NCNC has always been at the forefront of many justice issues, including just pay for its authorized ministers. I have been so impressed since coming to this Conference that the Compensation Guidelines are taken so seriously by all of our churches and that local churches in search automatically turn to the guidelines when calling a new pastor.
Fair and just compensation is a justice issue for sure. It’s also a practical issue. If a minister is not being paid enough to live on they cannot focus on their call as a minister because they are too busy worrying over how to make ends meet and how to take care of the needs of their family. When a congregation follows the compensation guidelines, they can be assured that they have done everything they can to take the concern about finances off the table so that it will not interfere with their minister’s ability to be Pastor.
For many years we adjusted the compensation guidelines each year according to the cost of living but we had not looked at the guidelines themselves for a very long time. Associate Conference Minister Daniel Ross-Jones spent months looking at our current Guidelines and at guidelines from other denominations in our geography and other Conferences across the United Church of Christ. This past Saturday, at its February meeting, the Conference Council approved Fair & Just Compensation for Church Workers: A Resource for Local Churches, Authorized Ministers, and Professional Staff.
One major change in this document is that guidelines for lay workers is included. This was included at the request of a number of churches who have so appreciated the Guidelines for determining the compensation of their authorized ministers that they wanted to know if we had guidelines for lay staff as well.
The base salary determined for all workers follows California law. Churches are not exempt from the requirement to follow state and federal laws when it comes to compensation so the base salary is the absolute minimum. The additional cost of living adjustment the new guidelines suggest will adjust that base salary according to the cost of housing, depending on where in the Conference the church is located. Other “points” for experience, education and the size of the church are part of the salary package. A summary of the changes in the Guidelines is included as are worksheets to help with the calculations. Conference staff is available to answer questions, of course, and we are working on Zoom calls or other connections to help explain the Guidelines and offer support.
We pray that these new Guidelines will not just help churches in search to determine the salary package they will offer but that it will also open up an honest and authentic conversation in our churches about just compensation and money—something Jesus talks about more than almost anything else (except love), and something that we in the church are often really bad about doing ourselves.
Please let us know how we can help.