As has been done in past years, financial reports were presented as a group from Conference Council on Finance & Administration and the Insurance, Pension, Equitable Compensation, and Medical Leave Committees.
Anne Lloyd, chair of the Conference Council on Finance Administration, expressed appreciation for the Conference’s continued support of connectional ministries throughout the 2021 apportionment year. The annual Conference members approved the recommended budget of $15,734,449 for the 2024 annual conference budget. This budget represents a 2.21% increase from the approved 2023 budget which still represents a 28% reduction over the last six budget years.
The salary for district superintendents in 2023 was approved at $112,766, with no change from the 2020-2022 approved salaries.
The Conference approved a recommendation to change providers for the active health insurance plan to the HealthFlex Exchange program administered by Wespath Benefits and Investments. The Exchange program offers three health savings account options, two health reimbursement arrangements, and one preferred provider organization option. Rates will vary by plan option and coverage tier chosen by the participant.
Church rates will decrease by 5% with the Insurance Committee using earnings on plan reserves to supplement the rates to keep costs as low as possible for churches and participants.
The employee plus one child coverage tier changes to employee plus one, allowing this coverage level to be accessible to participants and their spouses instead of having to choose the family tier.
The life insurance remained the same but some wellness benefits were changed to align with programs offered through the HealthFlex Exchange.
The report of the Board of Pension was presented by Sheila Ahler, chair of the board. Under the Pre-82 Plan for retirement, clergy will receive $834 per service year in 2023, an increase of 2.58% over the 2022 rate.
Retiree Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA), based on the number of years of credit received toward retirement health insurance benefits, were approved to increase by 3% in 2023. In 2023, the maximum HRA for a pastor with 40 years or more in the plan will be funded at $3,763 (90% of the maximum tier of $4,181).
A change to the Ministers Transition Fund plan design was approved to be effective at the end of the Fund plan year, reducing the required years of contribution to the plan before receiving an employer discretionary contribution benefit from 10 years to 5 years.
The minimum salary for full-time pastors for 2023 was approved to increase to $48,320 (2.0%, $947) and travel allowance to $5,000 for full-time pastors.
Following a study by the Commission on Equitable Compensation, the setting of a minimum salary for student pastors was proposed to be discontinued.
Instead, a motion was passed by members of the annual conference to continue setting a minimum salary for student pastors at 65% of the full-time minimum salary ($31,408 for 2023).
Clergy Medical Leave
The report of the Joint Committee on Clergy Medical Leave was approved as presented in the Conference Workbook.