Building on 2022
2022 Year-End Issue
Chief Executive Officer and President Mary Kate Wold and Chief Operating Officer Frank P. Armstrong reflect on key ways the Church Pension Group (CPG) has collaborated with The Episcopal Church this year and the work that lies ahead.
When I look back on the many ways we have been honored to serve the Church this year, three areas stand out: navigating market volatility while keeping CPG’s commitments to the lay employees and clergy we serve, helping clients mitigate various types of property risks, and finally re-connecting in-person around the Church and at CPG.
Navigating Market Volatility: While it has been a volatile time in the financial markets, our Investment team has kept a steady focus on the future and their long-term approach has served us well. I am grateful for their experience and expertise, which have made it possible for us to continue pension payments and to support the other benefits, programs, and services we offer.
Mitigating Risk: Church Insurance, our property and casualty business, helps us protect Episcopal institutions from natural disasters, unexpected events, and other risks. As Senior Vice President Christopher Rourke noted during this year’s uptick in dangerous weather events, “we're committed to working side-by-side with the Church from a risk management standpoint, to make sure Episcopal institutions are as well-prepared as they can be.”
Re-Connecting Around the Church: Being out and about meeting those who serve, experiencing church events, and having one-on-one conversations is central to our ability to deepen our understanding of the often-shifting dynamics and needs of the Church.
From the Union of Black Episcopalians gala, where CPG received an Exemplary Ally Award, and the Episcopal Parish Network, where we reunited with people from across the Church, to hosting bishops from 15 dioceses across the US, we were thrilled finally to be face-to-face once again.
We always appreciate the feedback we receive. For example, after our first in-person Episcopal Business Administrator’s Conference (EBAC) in two years, participant Lisa Andrews Ard, Director of Finance of the Church of the Good Shepard in Austin, Texas, said, “I learned about market trends and the often-changing landscape of healthcare, which enables me to better explain issues to our parish, our vestry, and my fellow staff members.”
Although we could not attend General Convention due to the pandemic, we participated in committee meetings and gatherings of deputies and bishops online to get a sense of what was expected of us. One of the most consequential outcomes for us was the creation of the task force to explore the Denominational Health Plan. It will be valuable to convene a group of experts and stakeholders within the Church to deliberate on healthcare affordability and access. We will report back to General Convention in 2024.
The trustee election at General Convention brought us seven impressive new board members. They jumped in feet first, sharing with the rest of the board their command of disciplines including financial services, health and social ministries, investing, and effective environmental, social, and governance practices.
As we look ahead to 2023 and beyond, we continue to build on many of this year’s milestones, including rolling out Group Medicare Advantage to our retirees while remaining in front of questions and concerns; launching our new client service portal for individuals and administrators; working with vendors to allow clients to indicate their gender identities more accurately across systems; and refining the balance of online versus in-person workshops, conferences, and panel discussions as we keep our ears tuned to the top priorities of the Church.
Health Advocacy: How do we control healthcare costs while continuing to improve options and facilitating our members’ navigation of the complex healthcare system? We are always exploring ways to optimize the value of the plans we offer by enhancing tools and resources.
For example, the new UnitedHealthcare HouseCalls program, available through our Group Medicare Advantage plan, resulted in more than 1,400 home visits in just the first six months of the year. This change boosted the quality and coordination of services our members receive, leading to more early diagnoses, increased referrals to specialized programs, and the resolution of hundreds of gaps in care, through everything from blood pressure screenings to diabetes-related eye exams.
We are now looking into how any members with medical conditions could come to one centralized, integrated portal or call a single phone number for live or online assistance in determining next steps based on their individualized needs.
International Clients: We will advance the steps we have taken to address some of the unique challenges and needs of our international clients (both individuals and institutions), such as charges for banking fees as well as the medical subsidy for people who retire outside of the United States.
Global Publishing: Church Publishing will continue to improve worldwide distribution of our Episcopal thought leadership and liturgical resources. As we launch the Spanish and French versions of The Book of Common Prayer, our print-on-demand capabilities are available in an increasing number of countries.
Insurance Needs: We continue to leverage technology (such as Google Earth) to update valuations of properties. In addition, we are examining increased flexibility in meeting property and casualty insurance affordability concerns without sacrificing adequate coverage. We are also looking at streamlining our billing system and our ability to compare products and policy details in order to offer more meaningful choices.