Compensation Guidelines for Priests
These guidelines are the minimum requirements for each congregation. There is nothing to prevent congregations from providing compensation and benefits higher than those mandated. Indeed, the Trustees Compensation Committee is aware that in some circumstances, the minimum requirements may not be adequate. Each congregation is urged to review the guidelines in light of their individual circumstances (without going below the mandated requirements).
Priest and lay leaders of congregations who are negotiating a compensation package for a newly called priest, or making changes to an existing package, are urged to consult with the Controller’s Office to ensure that the package is calculated in accordance with these guidelines and with all relevant laws and regulations.
A functioning Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is available to assist you with your calculations by clicking on the document titled “Scheduled of Budget and Compensation Worksheet” in the right sidebar.
Section A. Mandated Compensation, Benefits and Associated Expenses
Pursuant to the following requirements mandated by Diocesan Convention, each congregation within the Diocese of New York shall provide the following compensation with benefits to each priest who works 20 hours or more per week and meets the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) criteria for employees (see Treasury Reg. Sec. 31.3401(6)(b)), provided no congregation shall employ any person not eligible to work in the United States. These requirements apply to all full time priests and priests working 20 hours or more.
1. Annual Stipend
The annual stipend shall be no less than those amounts listed in Schedule I included at the top of the Clergy Compensation Worksheet downloadable from the right sidebar. Stipend minimums should be figured proportionately for clergy working part time. All clergy receiving compensation are to be issued a W-2 form for tax purposes.
Congregations shall either (a) provide housing or (b) pay a housing allowance which shall not be less than 50% of the priest’s annual stipend. No congregation shall be excused from providing this benefit (i.e., either (a) housing or (b) a housing allowance of not less than 50% of the priest’s annual stipend) because housing is provided to the priest from another source. For computation of housing use Clergy Compensation Worksheet downloadable from the right sidebar.
3. Payment Toward Self-Employment Tax Liability
Each congregation shall reimburse half of the cleric’s self-employment tax liability. To calculate use the Clergy Compensation Worksheet downloadable from the right sidebar.
4. Health Benefits
(Further details and information are available from the Diocesan Benefits Coordinator.)
Clergy working 1,000 hours per year or more and are receiving a W-2 are provided Medical and Dental Coverage as follows:
• Single coverage with an employee contribution of 1% of the premium for the basic plan.
• Employee + 1 coverage with an employee contribution of 2% of the premium for the basic plan.
• Family coverage with an employee contribution of 3% of the premium for the basic plan.
To calculate use the Clergy Compensation Worksheet downloadable from the right sidebar.
Clergy may choose to participate in a plan offered by The Medical Trust other than the basic plan. In the event the other plan’s premium exceeds that of the basic plan, the clergy person will be responsible for any excess premium.
Clergy working and paid less than 20 hours per week (less than 1,000 hours per year) may participate in The Episcopal Church Medical Trust at their own expense. Employers are encouraged to assist them with the cost of purchasing health insurance either through the Episcopal Church Medical Trust or on a marketplace exchange.
5. Maternity and Paternity Leave of Absence
Congregations shall provide their clergy, both female and male, with a paid leave of absence in conformity to New York State law.
Every cleric receiving compensation must be enrolled in the Church Pension Fund and the congregation must accurately report the compensation and pay the pension assessment. To calculate use the Clergy Compensation Worksheet downloadable from the right sidebar.
Congregations shall give their clergy one month, including five Sundays, of paid vacation each year. Vacation time does not accrue, and must be used in the year it is earned.
The congregation shall provide the cleric with a mileage (plus tolls, etc.) reimbursement, after receiving from the cleric adequate documentation, based on the current IRS figure.
The congregation shall provide the reasonable and necessary costs of transportation for travel for required church business, including trips to the seat of the Diocese, after receiving from the cleric adequate documentation of such costs.
9. Continuing Education
Annual time allotted by each congregation to its clergy for continuing education shall not be less than ten days, and expenses shall be a distinct budget line, set at a minimum of $750. The benefit is to be used only for continuing education (and is not to be used in pursuit of any other purpose or as additional cash stipend). Time not used in one year is not to be carried over; however, money not used in a given year is to be set aside in a special account, and may be used in future years as needed (up to three years), either for continuing education or to help fund the cleric’s sabbatical. Any such funds carried forward do not reduce the congregation’s obligation to budget $750 in continuing education funds in each and every year. [See also Funds for Continuing Education of Clergy.]
Congregations shall provide their clergy Sabbatical Leave of a minimum of two weeks per year of service in that congregation, to be available after every seventh year. Sabbatical leave may not be carried over into any subsequent year, and must be used in a timely fashion in consultation with the Vestry. During the sabbatical, the cleric will receive full compensation and benefits. Unused sabbatical time will be forfeited. [Diocesan Sabbatical Leave Policy available in right sidebar.]
11. Moving Expenses
All congregations shall pay a specific dollar amount for the moving expenses of newly called clergy. The exact amount must be negotiated between the congregation and the cleric, and included in the Letter of Call (Letter of Agreement). The Office of Transition Ministry of the Diocese is available for advice on this issue.
12. Letter of Agreement
Every congregation that calls a cleric must issue a Letter of Call (Letter of Agreement). All letters of agreement, including those of Curates, Assistants, and Associates, must be reviewed by the Canon for Transition Ministry and signed by the Bishop of New York. For Letter of Agreement templates please contact the Office of Transition Ministry.
13. Disability Insurance and Compensation Continuation in the Event of Disability
Congregations shall either continue full compensation for up to six months of medically certified disability or they shall indemnify themselves against this exposure by purchasing short-term disability insurance that replaces at least 70% of pension base compensation for a minimum of six months. The Income Replacement Plan offered through the Church Life Insurance Corporation, which replaces 70% of pension base compensation for up to 12 months of disability, is strongly recommended. It is further recommended that payment of the premium be handled so that any benefit collected is non-taxable.
Congregations shall continue medical, dental and pension benefits for up to six months of medically certified disability.
As soon as it appears that a disability will be continuous and total, the cleric should apply to the Church Pension Fund for a disability retirement. While not obligated to continue compensation and benefits after six months of disability, congregations are urged to make a cleric’s transition from active to disability retiree as smooth as possible.
Because disability pensions will not fully replace current income, it is strongly recommended that clergy serving congregations consider, as part of their personal financial planning, obtaining long-term disability insurance through an organization such as Church Life.
Section B. Other Items Strongly Urged by Convention
1. Stipend Increases
An annual review of the cleric’s total, annual compensation is strongly urged.
2. Equity Replacement
When housing is provided, each congregation is strongly urged to offer a plan for equity replacement, which is to be no less than 3% of what the cash housing allowance would be. This amount must be matched by the cleric, and is invested in a 403b tax deferred annuity.
3. Life Insurance
While the life insurance provided to all active clergy enrolled in the church pension plan meets the minimum requirement, each cleric and congregation should review the adequacy of this coverage.
4. Surviving Dependent Housing
Every congregation is strongly urged to provide short term housing of the dependents of a deceased cleric (e.g. 30-90 days).
The Diocese uses the guidelines set forth by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for reimbursement of travel mileage by Diocesan employees.
Note: The following, given for informational purposes, is taken from The Church Pension Fund’s publication A Guide to Your Benefits Now and in the Future. It is available to all clergy and congregations at 1-800-223-6602 or at www.cpg.org.
As a basis for the pension assessment, clergy compensation consists of cash salary, Social Security tax reimbursements, utilities, and housing.
Cash salary is the stipend paid, including bonuses, one-time cash payments, tuition paid for dependents, severance and any salary reduction used to fund an annuity or other tax-deferred benefit, such as a TSA or 403(b) plan.
Social Security tax reimbursement (SECA) is compensation provided to offset self-employment taxes.
Utilities are allowances to cover the cost of utility bills, such as fuel, gas, and electricity, or the amount the church pays for utilities on a cleric’s behalf.
Housing is the allowance clergy receive for this purpose:
- If housing is provided rent-free, the housing allowance is assumed at 30% of the total of the cash stipend, Social Security reimbursements, and utilities.
The Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publishes Publication 517 Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers. This publication can be obtained at no charge by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676) or www.irs.gov.
- Salaries and fees for your qualified services,
- Offerings you receive for marriages, baptisms, funerals, masses, etc.
- The value of meals and lodging provided to you, your spouse, and your dependents for your employer’s convenience, and
- The fair rental value of a parsonage provided to you (including the cost of utilities that are furnished) and the rental allowance (including an amount for payment of utilities) paid to you.
If a church pays any amount toward your income tax or self-employment tax, other than withholding the amount from your stipend, it is income to you. You must include the amount in your gross income and self-employment income.”
Clergy Minimums as of January 1, 2024
- Ordained fewer than 3 years: $52,222
- Ordained 3 to 10 years: $58,042
- Ordained 10 to 15 years: $58,556
- Ordained over 15 years: $66,435
Supply Clergy Fees as of January 1, 2023
- $225 for one Sunday service and sermon
- $325 for two Sunday services and sermon
- $120 for a weekday service
- $360 for a Funeral, including planning liturgy and follow-up
- $180 for a graveside service
- $475 for a Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage, including 3 preparatory sessions with the couple
- $225 for Holy Week services of the Eucharist, with sermon
- $325 for Holy Week services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Eve/Day