Poor as church mouse?

2»

Comments

  • edited September 11
    Have been through 2 parish closures/mergers as a parishoner. Probably one quarter of the people are lost with such things. The goal is always to have a more robust and financially viable church. But it is like rising flood waters, you go to higher ground, and the water rises further. Repeat.

    I was at a meeting last night, where it was discussed that the main "draws" to the church we're monthly (at most) attenders to are the youth group on Friday evenings, and visits to older people, with some interests in other social events where people interact, and if there is a special music occasion.

    What I came away with is that people are electronically connected and lonely or anxious, or not electronically connected and lonely and anxious about something. Churches may do better with more social care? Less about buildings? Less church services. How would priests, ministers, pastors feel about being social convenors with much less preachifying and nearly no liturgy. Dunno. Lets eat pizza and have a facilitated discussion about what we're currently troubled about or the current state of the world about something, or listen to live music, or do a wide game. Not much religion talk.

    The idea hereabouts is "locally raised up" priests. They get some education and become clergy only for the local diocese. This seems to me a way of continuing to do things traditionally but not having any financial responsibility for the clergy. The financial stake is only in the building(s). Seems to me that this is another rearguard action against the flood.

    There's no way clergy get sufficient income for the responsibilities and time they spend. I've heard of no getting new eye glasses, delays for dental work, disastrous auto repairs - all very anxious things, and then we expect these folks to care for others?

    In terms of work hours: for more than 35 years, my schedule has been easily 70 hours a week, sometimes 80. This is actually usual for people managing a business. I started work at 7am today, and finished at 8:30pm yesterday. The hours of work aren't the harm IMHO. It's the control of the situation you function in. And I can afford to get on an airplane and stay somewhere nice for 2 weeks 3-4 times per year.
  • Zacchaeus wrote: »
    Living in the house is a requirement of the job and not a perk

    Whilst that is true, the house also serves a dual purpose, living *somewhere* is a requirement to simply exist, and generally the average person will be paying for that out of their average salary (see above - at which point having your rent paid for is around 15K on top of your salary taking into account tax and NI). Similarly the days of a 'family wage' are long gone, and no employer is going to take into account a lack - or otherwise - of a spouses wage.

    I think the points BT raises above are apposite in this context and ISTM that much of the movement here has been as a result of economic changes in the wider world gradually crossing over to the world of the clergy with an increasing level of precarity experienced as a result. I think this is neither good nor sustainable, but it is neither good nor sustainable for all of us.
  • TubbsTubbs Admin
    edited September 12
    Tubbs wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    Tubbs wrote: »
    We really need to get away from the automatic assumption that people who are experiencing financial difficulties are crap with money or have a secret gambling habit. Sometimes the financial difficulty is that there simply isn’t enough money!

    I was going by the £27K + housing figure quoted in the article in the OP for Anglican priests. That's better than what I earn and (with housing) more than the average wage in the UK.

    The average wage in the UK is £26.5K so that's better than the average wage before housing (average home rental is £940 pm - albeit with huge regional variations).

    Thing is, the housing isn’t necessarily a perk or a benefit, it’s more of an enabler due to the expectation / requirement by many churches that clergy live in the areas they serve rather than commuting in from elsewhere (cheaper) .

    Even when it is an enabler - it's also undeniably a benefit as it is a cost that everyone incurs - albeit at different levels. And spouses salary is equally irrelevant for everyone isn't it ?

    You'd think the spouse's salary / circumstances would be irrelevant, but that doesn't always seem to apply in churches. Our (wealthy) sending church refused to give Rev T much financial support when he went to study as I had a job so "we really didn't need their help". :mrgreen:
    I had a thought - what about local Councillors who often work long hours in the service of the community yet are not exactly well remunerated? Can/should we draw any parallels with clergy? See: https://tinyurl.com/y6ghcgex.

    Yes. Teachers, police, fire fighters etc would be similar.
    Zacchaeus wrote: »
    Living in the house is a requirement of the job and not a perk

    Whilst that is true, the house also serves a dual purpose, living *somewhere* is a requirement to simply exist, and generally the average person will be paying for that out of their average salary (see above - at which point having your rent paid for is around 15K on top of your salary taking into account tax and NI). Similarly the days of a 'family wage' are long gone, and no employer is going to take into account a lack - or otherwise - of a spouses wage.

    I think the points BT raises above are apposite in this context and ISTM that much of the movement here has been as a result of economic changes in the wider world gradually crossing over to the world of the clergy with an increasing level of precarity experienced as a result. I think this is neither good nor sustainable, but it is neither good nor sustainable for all of us.

    I can see it getting worse as final salary pensions are a thing of the past and housing is so ludicrously expensive. The generation that have retired now / are due to retire don't seem to appreciate that there is a real disconnect between them and the next generation in terms of what they're going to get.

    I'm on a few FB groups where there have been some quite spectacular bust ups between the different generations over changes to the pension fund and retirement housing provision.

    It usually starts when a change to the pension fund is announced, then one of the older members states the church promised to look after them when they retired so they're entitled to x and y because they've served ... One of the younger members then points out they're not going to get anything like that when they retire which is pretty unfair as they're also serving in exactly the same way. Some else then points out that no one was actually promised anything and, if they were, they probably shouldn't have been. I usually run away at this point ...
  • Tubbs wrote: »
    You'd think the spouse's salary / circumstances would be irrelevant, but that doesn't always seem to apply in churches. Our (wealthy) sending church refused to give Rev T much financial support when he went to study as I had a job so "we really didn't need their help". :mrgreen:

    I suspect this would be seen alongside the rise in students having to pay for their own studies (and credentials where there is credentialism in certain careers), and means testing applying to any financial assistance.

    I'm not arguing for 'is' being 'ought' here.
    I can see it getting worse as final salary pensions are a thing of the past and housing is so ludicrously expensive.

    Yes, which is partly why I think its particularly short sighted of bits of the church to rely on part time work from people who took early retirement with final salary schemes.
    One of the younger members then points out they're not going to get anything like that when they retire which is pretty unfair as they're also serving in exactly the same way. Some else then points out that no one was actually promised anything and, if they were, they probably shouldn't have been. I usually run away at this point ...

    I've been in analogous conversations and find that they usually develop along these or beggar my neighbour lines.
  • TubbsTubbs Admin
    edited September 13
    Tubbs wrote: »
    You'd think the spouse's salary / circumstances would be irrelevant, but that doesn't always seem to apply in churches. Our (wealthy) sending church refused to give Rev T much financial support when he went to study as I had a job so "we really didn't need their help". :mrgreen:

    I suspect this would be seen alongside the rise in students having to pay for their own studies (and credentials where there is credentialism in certain careers), and means testing applying to any financial assistance.

    I'm not arguing for 'is' being 'ought' here.
    I can see it getting worse as final salary pensions are a thing of the past and housing is so ludicrously expensive.

    Yes, which is partly why I think its particularly short sighted of bits of the church to rely on part time work from people who took early retirement with final salary schemes.
    One of the younger members then points out they're not going to get anything like that when they retire which is pretty unfair as they're also serving in exactly the same way. Some else then points out that no one was actually promised anything and, if they were, they probably shouldn't have been. I usually run away at this point ...

    I've been in analogous conversations and find that they usually develop along these or beggar my neighbour lines.

    Nah, they weren't particularly generous in relation to things like that. If you're part of a large, wealthy church you can get quite insular and not see supporting the wider church family as a priority. Unless you need something from it like a new Minister. (Sorry, bit cynical for this early on a Friday).

    Not just the church TBF. The whole social care model in the UK assumes that people will be able to self-fund to some degree. Given the next generations will have smaller workplace pensions and may not own a home, good luck with that. So far the only solution that anyone's come up with is to make people work for longer. Some jobs maybe, but I'm not so sure about others
  • Tubbs wrote: »
    If you're part of a large, wealthy church you can get quite insular and not see supporting the wider church family as a priority. Unless you need something from it like a new Minister. (Sorry, bit cynical for this early on a Friday).
    But true.
    So far the only solution that anyone's come up with is to make people work for longer. Some jobs maybe, but I'm not so sure about others
    And it will have a negative effect for younger people trying to get into the jobs market.

    FWIW, the URC put up its retirement age from 65 to 68 a few years ago.

  • chrisstileschrisstiles Shipmate
    edited September 13
    Tubbs wrote: »
    Nah, they weren't particularly generous in relation to things like that.

    Not entirely sure which part of my post this is a response to.
    Not just the church TBF. The whole social care model in the UK assumes that people will be able to self-fund to some degree. Given the next generations will have smaller workplace pensions and may not own a home, good luck with that.

    Yes, this was partly my point, that its largely a knock on effect of changes across society as a whole (to which a large part of the church hierarchy has often seemed to be blithely unware at best).
  • And successive governments have chosen to ignore as none of them want to be the ones that raise the necessary taxes to pay for increased pensions and social care.

    I do agree that the CofE SSM model which relies on well-pensioned early-retired folk (and also retired clergy) will not be viable in a few years as the supply of suitable people will dry up.
  • What sort of person takes on a house-for-duty role? Surely there can't be many people who have enough savings and income to support themselves, but who don't already own their own home?
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited September 13
    People who have lived in tied housing rent free all their lives, receiving pay and pension at a level that does not allow them to build up enough saving for a deposit on a house.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Yes. House for duty posts have typically been taken up by retired or retiring clergy as a staging post towards full retirement. Sometimes it has been a means of them making time to sort out longer term housing arrangements, to delay the point at which they draw down their pension provision, or to continue in a reduced role pending a spouse’s retirement.

    If clergy don’t already own a property when they retire the pension provision will not enable them to acquire one. Typically the expectation will be for two working days plus Sunday services - which approximately equates to the value of the housing element in the overall financial package for stipendiary clergy.

    When I began in ordained ministry 37 years service gave a full pension. It has changed twice since then and it is now 41 1/2 years. Previously pensions remained (by discretion) linked to the (annually incremented) National Minimum Stipend benchmark. Now increases follow RPI but are capped at 3.5%.

    So the payable pension will be the relevant fraction of full pensionable service a person has times 2/3 of National Minimum Stipend at the date of retirement. A full pension adds up to about half the value of the overall remuneration package when the value of provided housing is taken into account. Unlike many pensions these days, however, it remains a defined benefit scheme.
  • BroJames wrote: »
    When I began in ordained ministry 37 years service gave a full pension. It has changed twice since then and it is now 41 1/2 years.
    Over the same period, more and more people came into ministry at a later stage in life,. i.e. not in their early 20s. These folk will therefore not receive a full pension. That's fine if they've accrued pension funds from previous employment, not so good if they haven't.

    Again there are parallels in the secular world where fewer people have pensionable "jobs for life".

  • Thanks all, that makes sense.
  • BroJames wrote: »
    Yes. House for duty posts have typically been taken up by retired or retiring clergy as a staging post towards full retirement. Sometimes it has been a means of them making time to sort out longer term housing arrangements, to delay the point at which they draw down their pension provision, or to continue in a reduced role pending a spouse’s retirement.

    If clergy don’t already own a property when they retire the pension provision will not enable them to acquire one. Typically the expectation will be for two working days plus Sunday services - which approximately equates to the value of the housing element in the overall financial package for stipendiary clergy.

    When I began in ordained ministry 37 years service gave a full pension. It has changed twice since then and it is now 41 1/2 years. Previously pensions remained (by discretion) linked to the (annually incremented) National Minimum Stipend benchmark. Now increases follow RPI but are capped at 3.5%.

    So the payable pension will be the relevant fraction of full pensionable service a person has times 2/3 of National Minimum Stipend at the date of retirement. A full pension adds up to about half the value of the overall remuneration package when the value of provided housing is taken into account. Unlike many pensions these days, however, it remains a defined benefit scheme.

    2/3 rds is very generous. BUGB was a maximum of 50% now much reduced as ministers and staff alike are in a scheme linked to investment not defined benefit.

    I think (but may be wrong as its 20+ years since I was in the finance world) that 2/3rd is the maximum possible under the extant legislation. It's certainly the case for most financial institutional schemes, the Police and Fire Service. The NHS maximum is 50%.

    So a CofE pension may not be large absolutely but is very generous on % terms relatively. It also has not (unlike other groups) been changed to an investment DC basis.
  • BroJames wrote: »
    Yes. House for duty posts have typically been taken up by retired or retiring clergy as a staging post towards full retirement. Sometimes it has been a means of them making time to sort out longer term housing arrangements, to delay the point at which they draw down their pension provision, or to continue in a reduced role pending a spouse’s retirement.

    If clergy don’t already own a property when they retire the pension provision will not enable them to acquire one. Typically the expectation will be for two working days plus Sunday services - which approximately equates to the value of the housing element in the overall financial package for stipendiary clergy.

    When I began in ordained ministry 37 years service gave a full pension. It has changed twice since then and it is now 41 1/2 years. Previously pensions remained (by discretion) linked to the (annually incremented) National Minimum Stipend benchmark. Now increases follow RPI but are capped at 3.5%.

    So the payable pension will be the relevant fraction of full pensionable service a person has times 2/3 of National Minimum Stipend at the date of retirement. A full pension adds up to about half the value of the overall remuneration package when the value of provided housing is taken into account. Unlike many pensions these days, however, it remains a defined benefit scheme.

    2/3 rds is very generous. BUGB was a maximum of 50% now much reduced as ministers and staff alike are in a scheme linked to investment not defined benefit.

    I think (but may be wrong as its 20+ years since I was in the finance world) that 2/3rd is the maximum possible under the extant legislation. It's certainly the case for most financial institutional schemes, the Police and Fire Service. The NHS maximum is 50%.

    So a CofE pension may not be large absolutely but is very generous on % terms relatively. It also has not (unlike other groups) been changed to an investment DC basis.

    for todays new clergy it will be 1/2 not 2/3

    'for members who join the scheme for the first time on or after 1January 2011 and complete 41½ yearsFTE service before retirement, the maximum pension is usually ½ of NMS.'
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited September 15
    My Dad trained as a minister aged 24. He had been a pattern maker in an aircraft factory from age 14 (a woodworking skilled trade).

    They had two children by then. He went to college in London and was paid ten bob a week expenses. He was there for four years and allowed one weekend a month to come home to Manchester to see his family. Mum went to work to pay his fees and pay the household bills, grandma lived with us and did the childcare. A third child was added while he was at college.

    When Dad qualified he was paid the equivalent of a teacher’s salary and the house was a church manse. Mum and Dad paid all the bills. When he retired he was given a retirement home for both their lives, then it reverted to the Church.

    They wanted for nothing but had no luxuries either. All holidays were camping and, in later life, caravaning.

    He was an old style minister. Paperwork in the morning, visiting all afternoon and meetings in the evenings. Three services every Sunday. :astonished:

    He paced himself and made sure he had proper lunch breaks and tea time breaks - and had Saturdays off. He used to bath us kids before he went off to his meetings. I have happy memories of waking up to the sound of his typewriter every morning.
  • Boogie wrote: »
    My Dad trained as a minister aged 24. He had been a pattern maker in an aircraft factory from age 14 (a woodworking skilled trade).

    They had two children by then. He went to college in London and was paid ten bob a week expenses. He was there for four years and allowed one weekend a month to come home to Manchester to see his family. Mum went to work to pay his fees and pay the household bills, grandma lived with us and did the childcare. A third child was added while he was at college.

    When Dad qualified he was paid the equivalent of a teacher’s salary and the house was a church manse. Mum and Dad paid all the bills. When he retired he was given a retirement home for both their lives, then it reverted to the Church.

    They wanted for nothing but had no luxuries either. All holidays were camping and, in later life, caravaning.

    He was an old style minister. Paperwork in the morning, visiting all afternoon and meetings in the evenings. Three services every Sunday. :astonished:

    He paced himself and made sure he had proper lunch breaks and tea time breaks - and had Saturdays off. He used to bath us kids before he went off to his meetings. I have happy memories of waking up to the sound of his typewriter every morning.

    I work less hours now as a Minister - I even get a day off sometimes! Not a regular occurence in a previous life.
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    What sort of person takes on a house-for-duty role? Surely there can't be many people who have enough savings and income to support themselves, but who don't already own their own home?

    Military chaplains, as well as former uniformed or foreign services personnel, and those from national or provincial constabularies, where staff are often transferred from one place to another (although most of the RCMP or OPP I know were relatively well-paid in areas where real estate was less inflated, and were able to flip houses as they were moved about, this did not apply to those posted to larger cities).

    While that's perhaps not a large global number, they form a cadre within the SSM population. Most of them retired in their early or mid-50s, and have a decade of full-time service, at the least, ahead of them.

    As well, pensioned folk are often assumed to be able and willing to support the efforts of their clerical spouses, adding to the numbers of clergy with their names marked WHM (the practice of the late John Charles Roper, Archbishop of Ottawa 1915-1939, who maintained a list of clergy with this notation, indicating that the Wife Has Money-- nowadays it would be Spouse Has Money-- and they would be shipped off to parishes with collapsing rectories and pitiful Easter collections).

Sign In or Register to comment.