Minimum Clergy Compensation Guidelines

Minimum compensation comprises the base on which the Church Pension Fund calculates clergy pension assessments. Minimum compensation in Arkansas includes stipend, cash and non-cash housing and utilities allowances, and self-employment tax reimbursement (SECA). Read the full guidelines below or download a PDF copy of the 2018 Standards and Plan Offerings, which contains health, pension, and life & disability insurance benefits for all active employees, as well as clergy salaries for 2018.

Minimum compensation for 2018 

(including housing allowance and reimbursement for self-employment taxes):

Average Sunday Attendance (ASA)

1–75

76–140

141–225

226+

0–2.9 years

$52,400

$52,400

$52,400

$52,400

3–9.9 years (senior)

$58,200

$62,400

$69,500

$83,400

3–9.9 years (assistant)

$58,200

$58,200

$58,200

10+ years (senior)

$60,200

$69,500

$75,000

$93,000

10+ years (assistant)

$60,200

$60,200

$60,200

Please note that other optional forms of compensation, as defined by the Church Pension Fund, will add to the pension base.  Some examples are expense allowances not accounted for by clergy, year-end bonuses, housing equity allowances, church contributions to 403(b) accounts, utilities paid for clergy, athletic club fees, tuition paid for dependents, one-time payments (e.g., retirement gifts), etc. In 2018, severance pay is no longer included for pension assessments.

Additionally, vestries must be cognizant of the complexity of the job (often based on the congregation’s size) and any special skills (such as advanced education and/or other work experience) that the priest brings to the job. Median compensation throughout the church is higher than these minimums.  As you are considering compensation, please call the diocesan office for assistance in determining a suitable amount.

The diocesan standard is that your vestry needs to include $2,000 in the congregation’s budget in 2018 to cover the cost of continuing education for your member(s) of the clergy. The canons of the church require that they regularly engage in such educational opportunities. This budget item would pay for such things as conference fees and materials for a continuing education event. You also need to determine what is the appropriate amount to allot for continuing education for your lay employees.

Diocesan policy is that travel expenses are paid on a reimbursable basis. Employees, whether lay or members of the clergy, are reimbursed for actual expenses associated with church business. Your vestry needs to put an appropriate amount in its budget to cover the expected expenses of both its clergy and lay employees. As a guide for clergy, use the IRS business mileage rate (53.5 cents per mile as of October 2017) multiplied by the number of business miles that your member of the clergy is expected to travel, plus a sufficient amount to cover expected, qualified travel/business expense, such as lodging, airfare, business and travel meals, and business use of a cell phone. An amount to consider initially is $2,000. Reimburse your lay employees at the IRS business rate as well. If you choose to reimburse your volunteers for their mileage, the IRS-approved rate is 14¢ per mile (as of October 2017).

Employers with one or more employees (including some independent contractors) will participate in the Workers Compensation insurance program as administered by Church Insurance and is required to submit an annual compensation audit.

Churches are not required by law to participate in state and federal unemployment insurance programs, but my do so voluntarily. Employees must be notified if the church does not participate int he unemployment insurance program.


Supply Clergy Policy

The diocesan minimum compensation for supply clergy is $150 for officiating at one service on a Sunday and $180 for officiating at two services, plus reimbursement for travel at the IRS allowable rate , and any additional accountable, reimbursable business expenses.

Download the Supply Clergy Roster and Policy [PDF]

IRS Housing Allowance Regulation

Congress enacted the Clergy Housing Allowance Clarification Act in 2002. This act amended the Tax Code to limit the nontaxable portion of a church-designated housing allowance for ministers who own or rent their home to the fair market rental value, furnished, plus utilities. Vestries must approve a minister’s allowance amount by resolution.

Download the IRS Regulation and the Clergy Housing Resolution Form. [PDF]