After the chairs of each area of Stewardship presented their requests and recommendations, Annual Conference members approved the request for $21,289,774 and Commission requests without discussion.
Sheila Ahler, chair of the Conference Council on Finance Administration, expressed appreciation for the 92% of the apportionments that were paid in 2014. She noted that the NC Conference was one of 25 that fully paid apportionments to the General Conference through the use of reserve funds.
After three years without increase, the salary for district superintendents in 2016 was approved at $106,010, an increase of $857 over the current salary.
The conference has a self-insured health plan which Blue Cross and Blue Shield administers. The health insurance plan approved for 2016, a 1.75% increase over 2015, is $1,056.33 a month for the church’s portion; clergy portions rose at the same rate. Dental coverage was unchanged.
Before 1982, the conference funded retirement benefits for pastors from yearly budgets. Under this Pre-82 Plan for retirement, clergy will receive $700 per service year. Since 1982, retirement for each pastor is based on individual investments with the General Board of Pension.
Retiree health care is administered by a designated vendor to help retirees select Medicare secondary coverage from the open market. Each year an amount is set aside for each retiree in a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), based on the number of years they were in the conference health plan. In 2016, the maximum HRA for a pastor with 40 years or more in the plan will be funded at $3,060 (90% of the maximum tier of $3,400).
The minimum salary for full-time pastors for 2016 was set at $42,617 and $27,701 for student pastors. This is an increase of 1.5% ($630) for full-time pastors over the 2015 amount and 1.5% ($409) for student pastors.
LaNella Smith, Chair of Equitable Compensation, pointed out that congregations, when setting salaries, should be mindful of the increased out of pocket expenses of pastors, especially for insurance coverage. The Minimum Salary approved by conference is not meant to be the ceiling of a pastor’s salary; rather, congregations should take into account the work of the pastor and set a salary justly.
Clergy Medical Leave
Ben Williams, chair of the clergy medical leave committee, presented recommendations that the premiums for health insurance for clergy on medical leave will depend on the clergy person’s medical leave income from the General Board of Pension. Clergy receiving less than 125% of minimum salary will pay the minimum contribution (currently $20), between 125% and 150% will pay half of the pastors personal premium and those over 150% will pay the full amount of personal premium for coverage. This recommendation was approved and the change will be effective January 1, 2020. The one-time transitional grant for clergy going on medical leave was increased to $5,000.