Senior clergy compensation more than $80,000

Your results may vary, but according to the 2009 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, annual compensation packages for senior clergy in the U.S. exceeds $80,000 the Christian Post reports:

Compensation packages, including benefits such as retirement, life insurance, health insurance and continuing education allowances, have increased to $81,113 per year for the average senior pastor.
...
According to the survey, churches that draw 101 to 300 people each week pay senior pastors $72,664 per year, including benefits. The pay increases to $88,502 for pastors at churches that average a weekly attendance of 301 to 500 people, and then to $102,623 when attendance averages 501 to 750 people.
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Senior pastors, full-time secretaries and administrative assistants in the New England states have higher compensation compared to those in other regions, the survey also found.
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Pay also differed among denominations. Pastors leading in Presbyterian and Lutheran churches earn the most with over $100,000 in compensation while executive and administrative pastors make more on average with independent and nondenominational churches ($80,469) than any other denomination.
Find out a bit more from this press release. An excerpt:
The comprehensive results and analysis for this year’s survey of 13 distinct church positions, ranging from senior pastor to church secretary, can be found in The 2009 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff. The complete analysis includes breakdowns based on church denomination, income budget, size, and geographical setting.

This release from 2007 is also interesting:
Although the overwhelming majority (93.7%) of solo-pastor respondents were male, female solo-pastors reported 10.4% higher total compensation.
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According to survey results, the role of full-time solo pastor is one of two positions where females reported higher compensation than their male counterparts. The other position is Secretary/Administrative Assistant.

No word on whether those results remain true in the latest survey.

Comments (3)

If I showed this to my rector, I don't know whether he'd laugh or cry...

JC Fisher

"Clergy compensation" is one of the best examples of the apples and oranges problem.

When you subtract health insurance and pension from $82,000 and consider the responsibility and the requirement for a Master's degree -- clergy still come out on the low end by comparison with other professions.

Bill Bonwitt

I agree with Bill Bonwitt. (Full disclosure: I'm not a priest but I date one.)

In addition to considering the costs of health care and retirement, you also have to take into account the fact that clergy are considered self-employed, which means they end up paying their own employment taxes. (I'm self-employed, so I know how much this one can bite you...)

My friend routinely works 60-hour weeks---and that doesn't count the weddings, funerals, etc. that he is expected to do...even on his one day off per week. He is NEVER "off duty."

I'm all for openness and reporting of data--but data need to be put in some context. These numbers will just have people shaking their heads at how "worldly" the clergy are--when, in reality, ministers probably end up making little more than minimum wage if you count the number of hours they put in. I don't know a single soul who went into the ministry because they saw it as a lucrative career path.

Paige Baker

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