Author Topic: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)  (Read 6741 times)

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13579
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #45 on: May 04, 2021, 04:57:47 AM »
The ELCA used to have average salaries for each synod on their website. I do not know if that information is still there, but anyone considering a call to a synod could see what ELCA clergy in that synod were being paid.
Again, while talk of money is sometime touchy and to some detracts from the "service" we are to offer and the "call" we answer, it is a matter, I believe of stewardship. We encourage good stewardship in how we spend our money, encourage tithing and generous giving as stewardship of how we spend; but there is also stewardship in caring for how we receive.
I believe Thrivent also has workshops for clergy on planning for retirement that offer insights into how you will fare with what you receive.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Back home from Sioux City after three days and a pleasant reunion of the East High School class of - can you believe it! - 1959.

Richard Johnson

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10403
  • Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    • View Profile
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #46 on: May 04, 2021, 06:55:31 AM »
In my first parish, I was treated like gold. I got $8,100, the standard for a married pastor even though I was single and should have gotten only $7,800.  ;D  Also lived in a parsonage that had the Sunday School in the basement.

I don't recall ever asking for a raise. I did turn down a move once (this was in the UMC) because it meant a $1,000 cut and we were expecting our first child. I've usually been paid at denominational guidelines; fallen short a few years but the congregation worked to make it up later. In early years had an equity allowance which helped us move out of a woefully inadequate parsonage and buy a house. Congregations always paid half of self-employment tax, and were generous with professional expense/travel allowances.

We weren't particularly savvy financially and had no significant inheritances; my wife didn't start working full time until about twenty years after our marriage. But in retirement we're doing just fine financially--maybe better than ever.

Of course we've just moved to New York, so who knows how that will work out?  :o
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12448
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #47 on: May 04, 2021, 08:40:18 AM »
I'm looking right now at the Atlantic District Pastoral Salary Guidelines distributed in 2019. 

At 15 years of experience, the suggested Base Salary is $88,427.

The second page is a worksheet with additional factors:
1) Attendance - if over 325 per week, it's a 15% increment, and down the line to less than 125, at which there is no increment
2) Location Factor - Suburban location adds 15%, urban 5%, rural is no increment
3) Finally there is a 7.65% offset to provide for Social Security/Medicare to the worker, who otherwise pays the whole amount
And then there's this:  "Plus Housing, Health and Retirement, Continuing Education and Professional Memberships, etc."

So the pastor of a large suburban congregation would receive according to guidelines $121,719 plus housing allowance, with pension paid and some money for continuing education and the subscription to the Lutheran Forum package.  I would say "plus housing" could be another 20-25% increase.  That line is in smaller print, though, because the average congregation has already felt a great tightening in the chest area.

The Year One salary is $55,000 according to guideline.

Now - deduct one third due to our cost of living which is at least 1/3 higher than the national average and you have $80,000 plus housing for the worker 15 years into ordained ministry in, say, Indiana, Ohio and other such states. 

Richard, although you have moved to New York, you have moved to New York from California, so you should remain and retain Golden status.

Dave Benke

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 17524
    • View Profile
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #48 on: May 04, 2021, 08:48:54 AM »
Is the district wide cost of living in the Atlantic District really 1/3 higher than the national average? I would think the main factor would be housing, which would be more localized a factor. In general those numbers seem quite high to me.

Richard Johnson

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10403
  • Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    • View Profile
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #49 on: May 04, 2021, 08:57:22 AM »


Richard, although you have moved to New York, you have moved to New York from California, so you should remain and retain Golden status.

Dave Benke

Yeah, the fly in the ointment is property tax. Under Proposition 13 in California, our property taxes were only $2,000 per year. In New York, I anticipate it will be at least four times that. But at least in Rochester, many other housing related expenses (insurance, utilities, etc.) will be less, so I'm hoping it will close to balance out.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13579
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #50 on: May 04, 2021, 08:59:16 AM »
The comments upstream show how having such things as a hefty inheritance, a working wife, and responsible congregational compensation all help clergy face retirement, which, of course, now goes on longer than in previous generations. And if you buy a house while you’re relatively young, even if you sell it and buy another one, you have the base for acquiring retirement housing. If you live in a parsonage during every call, that is not the case.
And I don’t know how many clergy opt out of Social Security, but I feel sorry for those who have done that.
The current generation of those working in the secular world know that they will not receive “traditional“ pensions, because they will change jobs and companies several times during their careers. And they know that Social Security 30 years from now may not be around or may be considerably less than it is now. So they are making other plans.
I believe that most, but not all, of my seminary graduating class are doing reasonably well and face retirement comfortably. Some others, and a few other older folks I know about, will have to do interims, or a lot of supply preaching, and maybe work at Walmart in order to make retirement bills.
Beloved Spouse and I look back and realize that we made some good decisions even though at the time we didn’t know we were making them.
Or that “Accidents of history“ helped get us where we are today.
So I keep telling the younger generation to look far ahead and plan for after the next 20 or 30 years.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Back home from Sioux City after three days and a pleasant reunion of the East High School class of - can you believe it! - 1959.

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12448
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #51 on: May 04, 2021, 09:19:30 AM »
Is the district wide cost of living in the Atlantic District really 1/3 higher than the national average? I would think the main factor would be housing, which would be more localized a factor. In general those numbers seem quite high to me.

Checking it out just now, the chart I read indicates about 25% higher.  So that means you after 15 years in Indiana, Ohio and other States should be at the $91,000 level.  You just made $11,000, if you use our table! 

 New Jersey actually is worse (!), ie higher, and Massachusetts is worse/higher yet.  It's far more than housing, though.  Taxes, tolls/transportation, insurances, utilities, food.  And more taxes - New York City and Yonkers residents pay a city income tax in addition to state and federal, plus property taxes and 8.75 % sales tax.  But we have bike lanes, so it's worth it.

What I've found is that if you know people in the know, or are people in the know, then you can whittle away some of that big city overhead.  But it takes effort and a listening ear of discernment.

Dave Benke

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13579
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #52 on: May 04, 2021, 09:26:11 AM »
Our former house in New Jersey, decent but still not-a-mansion by most standards, cost us $14,000 a year in property taxes. And it was likely they would go up in the years ahead.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Back home from Sioux City after three days and a pleasant reunion of the East High School class of - can you believe it! - 1959.

Pr. Luke Zimmerman

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ***
  • Posts: 224
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-15
    • View Profile
    • Minister of Mechanicsburg
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #53 on: May 04, 2021, 09:33:33 AM »
Depends up location, location, location, Peter.
In northern New Jersey, an experienced pastor of a moderate-size congregation will have a compensation package - salary, insurance, housing equity, pension payments - in the neighborhood of $85-$90,000. That is what the package was for the pastor called to one of my interims. Of course the pastor is not "paid" all of that, but that is what the pastor's employment costs the congregation. Some congregations also pay 1/2 the social security the pastor is required to pay.
The flat-out salary, not including insurance, housing, equity or pension, for a pastor with a couple-decades of experience would be in the $30,000 to $40,000 range.
....

Pr. Austin:

That seems in line with some of the LCMS congregations in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania also. That's based on evaluating my own situation, my brother's situation (also a pastor), as well as some of the calls that have been issued during my tenure in this part of the country.

There may be some play in the salary numbers, bumping a little higher: $35,000–$45,000. Some congregations also pay a car allowance–not mileage reimbursement, but a bump in salary to purchase and maintain an auto. (That gets taxed as income.) But what you listed seems on target for a pastor who's logged in around 15 years or so of experience and is serving a congregation that has ~100–150 people in weekly attendance.
Pr. Luke Zimmerman
Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church -- Mechanicsburg, PA

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 17524
    • View Profile
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #54 on: May 04, 2021, 10:22:32 AM »
I'm looking right now at the Atlantic District Pastoral Salary Guidelines distributed in 2019. 

At 15 years of experience, the suggested Base Salary is $88,427.

The second page is a worksheet with additional factors:
1) Attendance - if over 325 per week, it's a 15% increment, and down the line to less than 125, at which there is no increment
2) Location Factor - Suburban location adds 15%, urban 5%, rural is no increment
3) Finally there is a 7.65% offset to provide for Social Security/Medicare to the worker, who otherwise pays the whole amount
And then there's this:  "Plus Housing, Health and Retirement, Continuing Education and Professional Memberships, etc."

So the pastor of a large suburban congregation would receive according to guidelines $121,719 plus housing allowance, with pension paid and some money for continuing education and the subscription to the Lutheran Forum package.  I would say "plus housing" could be another 20-25% increase.  That line is in smaller print, though, because the average congregation has already felt a great tightening in the chest area.

The Year One salary is $55,000 according to guideline.

Now - deduct one third due to our cost of living which is at least 1/3 higher than the national average and you have $80,000 plus housing for the worker 15 years into ordained ministry in, say, Indiana, Ohio and other such states. 

Richard, although you have moved to New York, you have moved to New York from California, so you should remain and retain Golden status.

Dave Benke
What percentage of congregations can pay to that scale? Even if you deduct 1/3 for cost of living, which, again, I don't think is accurate once you factor out housing, it still seems high. Most products ordered from Amazon cost the same. Probaby Walmart or CostCo, too, are at least roughly the same. What makes living in a suburb of Philadelphia that much more expensive than living a suburb of Chicago? I'd be amazed if any congregation in the district managed to follow those guidelines unless there is just one millionaire benefactor making it happen for them.

The problem this causes is that retirement numbers are based off of the highest years salary. Regardless of the cost of living, a pastor in an expensive suburb is not doing more work than a pastor in a poor rural area. Yet when they both retire to Oviedo, FL, they will not have even close to the same standard of living in retirement.

Mark Brown

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1253
  • Pastor, St. Mark Lutheran, West Henrietta, NY
    • View Profile
    • Saint Mark's Website
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #55 on: May 04, 2021, 10:33:31 AM »
In my first parish, I was treated like gold. I got $8,100, the standard for a married pastor even though I was single and should have gotten only $7,800.  ;D  Also lived in a parsonage that had the Sunday School in the basement.

I don't recall ever asking for a raise. I did turn down a move once (this was in the UMC) because it meant a $1,000 cut and we were expecting our first child. I've usually been paid at denominational guidelines; fallen short a few years but the congregation worked to make it up later. In early years had an equity allowance which helped us move out of a woefully inadequate parsonage and buy a house. Congregations always paid half of self-employment tax, and were generous with professional expense/travel allowances.

We weren't particularly savvy financially and had no significant inheritances; my wife didn't start working full time until about twenty years after our marriage. But in retirement we're doing just fine financially--maybe better than ever.

Of course we've just moved to New York, so who knows how that will work out?  :o

You moved to New York?  Why would you do something dumb like that?  Assuming family, they will get you every time.

Dave Likeness

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5100
    • View Profile
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #56 on: May 04, 2021, 10:53:51 AM »
From 1999 to 2014, The LCMS Concordia Plans offered a Supplemental Retirement Account
because the LCMS is a non-for-profit organization.  So when I retired they gave me a lump
sum of $43,119 which I placed in a Thrivent IRA (Fixed Annuity)  It reached a value of
$51,000 due to interest payments. In the meantime I have received required annual
distribution payments and the lump sum is still at $47, 800.  The SRA has been a blessing.

Mark Brown

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1253
  • Pastor, St. Mark Lutheran, West Henrietta, NY
    • View Profile
    • Saint Mark's Website
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #57 on: May 04, 2021, 11:21:41 AM »
Peter,

Brian stumbled across the one real reference I usually give, what does the local Teacher's contract pay.  They are usually full/heavy benefits (health, disability, retirement) with a base salary (zero years, BS/BA) of say $45K, a 3% bump for each year of experience and a 2-3% bump for every "8 credits" of education.  The base number will vary across the country.  NY is high, Alabama is low.  But that base number usually reflects a fair living for the area.  So since the typical master's degree is only 40 hours the M.Div would move you over 4 pegs. (49K - 51K)  15 years would move you down 15, leaving you around 76K - 80K plus full benefits.   A total package cost of around $110K.

The second reference I usually give is what is the median household income in the area.  (Which amazingly one teacher's salary at about 10 years usually is.)  Politically you can get an 85% agreement that it is fair to pay the minster right around the median.  That is enough that those who make more won't feel bad about the poor parson, while those who make less do not look at him as greedy.

For the minister you can spread that number out across a variety of tax favored ways.  The "salary" is often lower, but then you can add housing, FICA reimbursement and car.  The sum total of those is that number above, but those are tax favored.  But if you do spread it out, when the congregation hits crisis, they might look at those other buckets as places to cut. The fungibility of money is not something people come to naturally.  They actually think there is a social security trust fund.

What I have found out about the LCMS through being in general nosy, is that most congregations might agree to that general scheme, but somewhere about year 6 - around $60k - they stop.  (The small congregations might stop because they are tapped out, but large congregations stop also.)  The 3% increases become slightly less than perceived inflation.  And it will usually come in spurts.  You'll get nothing for two years, and then get 3%.  These are all anecdotal conversations, so not data, but the stories have been remarkably similar.

One large exception is places like NYC/SF/Seattle.  The cost of housing in those places has gone up so much that nobody from outside of them can realistically afford to enter them without accepting a much different lifestyle.  And most of the congregations that once had a parsonage after the first run-up sold it to cash in and spend it on something long forgotten. 

In general I don't think that is so bad.  The trouble that is entering into the situation is two fold.  First, that stopping point used to be close enough to be a single main salary.  A family could make sacrifices and live off of it, or the wife could get various levels of employment to help.  But it is moving out of that realm and into the realm of the wife better be working if you want anything resembling the life of those you minister to.   Second, mainly because of the cost of the health insurance rising at 8%/yr forever, the ability of the smaller congregations to pay the cash compensation is being killed.  I figure within about 3 years the benefits portion of my compensation will be larger than the cash portion.  And you can't eat health insurance.

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12448
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #58 on: May 04, 2021, 12:40:23 PM »
Peter,

Brian stumbled across the one real reference I usually give, what does the local Teacher's contract pay.  They are usually full/heavy benefits (health, disability, retirement) with a base salary (zero years, BS/BA) of say $45K, a 3% bump for each year of experience and a 2-3% bump for every "8 credits" of education.  The base number will vary across the country.  NY is high, Alabama is low.  But that base number usually reflects a fair living for the area.  So since the typical master's degree is only 40 hours the M.Div would move you over 4 pegs. (49K - 51K)  15 years would move you down 15, leaving you around 76K - 80K plus full benefits.   A total package cost of around $110K.

The second reference I usually give is what is the median household income in the area.  (Which amazingly one teacher's salary at about 10 years usually is.)  Politically you can get an 85% agreement that it is fair to pay the minster right around the median.  That is enough that those who make more won't feel bad about the poor parson, while those who make less do not look at him as greedy.

For the minister you can spread that number out across a variety of tax favored ways.  The "salary" is often lower, but then you can add housing, FICA reimbursement and car.  The sum total of those is that number above, but those are tax favored.  But if you do spread it out, when the congregation hits crisis, they might look at those other buckets as places to cut. The fungibility of money is not something people come to naturally.  They actually think there is a social security trust fund.

What I have found out about the LCMS through being in general nosy, is that most congregations might agree to that general scheme, but somewhere about year 6 - around $60k - they stop.  (The small congregations might stop because they are tapped out, but large congregations stop also.)  The 3% increases become slightly less than perceived inflation.  And it will usually come in spurts.  You'll get nothing for two years, and then get 3%.  These are all anecdotal conversations, so not data, but the stories have been remarkably similar.

One large exception is places like NYC/SF/Seattle.  The cost of housing in those places has gone up so much that nobody from outside of them can realistically afford to enter them without accepting a much different lifestyle.  And most of the congregations that once had a parsonage after the first run-up sold it to cash in and spend it on something long forgotten. 

In general I don't think that is so bad.  The trouble that is entering into the situation is two fold.  First, that stopping point used to be close enough to be a single main salary.  A family could make sacrifices and live off of it, or the wife could get various levels of employment to help.  But it is moving out of that realm and into the realm of the wife better be working if you want anything resembling the life of those you minister to.   Second, mainly because of the cost of the health insurance rising at 8%/yr forever, the ability of the smaller congregations to pay the cash compensation is being killed.  I figure within about 3 years the benefits portion of my compensation will be larger than the cash portion.  And you can't eat health insurance.

This is some good homework on your part, Mark.  We used the across the board NYS teacher compensation in our determination of appropriate pastoral and church worker compensation.  One of the church-political issues then (25ish years ago) was that we still had a goodly number of Lutheran grade/high schools.  Their compensation was way below the state average.  So when we made a table for the teachers, the schools were bent out of shape, since they couldn't make that budget work.  Cutting to the chase, the schools have mostly gone away, because the model was so outdated it couldn't possibly work, similar to the Roman Catholic model.  Charter schools have been paid enough by the state to compensate their teachers, but tend to give them less than the public system.  Still way more than any Lutheran school ever offered.

Secondly, let's take a larger congregation of over 1000 baptized.  I would try to compare that lead pastoral compensation to a school principal or at least an assistant principal.  It was higher than what you're seeing on the Atlantic District scale even with the upgrades for suburban and attendance.  Ergo, again we took a lot of heat from those congregations for jamming them up.  And - not that it should be surprising - the pastors themselves said (this is literal) "I'm not worth that much."  That really gave me pause.  So $150000 is above your pay grade. 

What or whom to blame?  In large part, we blamed Jimmy Carter and Jack Preus.  Because in all that period of double digit inflation (something like 39% over four years instead of say 8%), after our little synodical upsetment in these parts which cost us 35 congregations , most of them larger, as well as the district president and basically the entire leadership team, nobody bothered to change the district compensation guidelines.  Ergo we upgraded them by 35-40% in the mid-90s.  The result over time is what you see in the most recent guidelines.

Dave Benke

RevG

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 796
    • View Profile
Re: Call Day For Pastoral Candidates at St. Louis/Ft Wayne (2021)
« Reply #59 on: May 04, 2021, 12:53:27 PM »
A few thoughts, some petty, maybe some profound:

1) As a graduate of some of the last bigger classes, where 20-30 graduates would go without a call on call day, when I look at where these grads are being assigned there is more than a hint of envy which is my sin such as it is.  Quite a few of us were assigned to places with little hope and the entire future course of ministry determined by that initial placement.  I am happy that it less so with many of these grads.  May they have fruitful ministries.

2) Even though the decline in the number of graduates has obviously allowed placement to be pickier, the rot and denial are deep enough that there are still several assigned between rocks and hard places.

3) Seeing as the system won't put any pressure itself on congregations to address reality, the only feedback mechanism is enrollment and what current pastors tell potential ones.  And what everyone in the hierarchy should understand fully is that the message is if you can do anything else, do it.  And until either enough pressure builds that the hierarchy is willing to lead in truth on these matters or the way of all flesh happens effecting the change by crisis and attrition from below, that will not change.

4) I was once hopeful that the pressure would build fast enough.  Today I am much less so.  The boomers as in all things are proving remarkably willing to hold onto positions and refuse necessary change (while often introducing spurious changes) long past the point of Joel's hope that something would be left after the locust swarm.

5) Thinking of Pr. Benke's statistics.  I have reported every year I have been here.  And I forced good numbers on myself.  Both things that are not widely shared.  Due to the demand to report on "in person" numbers, this is the first year I will not be reporting anything.  Since they dropped the 10 years of history on the locator, I have no intention of letting the one number anyone could see be COVID's number.  I have zero trust in the system to maintain any type of uniformity.  I specifically made choices that avoided the record and play anytime in favor of maintaining the church appointment.  Yes, they are not physically present which I agree doesn't fully count, but my numbers are not just "views".  They are attending in the way they think possible and I could speak to each one however briefly before and after much like meeting in the narthex.  I determined the best way not to lie about anything was simply not to report anything.  Let the numbers autopopulate from the prior year as they do with the appropriate year indicator.  Let the reader understand.

Hey Mark,

Just catching up here.

I always look forward to reading your posts as they always pique my interest.  To your 4th point I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently, especially considering some of the comments here.   I wonder if the inability to let go has to do with all the hard work that during their tenure in ministry did tend to work.  I suppose that’s the curse of coming of age and serving during the greatest period of growth the church has ever seen.   I would imagine it must be hard watching the very thing that you dedicated your entire life to fall apart before your very eyes.  It begs all kind of questions, questions that may be a very threat to the identities and egos that were formed during this time and then cemented.   You add the “sacred canopy” and the denial can be even stronger and decision making even more baffling.  After all, God is on our side, at least that’s what we’ve always believed and it always appeared that way.  So now what?  Maybe this decline and collapse is revealing that we haven’t been as effective or in control as we thought we might be and that’s going to mess around with some egos.  It’s always funny for my wife and I to compare how we grew up, especially from a church life perspective.  We really were in two different worlds.  Already in the 90s my home congregation and school was well into decline, with its glory days further and further in the rear view mirror.  My wife’s congregation and school, headed by father-in-law, was growing by leaps and bounds, breaking ground and building.  He was at one time one of those guys who would go all over and speak at conferences and conventions.   Coming into a marriage with both experiences has made for interesting conversations and realizations on both sides.  The one thing it impressed upon me was that there are much more exterior and worldly factors that go into the success of a church which we don’t really give much attention to because of our God talk.  It reminds me of the conversation concerning movements and leaders.  Are movements spawned by good leadership or do movements spawn the leaders needed to lead them?  My sense is that we are still very much attached to the former because of how individualistic we are, which is why we keep doing the same things over and over again but getting the same results.  It’s like Synodical politics, I think we would more accurately read the present state of Synod if we understood President Harrison as being more the result of Synod’s move rightward rather than his leading the way from the start.   

Peace,
Scott+