Church Pension Group issues first report on lay employee compensation

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Mar 29, 2023

[Episcopal News Service] The Church Pension Group has issued its first-ever report on lay employment and compensation within The Episcopal Church in a look at demographic, geographic and compensation differences among lay employees who are enrolled in retirement plans sponsored and administered by the Church Pension Fund.

In general, the report found that 75% of lay employees are women, with an average age of 50 and an average eight years of service. 51% of lay employees have been in their job for at least five years.

Overall, for all lay employees, the median compensation is $38,000 a year, with full-time employees making $47,000 and part-time employees making $29,000.

The 2022 data covers 13,000 lay employees, which is about 73% of active lay employees enrolled in CPF retirement plans, according to a news release about the report. This includes those who work full time, defined as 1,500 hours a year, as well as those who work part time.

The report was made possible by a change in the information that benefits administrators provide about lay employees, Shirley Yi, a business analyst at CPG, said in the release. However, the positions that lay employees hold were listed for only 40% of them, because most were listed as “other lay employees” without category. The report does not include details on race or ethnicity, since CPG said this information is not collected.

The data showed there are some significant differences in both positions and compensation based on reported gender. More men work full time than women – 60% of men versus 50% of women – and men overwhelmingly work in congregations – 66% – while 46% of women do. A significant number of women work in schools – 33% – while only 9% of men are school employees.

Men make about 15% more than women, with an overall full-time median income of $52,000 for men and $45,000 for women. For part-time employees, men make $33,000 and women, $28,000.For employees for whom a position was listed, the most prevalent position is teacher (38%), followed by administrator (24%), music director/organist (9%) and sexton (8%). Teachers earn on average $36,000, and music directors/organists making the most, a median of $66,000

Full-time lay salaries are highest in the Northeast ($52,000 median) and lowest in the South ($44,000). However, the data shows most lay employees work in the South – 56% – with 21% in the Northeast, 15% in the West and 9% in the Midwest.

When looking at the type of employer, those who work full time for a diocese made the most ($60,000), followed by those who work in a congregation ($48,000), churchwide organizations ($42,000), schools ($38,000) and healthcare ($35,000). For those without an employer listed, median income was $56,000.

The report is here, and the slides used in a webinar to be posted later are here.

–Melodie Woerman is a freelance writer and former director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas.