Today’s post is by Superintendent Gabriel Straka of the Commission for Finance and Labor Law of the Germany Central Conference and Bishop Harald Rückert, bishop responsible for the Germany Central Conference. It is the second in a series on missional appointments and pastoral payment models. See here for the series introduction.
Overview of the Salary System (by Gabriel Straka)
For the pastors of the Germany Central Conference of The United Methodist Church (the EmK—Evangelisch-methodistische Kirche), there is a uniform salary and pension system. Salary and pensions are regulated in the Book of Discipline of the EmK (the VLO – Verfassung, Lehre, und Ordnung der EmK) under Articles 911 and 912, as well as in special regulatory texts (VI.281 and VI.282).
In this system, all charges pay a levy to the three annual conferences, with which the conferences finance all costs of supra-regional work, including salary and pension costs. Pastors are therefore not paid by the local congregation but by the annual conference.
The salary of the pastors of the EmK in Germany consists of the basic salary, a rent-free parsonage or apartment, and, if necessary, a child supplement. The amount of the basic salary is determined annually by the Commission for Finance and Labor Law of the Central Conference, in which the three annual conferences work together, and agreed upon by the Central Conference Executive Committee. Since the annual conferences are financially autonomous, they can decide on deviations from the common pay scale, which they do in practice.
The basic salary increases over the course of the years of service. At the start of service, it is 88% of the amount reached after 21 years of service. This means that pastors in Germany earn almost the same amount. The salary is paid regardless of the size or financial strength of the local congregation.
In addition to the basic salary, a Christmas allowance and, if necessary, a heating allowance are paid for all employees. There are also certain services for which an allowance is paid. Here, too, these allowances are borne by the annual conferences.
The pastor’s entire salary and also the value of the rent-free parsonage or apartment is taxed. Salaries and pensions are administered via a central accounting office for the whole of Germany.
Retired pastors receive a pension payment from the Church, the amount of which is also based on the current salary scale.
Advantages of the System (by Bishop Harald Rückert)
We experience the following advantages through our salary system:
• When it comes to new assignments for pastors, the question of salary plays no role, as our salary scale shows that everyone earns the same regardless of the location in which they are supposed to serve.
• Small congregations that face financial difficulties still have the chance to receive a pastor to help them start a new missionary endeavor. The cabinet can set missionary priorities regardless of salary issues.
• The system strengthens the idea that pastors are sent to a certain place by the church, or rather, the bishop.
• This means that pastors are more independent of the internal dynamics of their congregations, as they are not paid directly by them. This can make it easier for them to act as helpful counterparts to the congregation or to individual groups in the congregation, if necessary. They are at the same time always representatives of the whole Church.