Written by Daniel Hazard
What began in 1914 as an annuity fund for Congregational ministers is now branching out to service the employee benefits needs of UCC-related health and human service ministries.
The UCC's Pension Boards and the UCC's Council for Health and Human Service Ministries are partnering to extend the Pension Boards reach into those agencies that once fended for themselves when it came to offering retirement and insurance plans for its employees.
Mike Downs, the Pension Boards' chief executive officer, speaking at a March 3 workshop at CHHSM's annual meeting in Louisville, Ky., said increasing financial pressures make it imperative that the church and its related institutions work together to maximize purchasing power.
"Savings in church health costs mean less money is taken away from the church's ministry and mission," Downs said. "It's found money. It's money you don't have to fundraise."
The Pension Boards' 23,000 current members, as well as its buying partnerships with 18 diverse, ecumenical faith groups, enable UCC church workers and those employed at UCC-related institutions to obtain insurance coverage and purchase prescription drugs at much-better prices, Downs emphasized.
"The ultimate goal is to help small organizations to have the same purchasing power as larger ones." Downs said. "How is it that an organization that has 50 employees, how can they buy prescription drugs as if they had 200,000 employees? We at the Pension Boards are a willing and viable partner to help you get this done."
The Pension Boards offers employer-sponsored and personal-contribution retirement plans, health plans, life insurance and disability plans, dental plans, flexible spending account plans, and specialized employee communications.
UCC-related Brooklawn Child and Family Services, a CHHSM member with 200 employees in Louisville, Ky., began offering its retirement benefits through the UCC's Pension Boards in late 2005.
"The fund costs that the individual investments bear is much less," Greg Cardwell-Copenhefer, Brooklawn's chief operating officer, told United Church News.
"We felt this was the most fiscally responsible thing we could do for our employees, and it removed most of the management of the process from our responsibility."
CHHSM includes 81 corporate members that operate more than 350 UCC-related programs and services nationwide.