new Pastor Advisory Group II. He reminded the committee that Pastor Advisory Group I had been utilized by the board as a means of hearing from constituents over time in an organized way. Browne said the board had also developed the Pastor Advisory Council comprised of pastors of larger membership churches as they comprise a different constituency.
Pastor Advisory Group II is designed to hear those voices in the church not yet at the table. Specifically, pastors under the age of 40 or perhaps even 50. “Rather than try to change the existing groups,” Browne said, “we determined to start a new group. We intend to integrate them over time but we want to bring the new group up to speed before merging the two.”
He described those invited to serve in Pastor Advisory Group II as “men and women, from big churches and small churches, serving in a variety of positions and geographically diverse.” Browne said, “We started with 1,000 names and then tried to figure out a matrix that was broadly representative of the church.
- Emily Chudy, designated co-pastor, Central Presbyterian Church, Downingtown, Pa.
- Katie Crowe, pastor, Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church, Durham, N.C.
- Scott Cummings, pastor, Peace Church, Pearland, Texas.
- Adam Gorman, associate pastor, Brick Presbyterian Church, New York, N.Y.
- Chris Griggs, pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn, Ill.
- Chad Herring, associate pastor, Southminster Presbyterian Church, Prairie Village, Kan.
- Joann Lee, associate pastor, House of Hope Presbyterian Church, St. Paul, Minn.
- Camille Cook Murray, pastor, Georgetown Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC
- Derek Starr Redwine, pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Akron, Ohio
- Rocky Supinger, associate pastor, Claremont Presbyterian Church, Claremont, Calif.
- Jacqueline Decker Vanderpool, associate pastor, Central Presbyterian Church, Denver, Colo.
- Reggie Weaver, pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Greensboro, N.C.
They will meet together for the first time in October.
Update on Collaboration with Presbyterian Foundation
Kevin J. Garvey, chief development officer, provided an update on how the Board of Pensions and Presbyterian Foundation are collaborating in fund-raising efforts and how that collaboration might be expanded to include other agencies and entities of the PCUSA.
In addition to positive collaboration with The Foundation, Garvey reported that the BOP has an “agreement with Presbyterian Historical Society for them to do a mailing to their 2,500 donors” and the BOP will do a 2,500-piece mailing to its donors on behalf of The Historical Society.
Further collaboration with other PCUSA agencies and entities in the area of funds development may not be far off. Garvey said that on “July 10th we have a meeting with the Foundation funds development staff, PW staff, Historical Society staff, and Presbyterian Mission Agency staff for me to roll out what this collaboration looks like to see if others will join us.”
He also reported that the “Presbyterian Foundation has taken over all stewardship education for the PCUSA. PMA no longer has stewardship education efforts. So, everything will now come out of the Foundation related to stewardship.” It should be clarified the PMA will seek to continue its own funds development efforts and special offerings.
Part of that effort is the development of “The Giving Guide” which Garvey described as “a comprehensive document that includes all giving opportunities denomination-wide.” He said the guide would be available in the coming months and is designed to give fundraising exposure to partner ministries that utilize the Foundation’s online giving resource.
The Board of Pensions is one of the six agencies of the PCUSA and is governed by a board elected by the General Assembly. The board is meeting through Saturday in Philadelphia.
To read more of Carmen’s coverage from the BOP meeting: