THE PRESBYTERY OF DETROIT

 

17575 Hubbell · Detroit, Michigan 48235

Office: (313) 345-6550 · Fax: (313) 345-7250

June 21st 2024

 

Dear Clergy, Commissioned Pastors, Moderators of Session, Clerks of Session, Members of Session, and Church Finance Staff and Volunteers,

 

In response to the Board of Pensions announcement in April regarding the redesigned 2025 Benefits Plan, a Task Force of the Commission on Ministry has met weekly to discuss the feedback gathered from the Presbytery of Detroit through listening sessions, data collection and conversations. The Task Force has gathered information from across the Synod of the Covenant, other presbyteries and the Board of Pensions. We are grateful for your faithful efforts to help us move forward together, with God’s guidance.

 

The following are the values the Commission on Ministry utilized to guide our work in shaping the 2025 Minimum Terms of Call, in light of the benefits changes from the Board of Pensions. These values and the 2025 Terms of Call were approved by the Commission on Ministry on June 17th 2024 and the Synod of the Covenant Administrative Commission to the Presbytery of Detroit on June 20th 2024.

 

Value One

Full medical coverage for pastoral leaders and their families is a value we will uphold.

 

Providing medical coverage for the entire family has long been a hallmark of the terms of call for installed pastors in the PC(USA). Living By the Gospel, the theological framework offered by the Board of Pensions, says this on page six, "In some circles, benefits are deemed elective, optional, or discretionary. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) regards them as a matter of justice. The Church has historically advocated for just compensation, including benefits for workers in general and for its ministers in particular. Committed to justice, the Church offers through the Board of Pensions benefits that, combined with other elements of compensation, provide security for our ministers and their families.”

 

In this Presbytery, we have applied the need for medical coverage regardless of whether the pastoral leader is installed or not, and that value should not change going forward in 2025. The shift in how the Board of Pensions interprets this principle now, because of the skyrocketing costs of medical care, is a fundamental shift in how we have operated as the church for almost 40 years.

 

Guaranteeing up front that, one way or another, every person currently receiving medical coverage through the Board of Pensions will continue to receive commensurate coverage in the next calendar year both provides a longer ramp for any desired or necessary future changes and assurance for pastoral leaders and their families who have long relied on this benefit.

 

This does not mean that those (non-installed pastors or any spouse/ family/ children) currently receiving coverage through the Board must continue to do so. If there is a better arrangement for a pastoral leader and family that results in everyone continuing to have medical coverage, then the pastoral leader and family are welcome to pursue that option. But if there is not a better arrangement, or if the desire is to continue with full family coverage through the Board, that will be guaranteed at least through

2025.

 

Please note that the “Minimum Terms of Call” for 2025 are for one calendar year.

 

The Commission on Ministry will take time in early 2025 to reassess feedback from the congregations and pastors. We commit to providing proposed “Minimum Terms of Call” for 2026, by March 2025, to assist those congregations who operate on a fiscal year.

 

New in 2025 is the possibility that Commissioned Ruling Elders serving at least 20 hours/week in a church are also eligible to participate in the redesigned Congregational Pastors Package. On the other hand, pastoral leaders in non-congregational leadership (chaplaincy, mid council level, education, etc.) will no longer be eligible to participate in the Congregational Pastors Package.

 

Value Two

Commitment to not reduce the Effective Salary or Benefits to the Pastor

 

Pastors generally consider their Effective Salary to be their take home pay. As the overall cost for some types of benefits are increasing, we do not believe that the burden of increased costs should fall onto a pastor who is continuing a position in 2025. This is why we are mandating the 2025 Transitional Pastor’s Participation for 2025 for those pastors who require full family coverage. COM will require that Pastors in continuing Installed positions choose the most cost-effective plan of the new Board of Pensions Medical Coverage (Transitional Coverage or the Congregational Pastors Package). In non-installed positions, current effective salaries should be maintained along with the current benefits at whatever the costs of those benefits may be. In part-time ministry settings where the amounts are pro-rated, the pro-rated amount for 2025 should be based on the effective salary along with same benefits that are currently being received.

 

We will continue our commitment in requiring the Board of Pensions defined benefit pension, death and disability, long-term disability and Employee Assistance Program as a requirement for all clergy and encouraged for CREs and other church workers (10% of Effective Salary). This is referred to as the “Covenant Package” in the redesigned benefits program.

 

Value Three

The Presbytery of Detroit is here to help and find a way to come alongside congregations and pastoral leaders who would experience hardships in meeting the difference between 2024 dues and 2025 dues as a result of these changes.

 

The Commission on Ministry (COM) and Presbytery staff are committed to navigating these changes with you, and doing our best to support every pastor and congregation in the process. COM liaisons, along with presbytery staff, will be available to walk through these conversations, and requests for financial support, with the pastoral leader, session and congregation on a case-by-case basis. More information regarding financial support will come later this summer. Please reach out to your COM liaison to let them know your church is interested in this option.

 

The Commission on Ministry is here to assist with the transition and to answer your questions regarding the Terms of Call. Please direct your specific questions regarding medical coverage to the Board of Pensions. You can also use the Board of Pensions Calculator to determine costs of benefits:

 

https://seasonofrebuilding.pensions.org/2025-plan-changes/dues-packages

 

The following educational events are available for anyone to attend and learn more:

COM (Detroit) Presentation with Q&A Regarding Terms of Call 2025

When: July 8th 2024 06:30pm Eastern Time

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85148503315?pwd=IWhntb5wq9Y2zlgbL6Ljf71R6Ly8TT.1

No Registration is needed for this meeting.

 

Board of Pensions: Interactive Informational Session 1 on New BOP Dues Packages

When: Jul 9, 2024 06:00 PM Eastern Time

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEkcuqpqzkqGdVLAv-9rS94YztnY4nQc3T2

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

 

Board of Pensions: Interactive Informational Session 2 on New BOP Dues Packages

When: Jul 10, 2024 10:00 AM Eastern Time

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYvdOqvrTkiG93vN6jldVB9vKkF2XAcRu2H

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

 

We are grateful for your patience, support and understanding as we support one another through this transition.

 

 

The Commission on Ministry