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News From Pittsburgh Presbytery

A Letter from the General Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

In this week's pastoral letter, Changing Course, the Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge considers these questions: Is the pathway for change in the church easy? What is required in the church when there is change?

Urgent Board of Pensions Actions Needed

September 30 is the deadline for two critical actions for Board of Pensions plan members and employing organizations:

  1. For employing organizations (most churches), employer options for the modified health plan must be selected by September 30. Those requirements are available online.  An information session on the benefit plan redesign is being offered at our presbytery office on Thursday, September 1, from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM.
  2. For individual plan members, the Call to Health must be completed by September 30 if you hope to receive a discount on your medical expense deductibles in 2017. The discount is substantial, and last year only 43% of plan members in our presbytery completed the process. Please note the Call to Health is more comprehensive this year than it was in previous years, so it cannot be completed at the last minute.

Please email Roy Burford or call him at 412-323-1406 if you have any questions.

Attention Pastors! Are Your Long Term Care Insurance Premiums Rising?

For years, the Board of Pensions (BOP) offered long-term care insurance coverage to pastors which offset catastrophic costs in the event of a medical emergency. The BOP is no longer offering this service, but many of us have received notice that our premiums will rise by 20% each year over the next two years! Should we continue coverage and pay the premiums? Reduce benefits? What will be the implications? Cancel the policy? Although the BOP no longer sells the coverage, our own Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Portz has offered to lead a brown bag lunch question and answer session at the presbytery office on Thursday, September 1, from 12:00-1:00 PM following his overview presentation. He will offer a basic understanding of what long term insurance is designed to do and cannot do, explain terms, and offer general guidance as to what questions we should be asking ourselves as we make these important decisions.

Want to Be in the Know About What Is Happening with Crestfield?

You are cordially invited to an informational meeting at the presbytery office on Thursday, September 15, from 11:30 AM-1:00 PM to learn about the action to be presented for a second reading and vote at the presbytery meeting on September 22. Lunch will be served. The Visioning Team for Crestfield has been meeting for the past 15 months at the direction of the Executive Committee of Pittsburgh Presbytery. The vision that developed from their prayer and discernment was presented as a first reading at the May 2016 meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery.

Come on September 15 to review the proposal and the implications with the Visioning Team. The August letter from the Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, General Minister, provides highlights but come see us in person to get the skinny!  Please RSVP by email to Cathy Nelson before September 12.

Belhar Confession Study Series Continues Today

In response to the spate of recent shootings of and by police around our beloved nation, and in light of our recent overture to General Assembly on addressing the plight of the African American male, the Rev. Dr. Johnnie Monroe and the Rev. Dr. Sheldon Sorge have invited members of our Black Presbyterian Caucus, our Amos 5:24 Ministry Team, our Transformation Team, and our Peacemaking Ministry Team to participate in a series of studies of the Belhar Confession, to equip us for public action on this national crisis. These sessions will take place every Thursday at the presbytery office from 6:30-8:00 PM beginning today, July 21, and continuing for at least the next few weeks. All who are interested in studying the Belhar Confession to equip us for battling racial inequality in church and society, please know you are warmly welcome! To prepare for the sessions, please download, study, and bring to the meetings a copy of both the Belhar Confession and the Study Guide.

Overview of BOP Benefit Plan Redesign Scheduled for September 1

Attention Business Administrators, Church Treasurers,
Chairs of Personnel Committees & Pastors

The Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Portz, our Regional Church Consultant to the Board of Pensions PC(USA) will be presenting an overview of the Benefit Plan Redesign, which will go into effect next year, on Thursday, September 1, from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM in the Patrick Room at the offices of Pittsburgh Presbytery.

Time will be spent giving an overview of current employee and pastoral benefits plus a discussion regarding what benefits are staying the same and what benefits are changing.

Information will be shared about:

  1. the menu-based benefits plan, (available to non-installed teaching elders and lay employees), and how such changes will affect staff benefits and pastoral contracts 
  2. how the authorized user from each church will access the Benefits Connect website to use the Employer Decision Support Tool to input data (such as salaries) for selecting staff benefits and setting correct billing
  3. how these changes will affect your budget planning for 2017 and what your church will need to do before the end of the year to prepare

Personnel Committees will want to come and learn about what they will need to do for classification of church employees.

If you are interested in how these changes will affect your church and your staff benefits, please be sure to attend. Please email Roy Burford or call him at 412-323-1406 if you have any questions.

Come and learn how the Board of Pensions is serving you!

Is It Too Soon to Start Planning for Stewardship Season?

Every Christian knows we are called to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. But what about our wallet? We are asked to open it every Sunday when the offering basket comes by and are told that giving is a way of being a "good steward," but what about spending money at a restaurant or grocery store? Best-selling author, Mike Slaughter, offers a comprehensive look at how Christians use their money in The Christian Wallet. Slaughter explores today's culture of consumerism and the impact of what we buy, asking difficult questions about morality and money. The Christian Wallet helps Christians grapple with important questions about stewardship: how we spend, how we live, how we save, how we give, and what it all means. Questions for individual or group study are also included with each chapter.

To help you and your congregation during stewardship season and throughout the year, a free downloadable study guide is now available as a companion to this best-selling resource. This six-week study guide for adult groups includes tips for leaders, session outlines, and suggestions on how to adapt sessions for your congregation’s particular needs. Additional PC(USA) stewardship resources available online.

Coming Events & Retreats at Crestfield Camp & Conference Center

Continuing Education Opportunities & Events at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary:

NOTE: More information about Continuing Education (CE) is available online; all events offer CE Units.



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