In 2007, the sense of urgency to provide consistent health coverage for pastors and church workers was affirmed by the Delegate Body of MC USA in San Jose, CA. At the Assembly the Delegates approved a resolution stating: “We request the Executive Board to oversee the development and implementation of a plan whereby all…congregations participate together in an arrangement that covers all our pastors with basic health insurance.”
This led to the development of The Corinthian Plan, with the name symbolizing a vision that would go beyond “normal” health care coverage offered at that time. The Corinthian Plan seeks to live out a sharing and mutual aid in Christian community that is foundational to its core values and structure. Specifically, The Corinthian Plan references II Corinthians 8: 1 -15; 9: 6-15. These Scripture verses call the newly forming church to recognize the needs of in their community in such a way that those with means would share with those in need.
At the time of the development of The Corinthian Plan, Keith Harder was working as a Denominational Minister for Mennonite Church USA. He was asked to head up the project team that worked at implementation. Keith stayed on as Director of The Corinthian Plan after implementation. Keith brought a rich background of working with pastors and congregations through being a denominational minster for MC USA. In addition he brought a history of working with health coverage in MC USA through the Covenant Mutual Benefits Plan (COMB). However, the COMB plan had its limitations, as not all Conferences had enough congregations participating to qualify.
The Corinthian Plan sought to bring coverage to as large a group of pastors and church workers as possible. The goal of the planners became not just to find a way for congregations and their staff to have basic coverage, but to make an investment in the health and health care of pastors and church leaders.
First there was a thorough process of testing interest, then a planning committee made up of different skills and background sought to put together a program to meet the vision and goals for health coverage. Finally, MC USA contracted with Everence to administer TCP, and also with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to run its provider system and provide other resources.
In 2009 Keith and a group of “Advocates” across MC USA helped to get the word out and encourage congregations to strongly consider coming together to share in health coverage through The Corinthian Plan, with the following goals.
- All eligible pastors and church workers would have access to health coverage.
- No one is discriminated against for having health or financial problems.
- Pastors can move from one congregation to another in Mennonite Church USA and continue to have health coverage.
The Corinthian Plan launched coverage for pastors and other church workers January 1, 2010 with around 67% participation of MC USA congregations.
The Plan has remained strong from the outset and remains in strong position to this day. Congregations have shown a faithful commitment to the understanding that The Corinthian Plan is not just a group pool of insurance, but it is a program of sharing that has allowed broader health care access for congregations, pastors, and church workers. Over 2 million dollars in subsidies have been shared with congregations in order for those with less means to have access to health coverage. The growing edge today for The Corinthian Plan is probably the Wellness program, as The Corinthian Plan seeks to grow in nurturing good health and health habits with its participants.