Despite the small buzz around the PDF release of the Commission on Appraisal Engaging Our Theological Diversity report, I wonder if the more important report for the future of the Unitarian Universalist Association concerns the mundane — but not unimportant — matter of ministerial compensation.
I’ve written before about fair compensation for ministers and church staff, and now more than a year and a half with a secular employer, I think it would be hard to go back to conventional parish ministry. The money’s not there (I’m making more now in a middling position in a non-profit than in my last pastorate), the prestige of past generations isn’t there, but the stress and troubles have multiplied.
The old Total Cost of Ministry formula, I think, gave to a sizable number of parishoners an inflated idea of how much ministers earn. On the other hand, I well remember the mid-year (uncompensated) fee hikes in my crummy individual HMO. Any other clergy out there get the cold sweats writing those SECA checks?
The new model, beginning in 2006, calls for a simple salary plus housing rate, placed on a continuum based on parish size and geography plus benefits. Kudos to the Church Staff Finances people. (But why isn’t fundamentally a UUMA project? Why should ministers be dependent for advocacy on an arm of an organization that has its primary loyalty to the congregation-employers? Not paying my UUMA dues and quitting is the best money I never spent.) Yes, it will make planning salaries a bit harder, but that’s what you’ll need to attract and keep staff.
Download the 2006 salary recommendations and background document here.