Thursday afternoon was a day of numbers as the conference members heard reports from the various committees in the area of Stewardship.
Sheila Ahler, chair of the Conference Council on Finance Administration [CF&A], expressed appreciation for the 91.4% of the apportionments that were paid in 2015. She noted that the NC Conference was one of 26 conferences that fully paid apportionments to the General Conference through the use of reserve funds.
The salary for district superintendents in 2017 was approved at $108,080, an increase of 1.95% over the current salary.
Annual Conference members approved the request of $21,908,352 for the 2018 annual conference budget.
The conference has a self-insured health plan which Blue Cross and Blue Shield administers. The health insurance plan approved for 2017, a 2.5% increase over 2016, is $1,082.74 a month for the church’s portion; clergy portions rose at the same percentage rate. Dental coverage and life insurance were unchanged. Alan Swartz, chair of the Insurance Committee, advised the conference that the committee is evaluating the industry landscape for health insurance group plans and the annual conference should anticipate changes in plan offerings over the next few years, including adding options for consumer-driven health plan offerings.
The report of the Board of Pension was presented by Cashar Evans, chair of the board. Before 1982, the conference funded retirement benefits for pastors from yearly budgets. Under this Pre-82 Plan for retirement, clergy will receive $717 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 2017, the maximum HRA for a pastor with 40 years or more in the plan will be funded at $3,152 (90% of the maximum tier of $3,502).
The minimum salary for full-time pastors for 2017 was proposed to remain the same as the 2016 salary of $42,617 and $27,701 for student pastors. The report was amended and then approved to increase minimum salary by 2.8% to a salary of $43,810 for full-time pastors and $28,477 for student pastors.
LaNella Smith, chair of the Commission on Equitable Compensation, pointed out that 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 fair and just wage in the context within that church.
Ferrell Blount, chair of the Board of Trustees, reviewed the work of the board and the proposed agreement language for the Mission Endowment Fund to be overseen by the trustees and Mission Endowment Committee. The endowment will permanently restrict donations to the fund and earnings will be used for missional grants for new mission and ministry within the NC Conference. The report including the endowment agreement was approved as proposed.
Clergy Medical Leave
The report of the Joint Committee on Clergy Medical Leave was approved as presented in the conference workbook with informational updates and no change to policy.