May 27, 2010

Do You Know Your Parsonage Standards?

Did you know that every Annual Conference has parsonage standards? These may vary from Conference to Conference, but at least for those of us in the Tennessee Conference, ours are listed in the Conference Journal every year as part of the policies and standing rules. The must-haves include: energy efficient heating and cooling systems; a stove, refrigerator, dish washer, and dryer; some furniture; window coverings; suitable floor coverings; an adequate lawnmower or lawn service (to be negotiated with the pastor); proper installation, storm windows, and storm doors; a garage or carport; and deadbolts on all exterior doors.

There are additional recommendations as well. If you want to check the standards out, they are on pages 270-271 of the 2009 Conference Journal (the most recent journal).

If you are not satisfied or want to change the standards, talk to your spouse. There are special rules about changing the standing rules and policies.

Currently, our parsonage is lovely; but we've lived in all kinds of houses, including our own.

Are you happy with your parsonage standards? How can they be made better?



  1. Our standards are fine and our current parsonage is fine, but in my opinion, the parsonage system needs to be done away with. For two main reasons:

    1. It prohibits the couple from making their own decisions about where to live, both in terms of location and style of house. We are adults, not college freshmen assigned to a dormitory. (Not to mention tax benefits and building of equity the couple misses out on.)

    2. It enforces a feeling of transience, sending the message to both clergy and congregation that their pastorate is only temporary, and inhibiting investment in the community.

  2. We love the parsonage! I think its very exciting to have a new home every few years!

    We are new to the UM conference.. and its interesting to find out new things...

    If we are placed in a parsonage that doesn't have some of the items outlined in the journal is that something we would talk to the parsonage committee about or our DS?

    When do you bring these things up? It might feel awkward when we first move in? Please advise.

    We are in the Ky conference..Where would I find a conference journal? Is this something that is acquired while at our state conference?

    Thanks for your article.

  3. We were asked to move into a parsonage that was dirty, unkempt and in need of much work. It blew me away that members of a church would expect their leader to live in conditions like that.

    On the other hand, what about the financial hit that you take when selling a home on a move? We don't have 7,000 a year to give to a realtor?

    As a working wife, who "supports" her husband in ministry, seems to be a bit much to ask of families.

  4. Dear Jamie, I went to your conference website and searched for parsonage standards. 11 hits came up, the second one was Equitable Compensation.
    Go there and click on "Parsonage or Housing Allowance Guidelines." I did this and a pdf with the standards appeared. The time to talk about is prior to charge conference where the salary is set. Also each year your church parsonage committee is supposed to inspect the parsonage each year. That would be the time to talk about the house. Also I've found that the UMW is often the group that will buy you things like a new wash machine, etc. if the trustees are slow. Most churches know that they are supposed to keep the parsonage up, but a reminder from your DS is also a good thing. I'm also sure that your bishop, who I've know for a long time, will be interested if your DS is not. And he'll be interested to know the interest level of your DS.
    If you want the standards changed, the changes have to be voted on at Annual Conference. Your spouse can ask how to do this, because you can't just raise this from the floor of annual conference. You have to have a written document before the conference at least 24 hours. Best wishes.

  5. Kathy!! You're amazing...:)
    thank you....

    I will go an look now! Thank you for helping me learn the ropes! It would be wonderful if we somehow could provide a class for ministry spouses to teach them all about the things discussed here on this page!!

    I did find the Journal last night and realized that Pastor needs a password to access the reports. So...I think we will wait till we move and get settled to ask for that!

    So you know Bishop Lindsey? We hear wonderful things about him and truly look forward to meeting Him at conference. Pastor has met him before but I haven't. We have a wonderful, wonderful new DS. His name is Dr. Jay Smith.

    Because our appointment was across districts, we have gained a new DS! Our previous DS is retiring and that really is for the best. Sometimes you can tell when others are worn out! God is good to provide for us through all seasons.

    Thanks again!
    I am so blessed to have this support system!
    I'm going to share this blog with the spouses at conference June 8-12!!!
    God Bless!

  6. A true disadvantage in buying your own home is that you could be stuck if your home does not sell with more than one mortgage payment. When some moves happen every 3-to-5 years, the problems could escalate. We have lived in several parsonages that were not in the best of shape but were brought up-to-date when the problems were presented to the parsonage committee.

    If the move is to be your last, then perhaps purchasing your home would be ideal if the community is also to be your retirement site.

    Some of the small communities do not have much to offer in the form of home purchases which also presents a problem.

    We have been blessed to have congregation who have addressed our parsonage needs. You have to prioritize what is most needed and have them work from that list as they have the money to do so.

  7. I think sometimes we forget that UMC appointments are made yearly and nothing is gaurenteed for longer. That was the vow taken at ordination. Sometimes being in a comfort zone is the wrong thing for a parsonage family. Our lives were meant to be examples for others of the love and sacrifice that comes with spreading the Word. Of the nine parsonages we have lived in all were very respectable and in decent neighborhoods that matched our parishioners. It meant a lot to have a place ready to move into with someone to welcome us there. It is a joy for me to see Jamie's enthusiasm for her new experiences. With her attitude she will be a wonderful example for those she encounters. There will always be things you maybe don't like too well, but mostly they can be fixed if the right procedures are followed. It may sound cliche but the "Lord does provide" and in retrospect the things that we wanted to happen
    but didn't were really the best ways after all.

  8. Nona, you are right that ideally we would be an example of self-sacrifice in accepting the rootless clergy lifestyle. I admire Jamie's enthusiasm as well. I am not the person I wish to be, sadly, and I do wish for self-determination when it comes to where I live.

    If we were to purchase a home, it would be in the place we both want to live, and we would ideally keep it across several appointments. If I can commute an hour to my job, my husband can too.