The General Assembly confirmed Wednesday the election of Frank C. Spencer as new president of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Board of Pensions and reconfirmed the re-election of Tom Taylor to a second four-year term as president of the Presbyterian Foundation, two of the denomination's six agencies.
Spencer, former president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity, Charlotte, has a long Presbyterian heritage. His maternal grandfather was a Presbyterian pastor. His father, Samuel R. Spencer Jr., served as president of two Presbyterian colleges, Mary Baldwin (Virginia) and Davidson (North Carolina). Spencer grew up around the Davidson campus. He has taught Sunday school and served as a ruling elder in several Charlotte congregations. He also has served as chair of the board of Montreat Conference Center.
“This call with the Board of Pensions is a unique opportunity to bring together my expertise in finance and business and my love for the church.….It allows me to serve those who serve the church,” said Spencer, who is set to finish the master's of divinity program at Union Presbyterian Seminary’s Charlotte campus in July.
Spencer, who moved to the Habitat position following a long career in finance and commercial real estate development, will assume the presidency of the Board of Pensions on July 1. He succeeds Robert W. Maggs, who is retiring after 15 years as head of the Philadelphia-based agency, which administers the PC(USA)’s pension, healthcare, death and disability and special assistance programs for active and retired church workers. The Assembly took a moment to recognize Maggs and Chief Operating Officer Frank Maloney, who is retiring at the end of the year after 40 years of service to the pension board.
Taylor was confirmed to a second four-year term as president of the Presbyterian Foundation. During his first term as Foundation president, Tom Taylor implemented a new strategic plan that increased new assets under the Foundation’s management from $18 million in 2010 to $30 million in 2013. He partnered with two investment advisors to take over management of the Foundation’s investments, and he restructured its field staff to focus on building relationships with congregations, mid-councils and pastors.
A former pastor in southern California, Taylor also served previously as deputy executive director for mission for the General Assembly Mission Council (now the Presbyterian Mission Agency).
Addressing the Assembly, Taylor said his service to the Foundation has been “the most satisfying and most meaningful and most joyful work I’ve ever done – and I was a whitewater rafting guide for several years.”
Taylor reported on steps the Foundation has taken, along with PMA, to fulfill a General Assembly directive to promote positive investment in endeavors leading to the peace and prosperity of Palestine. He showed a video documenting investment in three areas: microfinance loans, renewable energy and education.
Leaders of the General Assembly Committee reviewing business related to the BOP, Foundation, Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program and Presbyterian Publishing Corp. reported that the investment and loan program has completed its 13th consecutive year with a surplus. The Assembly recognized PILP President Jay Hudson, who is retiring at the end of the year.
The publishing corporation, led by President Marc Lewis, drew praise for printing and distributing the new hymnal Glory to God and for other leading resources such as Feasting on the Word and the Thoughtful Christian.
Most of the committee’s actions were on the consent agenda and did not require a vote in plenary. These included
- disapproval of an overture from Kiskiminetas Presbytery that would have required participation in the BOP benefits plans for any temporary pastoral relationship filled by a non-retired minister serving more than 20 hours a week. Currently only full-time installed pastors are mandated to have BOP coverage.
- disapproval of an overture from Tropical Florida Presbytery that would have directed the BOP to pay all accumulated benefits as a lump sum to all active pension plan members who leave the PC(USA) for another denomination. The BOP registered its opposition to the proposal on the grounds that no members are currently allowed to “cash out” their pension credits and that the IRS would require consent of the member to do so.
- approval of an overture from National Capital Presbytery urging the BOP to post on its website the list of churches that have applied for and received “Relief of Conscience” status, thereby having their healthcare dues segregated to ensure they are not used to pay for abortions. There were 491 of these churches at the end of 2012.