The List is up! What? Where is my church? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marie Bowen   

What list?

At the General Assembly in Detroit in 2014, the Presbyterian Church (USA) approved an overture initiated in the Neelsville Presbyterian Church in Germantown, MD and sent on to the GA by National Capitol and Pittsburgh Presbyteries. The overture asked for the Board of Pensions (BOP) to post the list of Relief of Conscience (ROC) churches online so that both pastors and congregation members could easily learn whether or not their church had Relief of Conscience Status. ROC is a program whereby churches can be assured that the dues they pay for their pastor's medical benefits plan will not be used to pay for abortions. Abortion is covered by the Medical Benefits Plan of the PCUSA and it is mandatory for all installed pastors. The Relief of Conscience program is of huge importance to pro-life Presbyterians in the PCUSA.

Why it matters

The current list contains 465 churches (including at least half a dozen churches that have left the denomination). Making the list public is really important. I learned just how important this week when I discovered the congregation of which I am a member is NOT on the list. I was not the only one surprised by that--our pastor and clerk of session were also. What that means to me and others who believe abortion is morally wrong, is that our tithes which pay the health plan dues for our pastor are not being separated from the stream that pays for abortions. For the last 7 years money I have given to God has been paying into the pool from which abortion claims are paid! While I have helped others navigate the convoluted process to receive ROC status, while I have warned them that follow up is essential as the session approves and presbytery certifies and finally sends notification to the Board of Pensions, I failed to follow up in my own church--trusting a broken process. Lesson learned with tears and shame and repentance before God.

What to do about it

First go here to see if your church is listed. Even if you are certain your church has ROC status (as I was), check the list! I hope you find your church named there, but if not, follow the process outlined on the BOP website. If you need assistance don't hesitate to contact PPL.

Since I began writing this article three days ago, the session of the church where I worship approved a resolution requesting ROC status for our congregation. It will be in the mail to the presbytery today. This time, I will be following it until our name appears on the list posted on the BOP website!

Related Articles & Pages

Abortion Benefits and Relief of Conscience

Keeping Conscience Clear Not So Easy, by Phil Van Driest

Board of Pensions Annual ROC report raises concerns

Abortion and the Medical Benefits Plan of the PCUSA

A Special Message to PCUSA Churches



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