June 28, 2022
United Methodist bishops who have taken on additional work in this time of pandemic-caused disruptions are about to receive what amounts to a bonus.
By a voice vote June 24, the General Council on Finance and Administration board approved monthly stipends for the 16 active bishops who have stepped up to lead more than one episcopal area since January 2021 as some bishops retired or took medical leave.
In addition to their regular salary, 15 U.S. bishops will receive $1,500 a month for their extra work and a bishop in the Philippines will receive $750 a month. The variation is because of different salary structures in each region. Each stipend represents 11% of each bishop’s monthly compensation.
The stipends are retroactive to the start of when each bishop began their additional assignment and only applicable for the months they have served or will serve until December this year.
“The GCFA board wishes to recognize the service and sacrifice these dedicated clergy have made, answering the call of the church selflessly,” said the Rev. Sheila B. Ahler, a board member from the North Carolina Conference, in a statement after the online meeting. She presented the stipend recommendation on behalf of the board’s General Agency and Episcopal Matters committee.
Up until recently, the denomination’s Episcopal Fund — which supports the work of bishops — has been in danger of running out of money. However, both increased giving as well as greatly reduced spending has helped shore up the fund. Having fewer active bishops over the past year has resulted in cumulative cost savings of about $3.1 million.
The active bishops who will receive the stipends have served or are currently serving more than one episcopal area, which GCFA staff say is a bigger responsibility.
“These bishops have essentially taken on an additional full-time job,” said Dana Joki, the finance agency’s director of episcopal services. “They’re taking on a full episcopal area, in addition to their current episcopal-area responsibilities.”
GCFA staff researched what kind of bonuses other organizations pay when executives take on additional senior roles. Usually, such bonuses are 10% of that executive’s salary, Joki said.
She said GCFA staff suggested the stipends be 11% of a bishop’s salary because that would result in a “nice round number” to use on a monthly basis.