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Who makes what; clergy salaries compared

Who makes what; clergy salaries compared

Many Episcopal congregations are in the midst of the final decisions from their annual budgets and getting ready for the Annual meeting. What to pay the clergy is always a major question, given the clergy salaries are usually the single largest line item in a congregation’s budget. There’s a wide variance in most dioceses between what clergy make and there are different ways of working out guidelines, if they exist at all. But what about clergy in other denominations? What do their average salaries look like?

An article on the Huffinton Post religion site details average salaries for various faith groups:

“Among the leaders of the world’s major religions, rabbis tend to have higher annual salaries than their Catholic, Christian and Muslim counterparts, according to a new report by Slate.

Both Reform and Conservative rabbis earn an estimated average annual salary of around $140,000, while the median salary for full-time pastors at Protestant churches was just $40,000, the Jewish Daily Forward reports. Catholic priests and Muslim imams make even less, with average salaries of about $25,000 and $30,000 per year, respectively.”

There’s no mention in the article if these numbers include housing allowances, or cash-equivalents for housing provided allowances. That’s probably particularly significant for the Roman Catholic clergy.

For evangelical churches the numbers are little harder to describe. Some clergy make millions, Megachurch senior pastors make an average of nearly $150,000, but there are many more clergy who are working full time jobs so that they can be available for their small congregations.

There’s been a surge in enrollment in Rabbinical schools apparently.


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If a parish has a rectory or pays a decent housing allowance, our pay packages for clergy don’t seem that low. I know a good many folks outside clergy circles who would be pleased with the compensation.

June Butler

Chris Epting

Wow, Jesus was a Jew. Can I be a rabbi?

Chris Epting

Wow, Jesus was a Jew. Can I be a rabbi?


I have long been uncomfortable with compensation levels in TEC, particularly for junior clergy. In most cases, we expect our clergy to have a three-year graduate, to preach multiple services in a week, and to be there night and day when we need pastoral care. Yet many could make more in retail, or as a teacher or firefighter–jobs that are, themselves, underpaid.

And the response to the question, “Why don’t we pay these folks a livving wage?” is hardly reassuring, since it’s typically a variation on, “Well, no one goes into this to get rich,” or, “That’s the way it’s always been.” The former ducks the point; the latter is a phrase that should serve as a warning sign to anyone evaluating the ethics of a particular situation, since it indicates that the behavior in question has not been scrutinized on the basis of the facts.

Social justice starts at home, and we need to do more to ensure that clergy earn a living wage.

Eric Bonetti

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