BOP Annual ROC Report raises concerns PDF Print E-mail

AnnualReview2012 1The PCUSA Board of Pensions recently released their 2012 Annual Report. On the very last page is the Relief of Conscience (ROC) Plan Report Facts. This annual ROC report is required by an action of the PCUSA General Assembly in 2008. Three items in the report raise concern for pro-life members of the PCUSA.

Decline in number of ROC churches.

The number of ROC churches declined from 530 in 2011 to just 491 in 2012. The drop in ROC churches is undoubtedly due to pro-life churches departing the PCUSA for denominations with stated positions upholding the sanctity of human life. (e.g. the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) and the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO).

No mention made of separate streams of funding

Under the heading, "Specific Details of the ROC Plan," the most central and critical element in the ROC program – the separation of dues from streams that pay for abortion claims – is completely omitted from the details of the plan given in the report. The separation of dues is essential and critical for Relief of Conscience churches. The omission of this key element in describing the ROC plan in the annual report raises a question: Are dues truly being separated before abortion claims are paid?

Report misrepresents the role of the presbytery

A few tiny words in the report's explanation of the process for enrolling in the ROC Plan have potential to significantly change the ability of churches to access ROC status for their congregation. The BOP describes the role of the presbytery as acting to "grant or deny" relief of conscience. Commissioners of the General Assembly in 1998 were careful to use the word "certify" to describe the action of the presbytery in the ROC process. The presbytery, need not own or agree with the ROC status of the requesting congregation, they are simply asked to certify that this is a congregation that does indeed object to paying for abortions for reasons of conscience. It is a subtle word change, but alarming and misleading in its impact.

The Minutes of the 1998 General Assembly reads as follows (emphasis mine):

The Board of Pensions will divide the dues stream between those employing organizations and subscribers who have not sought relief of conscience and those who have been certified by their presbyteries of jurisdiction to be relief-of-conscience employing organizations. All medical claims for abortion procedures and HMO capitation fees shall be paid from the non-relief-of-conscience dues stream. A dollar amount equal to the cost of abortion claims from the prior year will be set aside from the relief-of-conscience dues stream and placed in an account to assist in the medical claims of adopted newborn dependents. After payment of those claims and fees, the two dues streams will be joined and all other medical claims and costs will be paid from the merged dues streams.

For more information about the Presbyterian Church (USA) and abortion coverage in the Medical Benefits Plan and how to apply for Relief of Conscience click here.



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