Equitable Compensation recommendations adopted
The power of amendment is infectious.
Judy Craigmile, a lay member at First United Methodist Church in Phoenix, proposed two amendments for the first time – and on the spot. The amendments were related to the Housing Policy under the recommendations from the Commission on Equitable Compensation. The first resolution was a change of linguistics; the second added language to the resolution to include the potential replacement of damaged contents of the parsonage.
Both were adopted.
The commission presented its recommendations on Thursday at the 2015 Annual Conference session, which were adopted.
“It (the commission) is more than just about helping struggling churches; we have a strong missional presence,” said the Rev. Wilson Jones, the current chair of the Commission on Equitable Compensation. “I would like the Annual Conference to know that a significant portion supports ethnic ministries.”
The most substancial commission recommendation involved the creation of a Moving Policy, that “will now cause our pastors to move away from being their own movers,” said Upper New York Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb. “It’s a way in which we continue to care for those who God has called to lead us.”
The moving policy creates a uniform way of moving, institutes Conference and district moving coordinators to handle moving details, and lays out a plan to finance moves. The plan is a cost-sharing arrangement in which the most any church will pay towards a move is $2,250. This sum will be acquired by a church as it remits $450 per year for five years to the Conference treasurer that will be held in escrow in a moving account.
“It doesn’t seem like a terrible burden that we’ll have money available when it comes time to move a pastor,” said Cathy Honrath, lay member at the Afton UMC. “It actually seems like a blessing to me.”
When a move is necessary, it will be paid for by the moving account, and the Conference will provide additional support.
“Regardless of the size of the church, they aren’t prepared when a pastor moves,” said the Rev. Cathy Stengel, pastor at the Rush United Methodist Church. “It (the new policy) helps churches of all sizes prepare for this process so they are not financially undermined when they have to move a pastor.”
The Conference will pay the moving cost for up to 16,000 pounds of personal possessions; 20,000 pounds for a clergy couple. This particular point stirred much conversation, with some questioning exactly how many possessions equated to 16,000 pounds.
Keith Manry, U.S. Air Force Chaplain and Captain at the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Mont., said his moving weight allowance is 14,500 pounds, which is enough to pack the possessions of his four children and a few appliances, plus 2,000 pounds for "professional gear."
The policy also states the Conference will provide $250 for packing materials; $350 for clergy couples. Under the policy, the Conference will pay $4,500 for moving expenses for surviving spouses and immediate family members; $3,000 for displaced spouses and immediate family members.
Other adopted recommendations by the commission included:
- A change to the way minimum base salary is computed, where it is now set according to credential level ($39,200 for full connection, $37,800 for provisional, $37,100 for associate, $36,400 for full-time local pastor completed course of study or MDiv, $35,000 for a full-time local pastor, and less than full-time appointment will receive a pro-rated base salary)
- A change in the years of service increment ($276 for full, $270 for provisional, $268 for associate, $266 for fulltime local pastor with MDiv, and $260 for fulltime licensed pastor per year of full time employment up to 19 years) to help recruiting and retention of quality clergy
- A gross salary increase of no less than 0.8 percent for 2016 to account for increases in the costs of living
- A slight language change to Values and Considerations
- A slight language change to Relationships and Responsibility
- An addition to Parsonage Standards to include the necessity for “unencumbered windows, in accordance with Safe Sanctuary Policy” in the pastor’s primary office
- An addition to Safety, Security, and Environment to ensure parsonages are equipped with secure locks/deadbolts and, if necessary, alarm systems
- Additions to the Transition Protocols that include Trustees or Parsonage Committee inspection, pastor’s responsible to repair, pay for repairs, or replace parsonage damages, and procedures for residences occupied by smokers
- Language changes to Treatment of Parsonage Value in Compensation Packages and the addition of a note about the fair rental value of the occupied parsonage
After the recommendations were adopted, it was announced that Matthew Golibersuch agreed to be the new Conference moving coordinator, a volunteer position.
In closing, Rev. Jones expressed his gratitude to the Upper New York Conference and announced the Rev. Lauren Swanson, pastor at the Penfield UMC and who has been on the commission for several years, will be replacing him at the end of his term.