Synod Cont. Ed Event

Clergy Compensation
West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

This page talks about pastors. At this point, the WV-WMD Synod has no deacons on its roster. Development of guidelines appropriate for deacons under call to a congregation or the synod staff is anticipated.


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%).

A fuller document is in drafting but not ready for publication. Its publication will be announced via The Bishop's Roadshow (subscribe here).


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.

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.

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.

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 $10K was shared among five pastors. Guidelines for the Rostered Leader Debt Reduction Program can be downloaded here.

The grant cycle for FY2019-2020 is now closed. The grant cycle of FY2020-2021 will open 1 December 2020.

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