Each year, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Board of Pensions (BOP) gives a Christmas gift to low-income pensioners who receive income or housing assistance grants through the board’s Assistance Program.

The Assistance Program is funded by individual contributions and the BOP’s portion of the PC(USA)’s Christmas Joy Offering, not from dues. Each eligible individual receives $250 and married couples receive $500.

In a recent “Weekly Letter,” BOP President Rob Maggs, shared some of the thank-you letters the board has received:

From Clovis, Calif. —

On behalf of my mother, I would like to thank you and the Board of Pensions for the very generous Christmas gift of $250. It is greatly appreciated. As you are aware, Alan Krome [associate for special offerings for the General Assembly Mission Council] used her for the article related to the Christmas Joy Offering. She continues to be at the health care center in Duarte, CA and is 104 years old. Though memory, hearing, and sight are not as they were, she remains in remarkably good health considering her age. She is on no medication and until a year and a half ago was playing scrabble with me and beating me half the time. I couldn’t even get a phonetic spelling by her; she would say, “That’s not a word.” She continues to be able to quote scripture and is in very good spirits.

Again thank you for the gift and for the faithful support the Board has given over the years. It has been a blessing.

From Laguna Niguel, Calif. —

I want to thank you, The Board of Pensions, members of your staff, and our Church members for this gift during the Christmas season. It means much and I am very grateful. Praying you and your family and staff will enjoy a wonderful Christmas.

From Nampa, Idaho —

This note is with sincere thanks for the Christmas check. It will be used to go toward eye equipment which will allow me sight enough to see TV, read music, see outside and so on. This will in return give me security and welcome help as I live alone in getting around. Thanks so much for the help all year. Blessings and Prayers.

From Albuquerque, N.M. —

Thank you and the Board of Pensions for the generous gift. It helped make my Christmas special.

From Brownsville, Penn. —

I’ve been laying low out here in the historic bushes of Southwest Pennsylvania, hoping you would not notice me, but you just keep those survivor pension checks coming to me each month since my husband died. You have been so consistent in spite of a very turbulent national economic atmosphere. Even now, I realize you are not shrinking the PC(USA) survivor pension. I know and praise the Board of Pensions for their astute care of funds for all of us over so many years.

Thank you for your careful stewardship of the pension funds over so many years, both good and bad. Do admit to wishing that AIG and ENRON had some of the PCUSA ethics and characteristics.

God bless you all as you continue your good work.

From Abilene, Texas —

For the second year in a row we have received from the Board of Pensions a Christmas gift of $500. My wife and I are most grateful to the Board of Pensions and the many Presbyterians who made this gift possible. The unexpected gift has been most helpful.

Since January of 2008 we have received from the Board, a major monthly supplement that has made it possible to maintain my wife in a nursing center. There is no way I can adequately say “thanks” to the Board for this support. The gracious and sensitive counsel and then, the generous monthly supplement when it became essential to move my wife to a nursing center, will forever “move me to my knees” in gratitude.

From Lake Mills, Wisc. —

I want to thank you and the Board of Pensions for the very generous gift of $250. I surely appreciate your thoughtfulness. You have helped me a great deal as a widow.

My husband and I enjoyed our work in the ministry. May God’s blessings be with you.

From Rhinelander, Wisc. —

There was a time when I could claim that this late letter was due to my busy schedule at the holiday season. But you and I know that such an excuse would go over like a lead zeppelin these days. But late or not, I do want to say thank you to our Presbyterian Board of Pensions, its workers, and also the members of congregations who provide the funds that make possible the service of the Board.

All year long we rest assured that our pension check will be sent through the mail to us ... sometimes with a supplement, as in my case. Then comes Christmas and the church members open their hearts and purses even more for the special Joy offering. Never did I quite grasp the significance of that action when I was a pastor. It was just another special offering for another good cause…let’s do it.

It is a wonderful gift, Mr. Maggs. I appreciate it, and want to be sure to say “Thank you” to the Board members who handle it, and the church members who contribute the money. May the Good Lord spread His loving care over all of you during this coming year of 2010.