Striking the Right Balance

Frank Armstrong, Chief Operating Officer

The Church Pension Group exists to support clergy and lay employees in their calling to spread the gospel. We do this by helping clients prepare for retirement, manage their personal well-being, protect Episcopal Church buildings, and access content and other resources for liturgy and various ministries.

Paying close attention to what is happening around the Church helps us understand client needs, and crunching the numbers helps us manage the financial impact of everything we do. Our work involves striking the right balance between compassion and fiscal stewardship, between responding to needs in the short term and protecting our ability to keep commitments and adapt as needs evolve.  

Recent revisions to The Church Pension Fund Clergy Pension Plan and related plans, our multi-year approach to offering meaningful choice in the Denominational Health Plan, and the decision to reduce deductibles on property and casualty policies were all the result of studying client needs and identifying cost-effective and sustainable ways to meet them. We look continually to provide value and stability to the people and institutions we serve.

The coronavirus pandemic is presenting new challenges to our clients, and new calls to help the Church in financially sustainable ways. So far, we have been able to provide financial relief in the form of clergy pension waivers, extensions of time to pay insurance premiums, medical plan contributions, pension assessments, and free downloads of worship materials provided by Church Publishing Incorporated. We have partnered with our Chaplains to the Retired to facilitate compassionate conversations and with third parties to offer educational webinars and brief videos about financial, emotional, and mental psychological well-being. And we have worked closely with bishops and dioceses around the Church as they wrestle with adapting their ministries to a changed world.

Here are a few of their stories:

Rev. David W. Peters
Rev. Daniel Simons

War and Peace of Mind

As a chaplain during the Iraq War and the author of Church Publishing’s Post-Traumatic God: How the Church Cares for People Who Have Been to Hell and Back, David W. Peters already knew a thing or two about facing challenges when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

“The little things CPG did meant a lot, from offering free downloadable resources to waiving shipping fees on books,” he said, noting that “Episcopalians all over the internet” were helping each other get copies of The Book of Common Prayer. “Most people in our church are using their phone when they Zoom morning prayers. They don’t have another screen to read off of, so having a copy of the prayer book in their hands is really good.”

Father Peters, Vicar of Saint Joan of Arc Episcopal Church in Pflugerville, Texas, near Austin, noted that one thing in particular makes a real difference during uncertain times: maintaining consistency. “It’s almost like a desperation that I sense from them. This is what’s keeping them going—these regular meetings for prayer. Every day, we pray a little differently, but it’s consistent.”

Being able to depend on Church Publishing to provide pivotal worship materials and other publications has been key, he added. “I’m really thankful for what CPG has done over the years to produce both quirky and more mainstream resources and, now during this crisis, to make sure that those who need them can easily get them.”

For Daniel Simons, priest in charge at St. Paul’s on the Green in Norwalk, Connecticut, consistency is also essential to coping with the coronavirus crisis. “I’d been here for literally only six weeks when COVID-19 hit. I decided that the thing we needed to do most was pray, as a way of stabilizing ourselves,” he explained. “To start, if people didn’t have a daily practice, they needed to get one. And if they did have a daily practice, then they needed to anchor in it.”

He too is grateful for the many curated, free, or otherwise convenient resources Church Publishing offered to help people navigate the crisis. “The Saint Helena Psalter is gold,” he said. “This has been my go-to. One of the things that it does is use second person—‘you’—when referring to God, instead of ‘He’ and ‘Him.’ Suddenly the Psalms just come alive, because you’re talking directly to God. And they’re all about saying ‘Help, God. Things are not well.’ So, when you’re praying the Psalms in a pandemic, they make a lot more sense.”

2,671

Number of products and titles offered by Church Publishing Incorporated

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