At our recent November meeting, Diocesan Council approved increases to the 2024 stipend scales. In addition to a 4.7% Cost of Living Allowance, the Council committed to participating in the first year of The Parity Project, a plan which aims to increase stipends over the next five years to achieve parity with certain other denominations. The Council will review this decision annually to determine whether to continue with The Parity Project in succeeding years. Diocesan Council also voted to encourage parishes to extend this same COLA increase for all salaried staff and for Housing Allowances. With this increase comes our commitment to triennial evaluations of Housing Allowances with subsequent recommendations for adjustments for clergy receiving Housing Allowances (not living in rectories).
4.7% Cost of Living Allowance
The attached Primer on the Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) outlines the key arguments both in favour of and against providing employees with salary increases tied to the consumer price index. The Council considered many perspectives surrounding the use of COLA-based salary increases, and understands there are implications for both parishes and priests.
The Gap in Current Clergy Salaries
This graph positions our 2023 clergy pay scales in comparison to other dioceses in Eastern Canada and the broader average of the United, Evangelical Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches in our region:
This visual representation unveils an uncomfortable reality: our diocese’s clergy pay scales trail behind those of neighboring Eastern Canadian dioceses and the broader ecumenical average. As we delve into the specifics of this comparison, it becomes evident that we need a strategic approach to address this discrepancy to foster the well-being of clergy and the overall spiritual vitality of our diocesan community. This graph is the starting point for our discussions and actions aimed at aligning our clergy compensation with regional and ecumenical standards in the pursuit of a vibrant and thriving spiritual community.
The Parity Project
The concept of ensuring that priests receive compensation in line with other denominations has been both advocated and questioned within our parishes and synod office. The Council explored the multifaceted perspectives on implementing market-driven stipend adjustments. You will find in the attached Background Information on the Parity Project the nuanced discourse surrounding the practice of adjusting employees' salaries to align with market wages.
The Council recognizes the evolving dynamics in our parishes, and sees The Parity Project as part of a larger plan to contribute to the growth and relevance of our spiritual community. Fair compensation will help the diocese to attract and retain the qualified clergy we need to steer our church through the challenges of the religious landscape in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
Achieving salary parity is not only an investment in our spiritual leadership but also a strategic move to enhance the vibrancy and health of our parishes and diocese. This holistic approach ensures that the stipend increases are not just financial adjustments but catalysts for a revitalized and dynamic church community. This is the first stage of positioning ourselves for growth, relevance, and sustained impact in the ever-changing landscape of faith communities. To reflect our commitment to fostering a thriving and inclusive spiritual home for both our current members and the generations to come, the additions to the 4.7% increase for 2024 are:
Assuming the COLA will be 3% over the next five years, similar top-ups will help us achieve parity by 2029. If the COLA varies, the top up may vary as well. You will see below the Stipend Scale for Clergy, 2024:
As noted above, The Parity Project is but one part of an holistic approach to Diocesan growth, relevance, and stability. As we look across the financial landscape of the next few years, we are committed to re-examining allotment formulas, revisiting parish grants and other development stimulation tools, and to broaden availability, access, and variety with regards to varied ministry training opportunities (lay and ordained).
We are committed to supporting you and your leadership through this transition and encourage you to be in touch for clarity, conversation, and assistance in facilitating these changes in your parish. We have scheduled Town Hall Webinars to welcome questions and conversation as these changes unfold. The webinar dates are: