Clergy Compensation
West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Contents
Pastoral Compensation Kit for 2024
(Download in PDF)
Pastoral Compensation Calculator for 2024
(Download in MS-Excel)
Taxes
This page talks about pastors in congregational settings. WV-WMD Synod has only one deacon under call, and that call is to a social ministry organization. Given the wide variety of settings that one might be called to outside of the congregational context and the equally wide range of skills, experience, and demands, there are no plans to develop extra-congregational guidelines.

Salary, Allowances, and Benefits

The form, Definition of Compensation, Benefits, And Responsibilities for Ministers of Word and Sacrament Under Call, can be downloaded from the ELCA resource cache (by clicking the linked title). This form should be completed as part of the call process and may be updated by mutual consent from time to time. It should be reviewed by both the pastor and the congregation.

The recommended pastoral compensation for 2024 is posted below (along with link to the Pastoral Compensation Kit for 2024). For those interested in comparisons to previous years, scroll down to the history section.

To assist in calculation of the total defined compensation (TDC), social security allowance, etc., you may use the pastoral compensation calculator (an MS-Excel file with the formulae built in). The pastoral compensation calculator was updated on 21 August 2023 to reflect the newly established base figure for 2024. Of course, you should probably check your math manually as well.

2024

Synod Council, at its 19 August 2023 meeting, received the report of the Synodical Mutual Ministry Committee and, after debate and amendment, adopted the following,

To set the recommended 2024 base salary before seniority adjustment for a first-call pastor in a congregational setting at $41,080.00 (an increase of 3.32% to the 2023 rate, representing the cumulative shortage in recommended compensation compared to the COLAs for 2022 and 2023 without including the projected COLA for 2024); to encourage congregations with adequate capacity to calculate compensation on a base salary before seniority adjustment up to and including $42,273.00 (an increase of 6.32% to the 2023 rate, representing the cumulative shortage in recommended compensation compared to the COLAs for 2022 and 2023 and the projected COLA for 2024); and to adopt the draft Pastoral Compensation Kit ("Pastoral Compensation/Expenses/Benefits Package Expectations For 2024") for 2024 as submitted in writing.

The Pastoral Compensation Kit for 2024 is downloadable in pdf. The Pastoral Compensation Calculator for 2024, a downloadable spreadsheet, is being updated and will be linked here when tested.

History

2023

Synod Council, at its 6 August 2022, approved the recommendation of the Finance Committee, as amended, on the clergy compensation guideline for 2023.
The Finance Committee recommends that Synod Council increase the recommended base salary for pastors by 8.25% to $39,760 in 2023.  All other recommendations regarding pastoral compensation remain the same with the exception that, while Portico Gold Plus remains the standard recommendation for health coverage, the Portico Silver Plus plan with an HSA contribution by the congregation may be considered as an option when a comparable level of service is provided.
The Clergy Compensation Kit for 2023 is now available as a PDF download. Not only are the new numbers in it, but it has also received expanded explanations to several sections as well as a reordering of topics.

2022

Synod Council acted on the compensation guidelines for 2022 at its 15 September 2021 meeting, with the following action adopted:
SC 21.9.5, Council approved the following Finance Committee recommendation with amendments: that Synod Council increase the recommended base salary for pastors to $36,730 in 2022 and to no less than $37,860 in 2023, and that in providing of a housing allowance, the housing allowance be the fair market rental value for unfurnished housing appropriate to the pastor’s household size including utilities in the congregation’s community.

The following is offered as clarification:

  • N.B., the $400 per annum seniority adjustment is still in place and should be added to the base cash salary.
  • Social security percentage remains the same.
  • Housing allowance is probably the most complicated change. When calculating utilities, one should be sure to include those things the church would be paying if it were it a parsonage, e.g., in Morgantown, there is a fire tax. That would be considered a utility. The best way to arrive at this figure is to go to a realtor.
It should be noted that pastoral compensation package increase is roughly half of the Federal COLA (which is over 6%).

Other than the changes mentioned above, the standards for 2021 apply and can be reviewed by downloading Pastoral Compensation/Expenses/Benefits Package Expectations for 2021

2021

Acting upon recommendation of the Synod Finance Committee,

That the Synod Council adopt “West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod Pastoral Compensation/Expenses/Benefits Package Expectations for 2021,” which indicates no change to the minimum base salary for pastors in 2021, but remind congregations that the tenure modifier ($400 per year of service in ministry) should still be applied,

Synod Council on 26 August 2020, in special meeting, adopted the guideline for 2021 pastoral compensation. The Synod Finance Committee, in its report, explained its rationale:

The Social Security Administration is expected to announce in October that there will be no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for those who receive social security in 2021 – due to falling gas prices, stagnant prices of goods and services (excluding healthcare), and high unemployment. This is the metric we have [for the past several years] used to adjust our guidelines. The most generous predictions suggest that we might see a 0.3% COLA, but, as one member of the Finance Committee put it, “that’s not enough for me to take my kids out to dinner on.” The final wisdom of the Finance Committee is to carry over last year’s numbers but remind congregations that if their pastor has one more year of experience, a raise is still in order according to the document.

Full details can be reviewed by downloading Pastoral Compensation/Expenses/Benefits Package Expectations for 2021.

Sabbatical & Family Leave

Synod Assembly 2000 adopted sabbatical guidelines, amending them in 2001. These guidelines are under review, but, in the meantime, they provide a basis for a congregation and its pastor to discuss the granting of a sabbatical. As guidelines, they may be modified to meet local conditions. Any sabbatical represents a mutual understanding between the congregation and its pastor. Contact the bishop if you would like assistance navigating the issues connected to sabbatical. To download the WV-WMD Sabbatical Guidelines, click here.

The Synod also adopted guidelines for family leave. This guideline covers maternity/paternity and the care of ill family members when the providing of such care requires extended absence from pastoral duties. To download the WV-WMD Family Leave Guidelines, click here.

Taxes for Congregations & Clergy

Portico provides two helpful tax guides for clergy and congregations participating in the ELCA benefit program at no-cost:

  • The Clergy Tax Return Preparation Guide by Richard R. Hammar gives special attention to tax-related topics most relevant to ministers.
  • Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches helps congregations understand their federal tax-reporting requirements.

Both tax guides are available on myPortico and EmployerLink.

Clergy Transition (The Pastor Is Leaving)

Clergy transition poses extra questions related to compensation and financial obligations. Visit the Pastoral Transition & Vacancy page for more information.

Rostered Leader Debt Reduction

The WV-WMD Synod has conducted a rostered leader debt reduction program since 2002. Through this program, pastors and deacons with educational debt can be assisted with payment on the principal. The Rostered Leader Debt Reduction Fund is supported by voluntary contributions from individuals, congregations, church-related auxiliaries, and a line item in the synod budget. The amount in the fund is expended each fiscal year as direct payments to lending agencies. For the last grant cycle, over $3K was distributed to one pastors. Guidelines for the Rostered Leader Debt Reduction Program can be downloaded here.

The grant cycle for FY2023-2024 is now closed. The grant cycle of FY2024-2025 will open 1 December 2024.

West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, ℅ St. Paul Lutheran Church, 309 Baldwin Street, Morgantown, WV 26505
304-363-4030  +  Porter@WV-WMD.org