Many articles have been written about equity (or inequity) in pastoral salaries, etc. but the truth is that – as church pledging continues to diminish for a wide variety of good and not-so-good reasons – many of us will look back to these days as The Golden Years of Clergy Compensation.
With an eye on supporting our often underpaid clergy, here’s something that we did in Chicago Presbytery that was relatively inexpensive but good for the soul:
Our generous Synod gave our Presbytery’s Commission on Ministry $33,000 to share with our clergy. Since we already had grant available for medical and other emergencies and for continuing education expenses, we decided to give 33 of our clergy $1000 Refreshment Grants.
Channeling our inner Fairy Godmothers and Godfathers, we’ve granted $1000 grants for everything from painting classes to gym memberships to kayak lessons to date nights with spouses (babysitting covered too.)
If we cannot pay our clergy generously, then the least we can do is be creative in providing other ways to support them:
- Give an extra week of vacation in the annual benefits (especially if you can’t give a raise.)
- Provide “free” guest preachers several times a year for solo pastors and most especially for PT pastors who ordinarily preach FT. (Presbytery staff, retired clergy, specialized clergy like chaplains and professors might volunteer to preach four times a year for a colleague during non-vacation or study leave weekends.)
- Include sabbaticals in each new Terms of Call – even if it’s just a one month sabbatical after six years. (Parishioners have no idea how many pastors work seven days a week simply due to real life. Emergencies consistently occur on our “day off.”)
- Find money from the denominational coffers to offer $1000 Refreshment Grants to as many pastors as possible each year. Even if you can only award five grants each year, it is astonishingly good for morale and for the soul. Even those of us who are privileged enough to grant these gifts find our souls filled.
Have a great weekend, everybody.
Image of Eli Lilly, Patron Saint of Exhausted Clergy. This post is dedicated to the Rev. Dr. Carol McDonald, our fearless leader.