Installed pastor in Pathways to Renewal

​Faith Presbyterian Church is a 135-member congregation with relatively limited resources. The church has not had an installed pastor in four years, utilizing a succession of temporary supply ministers. The community is now experiencing growth and the presbytery considers the congregation an opportunity for redevelopment. The presbytery’s Committee on Ministry meets with the session to explore the possibility of calling a pastor in the Pathways to Renewal program of the Board of Pensions. The presbytery commits $10,000 per year for five years to assist the congregation in taking this step of faith. With the session’s recommendation, the congregation votes to search for a pastor to be installed. The search culminates in a call to Jared, a 28 year old, married candidate recently approved for ordination. Jared receives a $30,000 salary which is the minimum required by presbytery policy.

The Book of Order (G-2.0804) requires that installed pastors of congregations (pastors, associate pastors, and co-pastors) be enrolled in the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). According to this requirement, Jared is enrolled in Pastor’s Participation. The position qualifies for Pathways to Renewal with dues as follows:

  • 16.75% of annual effective salary for family medical coverage with a minimum dues amount of $6,000 ($6,000)
  • 2% ($600) for defined benefit pension; and
  • 1% ($300) for death and disability. What are the benefits of Pastor’s Participation for Faith Presbyterian Church and for Jared?

The Board's perspective

  1. Due to the community nature of the plan and Pathways to Renewal (available since the church is less than 150 members and has not had an installed pastor in more than two years), Faith Presbyterian Church is able to provide family medical coverage at less than the actual cost. This illustrates the community nature of Pastor’s Participation, the Church’s commitment to helping smaller churches who call young pastors (under 40) at lower salaries. The $6,000 charged for Jared and his family is less than a third of the actual cost of family coverage and $5,000 less than the minimum cost outside Pathways to Renewal.
  2. Jared accrues pension credits at the $59,100 national median salary for pastors. Dues at the median would be $6,501, which is $5,901 more than the church’s contribution in Pathways to Renewal. Both Jared and the church benefit from the community nature of Pastor’s Participation and Pathways to Renewal.
  3. The disability benefit — which includes 60% continuation of salary, continuing medical coverage, and continuing accrual of pension credits at Jared’s effective salary or median, whichever is greater — is unavailable in the commercial market. The lump-sum death benefit is determined by salary and age at death. It is multiplied for younger members with the assumption that it supports family members for a longer period of time. Without pension participation, death and disability coverage is priced at 2.5% of effective salary. In Pastor’s Participation, in this case, it costs $300 per year.
  4. Enrollment in Pastor’s Participation affords Jared access to the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), supplemental death benefits coverage, and such educational programs as Board University and the newly ordained Presbyterian CREDO conference. (Jared’s continuing education cost for this program is $500 for each of the two-week sessions; the Board covers the balance of the actual cost, for a total of $10,000). The Assistance Program provides Jared with support, including the Minister Educational Debt Assistance Grant (up to $5,000 per year for up to five years). Twenty or more years of participation in the Pension Plan qualifies a retiree who meets income and asset requirements for Income and Housing Supplements from the Assistance Program.