Board raises bishops’ pay, starts budget work

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The board of the denomination’s finance agency has approved a 3 percent pay increase for most United Methodist bishops next year.

The General Council on Finance and Administration administers the Episcopal Fund, which pays bishops and their support staff.

The board at its summer meeting also reviewed the principles that will guide the development of the 2021-2024 general church budget. The board also met briefly behind closed doors to determine possible funding avenues for the special 2019 General Conference.

The board’s approval on Aug. 18 authorized these episcopal salaries in 2018:

  • $159,162 for U.S. bishops
  • $78,223.34 for bishops in Africa and the Philippines
  • Salaries ranging from $64,660 to $124,991 for bishops in Eurasia and Europe, based on recommendations from those bishops’ episcopacy committees

Bishops’ pay varies mostly because of different costs of living. In Europe, some pay is capped at a certain amount based on pastors’ salaries or other local rules, said Dana Joki, General Council on Finance and Administration episcopal services manager.

Joki and other finance agency staff look at economic forecasts, private industry trends and denominational average compensation in recommending bishop compensation. For example, the Society of Human Resource Managers forecasts that U.S. employers will increase salaries by 3.2 percent in 2018.

The board also approved a 2 percent increase for most bishops’ office support, including their staff. Four African conferences will not receive increases because Joki said those conferences already receive “substantially larger grants” for support.

Bishop Daniel Wandabula’s episcopal office in East Africa also will not receive an increase because of still unresolved auditing issues from 2011 and 2012. The Judicial Council, the denomination’s top court, will take up questions related to Wandabula’s office support at its October meeting.

Conferences also receive funds to support bishop housing. The board decided that conferences will receive $20,000 for each U.S. episcopal residence, the same as last year.

The board also approved a $1,000 increase to support each episcopal residence in Africa and the Philippines and allotted housing support in Europe based on recommendations from those episcopacy committees.

The board historically has determined bishops’ compensation at its November meeting. However, it made its decision earlier this year to help episcopal offices in the yearly budget process.

More on Board Meeting

The General Council on Finance and Administration has a report on its August board meeting.

See press release 

Looking still further ahead, the board also has begun planning the four-year general church budget that will be up for a vote at General Conference in 2020.

The General Council on Finance and Administration board collaborates with the Connectional Table, which coordinates the denomination’s agencies, in developing the proposed budget.

General Conference — the denomination’s top policymaking body — has final say on the total money needed to support churchwide ministries. That amount is then apportioned to United Methodist conferences, which in turn ask for apportionments from local churches.

At this stage in the process, the Budget Advisory Team — which includes members of both the GCFA board and Connectional Table — has recommended guiding principles for the coming budget. The full finance agency board heard a report on these principles at its Aug. 17-18 meeting. The board and Connectional Table will vote on the principles in November.

Among other things, the Budget Advisory Team expects to continue the long-term trend of shrinking the base percentage used to determine apportionments.

The team also says the coming budget will not necessarily allocate church funds the same ways it has historically, meaning agencies and various general funds could divvy up the financial pie in a different way in 2021-2024.

Specifically, in distributing church funds, the budget process will look at the denomination’s missional priorities, the level of fund reserves, agency evaluations, and agencies’ commitment to efficient administration and collaboration.

In other actions, the General Council on Finance Administration board:

  1. Approved nearly $11,000 in General Administration Contingency Funds for the initial meeting of the Jurisdictional Study Committee. The committee, established by the 2016 General Conference, will review and possibly recommend changes to the number and boundaries of U.S. jurisdictions and episcopal areas.
  2. Appointed South Georgia Area Bishop Lawson Bryan to the United Methodist Church Development Center Advisory Committee.
  3. Learned that the General Council on Finance and Administration has received all but one of the episcopal audits that were due July 31. That marks a significant improvement over previous years.
  4. The board met behind closed doors to discuss the corporate governance of JustPeace, the United Methodist mediation center, as well as the special 2019 General Conference.

Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]

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