2023 Summer Internship: A Deeper Appreciation For The Larger Systemic Needs Within The United Church Of Christ


By Sean Wang, Health Plans Intern

I really enjoyed my summer with the Pension Boards-UCC (PBUCC), The internship program was thoughtfully designed to be fun and engaging as I worked with a wonderful cohort of interns and met with many leaders within the PBUCC organization. Although I wasn’t familiar with either the Pension Boards or the United Church of Christ prior, I am deeply thankful for the people and experiences here. PBUCC’s commitment to diversity and social justice is grounded not only in their messaging but also in their actions.

The Pension Boards’ recent history is telling as their staff has become more diverse in background as well as emphasizing the importance of engaging in sustainable practices and listening and responding to the needs of their members. Every person at the Pension Boards comes to the organization with the intent to make meaningful contributions and ensure that UCC members and partners are well taken care of.

Working with the Health Plans team has been an incredibly educational experience as I learned more about their responsibilities in managing the various health benefits of their members. I was able to engage in research related to many forms of healthcare including: health insurance benefits policy and rates, state- and federal-level policies affecting healthcare management, and changing trends in health benefits needs. My biggest takeaway from this work has been better understanding the many factors to consider and difficult decisions made to provide quality health benefits to a relatively small group of people, in a country where health insurance coverage and information is incredibly fragmented.

I enjoyed working with my fellow interns for the Capstone Project to develop a framework for researching clergy members’ psychology of financial decision-making; each one of them brought their unique perspectives and skill sets to make up a great final product. Beyond building teamwork and communication skills with my cohort, I gained a deeper appreciation for the larger systemic needs within the United Church of Christ and the occupation of clergy. A major tension that I had to grapple with was accepting the Capstone Project as one of many undertakings by PBUCC and the denomination at-large to respond to those systemic needs; these responses come through work at Generations University, the various working groups, as well as research conducted by the denomination.

Among many pieces of advice at our Lunch & Learn sessions, the one that sticks with me most is embracing a career with planned or serendipitous turns – many PBUCC staff members have colorful and storied careers filled with some strategic career-oriented moves and others more spiritually- or personally-grounded. I am thankful for the Pension Boards for providing me a summer filled with not only traditional work to support the needs of its members, but also many doors in front of me, and to be opened.