web analytics
Part-time Priest

Part-time Priests?

Part-time Priest

People are, more and more, telling me about experiences with clergy who understand themselves as functioning as priests during a specified time period.

There are clergy who keep office hours. They are present in their church office from the period X to Y, and essentially unreachable outside those times.

There are some who go to church when they are “paid to” – but not when “on holiday”.

There are others who question what business the church has in expecting certain standards of behaviour “when they are in their own leisure time”.

Part of the issue is theological. Is priesthood ‘ontological’ or ‘functional’? Is a person a priest, or does a person do ‘priesty’ things? Scratch away at many worship questions about roles and who-does-what, and that question often emerges.

The concept of ‘stipend’ is part of this – and that, too, has shifted. Significantly. Previously, one offered one’s life to Christ’s service within the church, and the church assured priests and their families with a home (the vicarage) and enough finance to reasonably live on. The pension scheme was such that, by the time you had served to ‘retirement’, the church’s pension added to the State’s came to approximately a stipend – so that essentially one continued with financial security until death, and the spouse after the priest’s death. All this came from the days when one income per family was mostly the norm, and sufficient to live reasonably on.

What does a stipend mean when the priest’s spouse is also earning? Then a ‘housing allowance’ became an option taken up by many, instead of living in a vicarage. Clergy couples became an option: two stipends – messing up the theory that this was a living-allowance for a family. The questions began: should the stipended spouse receive a housing allowance if you were living in the vicarage? If you weren’t living in the vicarage, was that two housing allowances? More and more it began to look like a salary. Then part-stipends arose: a half-time position with half a stipend and half allowances. A 40% position. I know of situations where priests collected part-time positions, resulting with more than a full ‘stipend’. How do you measure the number of hours each position expects?

I raise the stipend issues to illustrate the primary issue: Is a person a priest, or does a person do ‘priesty’ things? Is a priest primarily a role to fulfil at certain times? Or is a priest a particular way of being a Christian? And the same applies to the other orders: lay, deacon, bishop.

Similar Posts:

70 thoughts on “Part-time Priests?”

  1. It’s about what you ARE. As a non stipendiary priest I was asked to submit a working agreement prior to ordination stating how many hours I would do. In practice this is nonsense. I can’t just stop being a priest because my 24 hours are up! Hence last week I did at least 50 ‘working’ but just because I’m then relaxing or shopping-or sleeping-it doesn’t mean I stop being a priest. I do some part time work invigilating exams, when I am in school I am an invigilator and a priest. I do take a day off though, and holidays, I need that, and my family need me to do that. But even so, I’m still a priest.

  2. Perhaps more importantly, why do you need priests at all given that the whole point of the theological narrative centres on the rending of the Temple veil?

    Leaders yes you would require, but why priests?

    1. Thanks, James.

      The use of the word ‘priest’ is regularly misunderstood. The English word ‘priest’ derives from the New Testament Greek word πρεσβύτερος (presbuteros) – a leader in the Christian community. I’m sure you can see the resemblance of the words. It is unfortunate that ‘priest’ is also used for ἱερεύς (hiereus) – the temple position also translated with the term for a Christian leader, ‘priest’. This time you can see there is no resemblance with the word. I think it is probably too late for you to start a movement to call those in the temple position a different word than that used for Christian leaders deriving from the New Testament term for them. All we can do is some proper Christian education about these terms.

      I am not sure that all would agree with you that “the whole point of the theological narrative centres on the rending of the Temple veil”. That is a rather obscure verse mentioned in only one Gospel and unknown beyond that.

      But let us not get too distracted by these points. Whatever one terms leaders, is this just something they do or something they are?


        1. Thanks, Whit. Which is the ‘first’ and which is the ‘third’ order of ministry? ‘Elders’ seem to move all over the place as a concept in Christian churches; sometimes they are concerned with the temporal and administrative affair of the congregation, sometimes they are part of the governance of a congregation, sometimes they are ordained, sometimes not. Blessings.

        1. 1 Peter 2:5 and 1 Peter 2:9 has ἱεράτευμα (hierateuma), which refers to the role in the Jewish temple, Claudia, not to the word from which the English word ‘priest’ originates. The English word ‘priest’, as I’ve indicated, derives from and refers to the Greek word πρεσβύτερος (presbuteros). All the baptised share in Christ’s ἱεράτευμα (hierateuma). I belong to the order of πρεσβύτερος (presbuteros), whilst, like you, sharing in Christ’s ἱεράτευμα (hierateuma) through my (our) baptism. Blessings.

  3. Bosco
    Even having to ask the question is a hellva indictment I think on us clergy.
    Of-course its a calling, not a function.
    Shame on the church if this is not the case.
    Its not a debate that i would want to even talk about. if people don’t like it, knaff off comes to mind, but i may not be able really call that righteous anger, esp coming from e, so i will not say it :~ 🙂

    1. Thanks, Paddy. I think your point points to something else that appears from time to time: we have no province-wide standards for what is required in preparation or discernment for ordination. So the conversations, for example, about ‘what business the church has in expecting certain standards of behaviour “when they are in their own leisure time”’ arises, as I have been told, in post-ordination contexts. These are people whom the church has ordained who are now beginning to reflect on the inherited tradition. Blessings.

      1. “no province-wide standards” appears to be a major issue with the Anglican church in Aotearoa. But of course, one must be careful not to divest too much of the ‘authority’ of the local Ordinary. It might be propitious to watch what Pope Francis is doing in this area – he seems to desire much less governance from the top.

  4. Your article Fr B scratches the surface of a huge and significant issue – one that many laity struggle with as some come to terms with not having a full-time parish priest in their parish.
    It does rather alarm me that there are still many laity who firmly believe the priest is ‘available’ (24/7) simply to provide, to cover their needs, (ignoring the needs of the priest).
    Gill rightly points out that there is no moment one simply stops being a priest – there is no switch, or removing the mask for a few hours. And it is the same for solitary consecrated religious who must have a secular job to keep body and soul together. A priest, or deacon, or religious, is what you ARE! Do laity, (priests even0, understand the meaning of ordination or consecration?
    I am reminded of my tenure as a parish administrator ‘in charge’ of a suspended living, many moons ago. I signed a contract for a 40 hour job, with two days off, (one of which had to be Sunday). Yeah right! The minimum number of hours I ever worked in that role, and very rare, was 65 hours per week.
    You raise some very interesting questions!

    1. Thanks, Graham-Michoel. You are interestingly expanding my points, which include clergy busy-ness to justify their income. And some people’s understanding that the priest is a 24/7/365 available-to-do-stuff person. Another way to view stipend is to facilitate the priest to not need to be employed ‘to keep body and soul together’, but to have space to pray and reflect, so that insight and wisdom can be provided to the gathering community… Blessings.

      1. Bosco, you rightly point to the other side of life, (perhaps especially for the religious), but I possibly take it for granted that if the religious brother or sister has no money in the bank, one can still pitch a tent in a field or under the motorway and keep on praying. At least under the motorway one would be in good company. The rich farmer might not be too welcoming to his field.

  5. Thanks for highlighting this question. I tend to go with ontological (it is something you are). It seems to me that ordination confers a responsibility (and my vows concur) to take up a way of being in the world that is different than the way one was before. If our call is to sacramental ministry then that doesn’t mean just performing the seven sacramental rites but to a manner of being that seeks to point to the presence of God in people’s lives. Being paid so that one can be available to the community one is called to serve is an honor but I don’t think it is absolutely necessary nor should it define the boundaries of the life one vowed to live.

    1. Quite right Jon – all the way! Even if I am contradicting my reply to Fr B, it’s nigh on impossible to live off love these days – except in extremely rare cases the Church of Rome does not financially support solitary religious – sadly the stipend, for those who have it, is pretty much a necessity. From experience I am aware Anglicans make a better job of it.

  6. Priesthood, like the diaconate and the episcopate, are callings, not functions, and an ordained minister is a minister full time, not just when they’re on duty. This entails a willingness to be contacted by parishioners outside of stated hours in true emergencies, and a willingness to minister to whoever needs ministery that they come across. And I have no sympathy for priests who “forget” that they are priests when tempted to sin. On the other hand, I don’t think laity should expect priests to be availible all the time for non-emergencies, nor do I think that priesthood precludes supporting oneself with a secular job.

    Lay or baptismal ministry is somewhat different. My job as a home health nursing assistant, and my service in the church as a lay-delegate to convention, as a chalice bearer, and as an acolyte are all ministries. But they are functional not ontological roles.

  7. Question –how much does an individual pay to become a priest in New Zealand? In the United States it costs tens of thousands of dollars, and is borne by the individual, with no guarantee of paid work upon completion of the program.


    In my country there is no social insurance (no housing, no healthcare, no childcare, etc.) except for those in absolute extreme poverty, and even then the benefits are paltry.

    Jesus asked those who would follow him to give up all that they had. He did not, however, asked them to become permanently indebted and cripplingly beholden to creditors.

    In the US, most people interested in the priesthood understand that they need to either be independently wealthy, half of a two-income couple, or able to work a 2nd, paying job, in addition to priestly work.

    1. I think, Jonathan, this may be drifting away even further from the central point of this post, but when the norm to prepare for stipended priesthood was (a couple) leaving good employment, uprooting to the national seminary, I would estimate the loss of funds by the time of retirement could be in the order of half a million dollars to a million dollars. That is not taking into account issues around not having lived in one’s own home and paying that off (some house costs have increased around 60% here in the last three years, and there are special advantages to first-home buyers that are not available if you do not reside in that purchased home). We keep no province-wide statistics, but maybe 10% of those training for stipended priesthood now are following such a pathway.

      Furthermore, I am very wary of identifying priesthood and ‘those who would follow Jesus and give up all that they have’. All Christians are called to follow Jesus.


  8. Nicely “dug in”, Bosco. The sociological side (two incomes, clergy spouses, etc.) shows how quickly we can assume that an ephemeral social norm expresses an unalterable truth. (Though on the “stipend” side, I’d comment that for working couples with children, one salary is completely gobbled up in childcare costs, at least for the first twelve years…)

    To illuminate the part-time/full-time question, would it be relevant to introduce the concept of “indelibility” of holy orders? The Anglican/Roman/Orthodox practice (I’m not competent to comment on other denominations) is that a priest can never be “re-ordained”, just as a Christian can never be “re-baptized”. Priesthood, like baptism, is for life. So if a priest can never “retire” from “being” a priest (just as a Christian cannot retire from being baptized), then can a priest ever be “part-time”?

    I have this on my mind because just the other day I read George Sumner’s little book “Being Salt: A Theology of an Ordered Church” (Wipf & Stock 2007), which offers an “evangelical” justification of the practice of ordination as an unrepeatable, permanent ordinance comparable (in that aspect only) to baptism. The book overtly attempts to do for the practice of indelibility what Michael Ramsey did for episcopacy in “The Gospel and the Catholic Church”, i.e. to show how the Gospel message entrusted to the Church almost inevitably gives rise to the traditional structures and practices of the threefold ministry.

    I’d give a summary of his position, but I need to re-read it first to make sure I’ve got it fairly.

    1. Thanks, Jesse. Yes, I’m sure you will not be surprised, I understand myself to be a priest – whether I am wearing a chasuble, clerical collar, swimming togs, pyjamas, suit and tie, or a T-shirt. Looking forward to your book summary. Blessings.

  9. It reminds me of our beloved Prime Minister, who is not always the Prime Minister, who might speak to someone in his capacity of Prime Minister, or who may specify that he is speaking to someone outside of his capacity as Prime Minister.
    Or was he just avoiding answering questions accurately?

  10. I am a part-time stipendiary priest of a small parish near our state capital. For my parish to continue in this high-cost-of-living state, it must economize, and calling a part-time priest is one way they can carry on. I am a priest all of the time, but I can only devote about 24 hours a week to the “work” people expect of their parish priest: preparing for worship, writing sermons, meeting with staff, dealing with financial issues, other administrative duties, returning phone calls, editing the bulletin, leading Bible study and Christian education, and don’t forget pastoral care. In truth, it works out to be more than the contracted hours, and I am fine with that. I am also an attorney whose practice is part-time, fortunate to be senior enough and in a specialty where I can control my hours. It’s the law practice that makes it possible to serve a small church for a small stipend.
    By the way, the first ontological change was motherhood. I will always be a mother.

    1. Yes, Megan, you are clear “I am a priest all of the time”, yet you use the term “calling a part-time priest“. I am reminded for a while we had LONSAMs: locally ordained non-stipended associate ministers. I disagree with the concept of being “locally ordained”. There are similar issues around what has been called “Total Ministry” or “Locally Shared Ministry” where priesthood, in some sense, has been ‘chopped up’ and shared around a community. Those who preside have been ordained, but there have been stringent regulations that they not act as priests beyond their parish boundary. There have also been different ordinals used for them. Blessings.

      1. Dear Bosco, It’s the Diocese that sets the compensation rules, such as pay for a certain number of “work units.” I work only half the work units of a “full time” priest. Hence I am part-time. I forgot to mention that I also have responsibilities to the Diocese as all parish priests do. The members of my congregation are rarely far from my thoughts. I cannot turn off my responsibility to them or my desire for their well being just because I’ve done 24 hours of “work” for the church that week. BTW I love my “work”

        1. Thanks for being so specific, Megan. Which diocese are you in, and do other dioceses that you are aware of follow the same system? By “work units” do you mean morning, afternoon, and evening are 3 “work units”? I have come across this concept, with the idea that a priest work two “work units” a “working” day. My diocese explicitly has a 5-day priest’s working week. So that would be 10 “work units” for a week’s work. When you pray, is that part of a “work unit”? When you study the Bible is that part of a “work unit”? When you go to a film as part of preparing a sermon (common for me), is that part of a “work unit”? Blessings.

  11. Given my reservations about how liturgy is conducted i realise that perhaps oddly (RC education) I have long seen the priest as hiereus. Certainly for some time lately I have come to doubt this as in line with early beginnings of christianity and the group leader approach. Perhaps another distinction of followers of Jesus from many other religious approaches, the hiereus is Jesus. .
    in either case, hiereus or presbyteros, it is not a role that only operates during “paid working hours’. Of course I think that applies to many people and their committments, their profession. It is a continuing role, virtually part of your being. Think of poet, painter which are almost self evident but it can apply much wider than these.

    1. Yes, let’s be clear, Brian, Jesus the (High) priest is ‘hiereus’: ἀρχιερέα μέγαν διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς Ἰησοῦν (Heb 4:14 etc). And all the baptised share in that ‘hiereus’: καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡς λίθοι ζῶντες οἰκοδομεῖσθε οἶκος πνευματικὸς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον etc. Blessings.

  12. As a worshipper ina denomination with quite a different administrative structure, my perspective is as follows: church leaders are first and foremost Christians, called to follow Christ and continue His ministry and passed on to us in the Great Commission of Matthew 28. This call of mission is for all believers not just ordained clergy.

    Our denomination emphasises the verse in Ephesians 4:12, that the role of the leaders is to equip the believers to do the work of ministry. This is also balanced with the practical needs for those who commit themselves full time to this role. There are no qualms with the use of the word “salary” and the details of hours “worked” and rate of pay are worked out within each congregation based on what they can afford to support.

    Hope that helps in the discussion.

    1. Thanks, Claudia. There are fish hooks with ‘salary’ language for churches which are exempt from taxes etc. that I’m sure our church (and the government!) are keeping eyes on. I’m a little wary of salaries based on what a congregation can afford to support especially when they can afford very large salaries. We are all aware of Christian church leaders receiving inappropriately high incomes.

      You will be pleased to know that when Anglican clergy are ordained here, the bishop says, “deacons, priests and bishops…are called and empowered to… enable the whole mission of the Church…” The Ephesians verse you mention is central to our understanding of ordination.


      1. I am delighted that your clergy have a good understanding of the verse in Ephesians. Do the lay members of your congregations also have this understanding (i.e. ministry is up to them not just the responsibility of those who are paid for it?)

        1. Just to clarify, Claudia, I cannot judge whether clergy have a good understanding of that verse. I was referring to the public, formal, agreed position. I think referring to oneself as ‘The Minister’ opens up those issues. Similarly, I cannot judge how well laity understand themselves as ministers. In some places, I would think, that understanding is deep. In others, I would think there will be some (many?) who do things because “‘The Minister’ cannot do everything”. I would often refer to four orders of ministry, laity being one of them. I think we are ill served by a perception that there is a ranking of those orders. And that is further not helped by a ranking of clergy titles, and an obsession amongst some about keeping them beyond their functional life. Blessings.

  13. Bosco, thanks as always for your insightful article. I was ordained priest in the CofE as a ‘non stipendiary’ or as I like to say ‘self supporting’ priest, and continued to work full time in commerce – but now of course as a priest- and then took a full time post as parish priest. The only change to my ‘status’ was that I now received a stipend. I am now retired from stipendiary ministry and address myself as a retired priest. Having read your article I consider the term ‘retired priest’ incorrect as I too understand that I AM a priest and not functioning as one. What am I? A Priest (retired)? … i am and always will be a priest.

    1. Yes, good point, John. I alluded to that in the concept of stipend which continued in some (morphed) form until death. I would understand you to be a priest – your source of income to support your living has varied more than once. Blessings.

  14. Kia Ora Bosco,

    I enjoyed reading the post and must say that as someone who was selected, formed and ordained knowing full well that most likely I will never be in a stipended clergy role I, on a very fundamental level see myself as Priest 24/7.

    I don’t feel any less a priest because I am not stipended, indeed, if anything I feel and live into that identity more intensely and intentionally because that.

    Sorry for my waffling, I hope there is some value in it!

  15. The “functional” aspect (as opposed to the ontological one) appears in recent calls among some Anglicans for “diaconal presidency” or “lay presidency”.

    This assumes that anyone can take on the function of a priest occasionally, but that it can be laid aside when the occasion does not demand it. See What is a priest? for examples and references.

  16. For those who feel that Priest is a job to which one can clock on and off, may I just say that after a wonderful and tiring day being a priest I have just returned home, to where I am also a priest and soon I will retire to bed as a priest. And to help me, and those whom I meet along the way, be cognizant of that, I will at all times, outside of those occasions when specialist clothing is required, wear priestly garb including collar.
    In church, in the school, in my study, in the pub and even when playing snooker for the local club I am identifiably a priest. And when I take time off I still wear clericals. It just makes the whole thing so much easier. And even when I used to regularly embarrass myself by running around a football field with a team that followed the modern way of wearing named shirts, mine stated “Rev Pete” on the back.
    I have never understood priests who wish to travel in disguise, particularly those who excuse this behaviour by claiming that their collar presents a barrier. In my experience it has never presented anything other than an invitation.

    1. Thanks, Peter. I have known other priests who always wear their clericals. I have already commented that I don’t, but I have absolutely nothing against others who do. Good on you. I certainly don’t think of not wearing clericals as being in disguise. Like you, I also do not encounter the clerical collar as a barrier. Blessings.

  17. Dear peter and Bosco
    Me thinks the side issue of clergy gear is pretty monocultural, or at least western culture. i cna assure you that had i worn my ‘gear’ where i worked in the Philippines i would have ruined the years of work of the local missionaries and put them and me at severe risk. We ministered inside the muslim compounds (you can read virtual ghettos into that)

    This type of scenario would also apply in many many other countries, and I dare say in certain parts of the UK now.

    I can tell you that as a foreigner here, it is definitely more of a distraction than a talking point. I wear it sometimes depending on the setting, including times when with a very top heavy church :~ just saying.
    Blessings on your ongoing so very good ministry Bos’ 😀
    Paddy (fr, lol)

  18. Hi Bosco

    I think being a Christian is ‘ontological’ rather than ‘functional’ in that as a follower of Christ we are all called to live as such wherever we may be and whatever we may be doing. I see this as being the same for Priests, however, I think they bare an extra load when it comes to the expectations placed on their position.

    I have yet to encounter a Priest as you describe above. All those I have known are more inclined to over-extend themselves. I think it is important Priests have ‘off duty’ times (which would differ for different people/situations) not in the sense of their vocation or behaviour but in the sense of a vacation, in order to rest, be restored and refreshed, as per ‘the standards of behaviour’ –
    “Ministers must give time and care to their families appropriate to family commitments and duties. Ministers need to allot proper time to recreation and the development of their own special gifts and talents.”

    A challenge to all us lay people I think is to recognise our ‘Priests’ are not the only Ministers of the gospel and to support them better but not relying only on them to carry out the duties of ‘the church’ e.g. pastoral visiting, prayer etc.

    Re the stipend one may ask equally ‘is it really a living wage’ now, especially for those who have families? My former Priest who had four children, also had a wife who worked in early childhood. I have no doubt part of her working had to do with children being her calling, however, living in a city – from the outside at least – one got little impression they lived anything but at a baseline economic level. Ultimately I guess, given all the complexity that could be applied to the stipend issue it comes down to the conscience of those called to be Priests.

    Take Care

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I think the over-busyness of clergy that you refer to can be a symptom of a functional understanding of priesthood. I have already suggested that there is another approach to stipended priesthood which questions “clergy busy-ness to justify their income. And some people’s understanding that the priest is a 24/7/365 available-to-do-stuff person. Another way to view stipend is to facilitate the priest to not need to be employed ‘to keep body and soul together’, but to have space to pray and reflect, so that insight and wisdom can be provided to the gathering community.”

      The stipend in NZ is intended to be the average New Zealand wage plus a house. That’s about a thousand dollars a week, plus a house. The ‘living wage’ movement in NZ is seeking about $750 a week (no house). The minimum wage for a 40-hour week is about $550.

      Your reflection could lead a stipend-understanding to have different financial solutions for different contexts, and I was pointing to the issues with our current approach in my original post. Good luck trying to regulate that 🙂


      1. Hi Bosco

        Yes implementing context-based stipends could create such a matrix opting for keeping the current status quo might be the more practical option : ) …

        Perhaps we have just got out of balance in the church re the Priests role of “doing” and “being”. Ultimately most those called to any ministry end up including both aspects, but I do think there has been an over-emphasis on the doing part.

        Quite true re the minimum wage and living wage, though one could wager a single income household would stiill struggle on both of these. Do you know if the current stipend is currently the average NZ wage — could be interesting.


        1. Answering my own question garnered info from latest census average household wage $65,000 from wages/salaries; sitpend $47,200. Got the stipend figure from a Taonga article.

          1. I am very, very wary, Cathy, of your comment. I do not at all believe that the average wage in NZ is anything like as high as $65,000. The median income on the 2013 census is $28,500. I have no idea what you mean by “average household wage”. I would be very surprised if the census had anything called “average household wage”. Could you give us the links to support your points, please. Median rent in NZ for a three-bedroom house is $360 per week – over $25,000 pre-tax income a year. I am not exactly sure where you are going with this, Cathy, but if you are wanting to make some point from this, let’s at least make the points based on careful numbers. Blessings.

        2. Yes, Cathy, the current NZ stipend is approximately the average NZ wage (give or take whoever, and with what motivation the statistician is doing the calculation). On this comes the house (which has some further tax ramifications) – housing has become more unafordable here which also affects comparison with the past. Blessings.

        3. If keeping the ‘current status’ means people operating a full-time ministry while surviving on nothing more than the present pension, then I believe the Church must look very deep in its soul.

          1. Hi Bosco,

            My two sources were:

            Average household income in NZ:
            Stats NZ Economic Household Survey

            Average Clergy Income figure from Brian Thomas 2014:

            As stated above I was only wondering out of mere curiosity or interest… I know the church does its best to offer what it can to support Priests and most people do not enter Ministry for the money, and many are self supporting like St Paul.

            Definitely I agree the supplied house is a real bonus, having rented for 20 plus years!!

            Average household wage is the average income garnered from wages from a household. If you include all sources of income (e.g. investments) it increases to $85 000.

            I thought of using the Average or median income (individual) but thought it is a bit misleading as a comparison as these include all people over 18 who are not working (mothers, students, etc). Also if the historical definition of a stipend, being enough to support a household, was used it seemed the fairest figure to use.

            Best Wishes

          2. Thanks, Cathy.

            If we are getting into the fine details that seem to interest you, the church also puts 9% more than the priest receives into the priest’s retirement fund.

            Taking into account the stipend and housing, the financial situation of a priest is better than many senior teachers in our land. And this financial situation is there from the time of a full stipended position after ordination – unlike teaching where one begins on a significantly lower income and works up, year by year.

            If you are holding to your position that the stipend in our new context be comparable to the average NZ household income without any financial contribution from the spouse, then you need to add the value of the housing in a four-bedroom/living room/lounge/study house to your total. I would dispute your premise, however.

            I would also dispute your identification of the “average household wage” being “enough to support a household”. I have never seen such an identification anywhere previously.

            I disagree with the tenor of “the church does its best to offer what it can to support Priests” – what the church can afford is not the basis on which the stipend is calculated. The calculation is the average wage, plus a house, plus contribution to the pension fund to enable essentially the value of the stipend to continue for life. If the church can afford less it is not the stipend that is reduced.


  19. Yup, i have always advocated that Stip’s are far too much. St Johns had it right: Single rates, married rates and then per child. We were quite well off up there. Its ridiculous the rate is what it is. It should reflect ones family numbers, esp so if a house is part of it. As for clergy busyness: they are quite frankly stupid or scripturally illiterate: If we throw out the 4th commandment, what other ones shall we throw out. As for doing 60 plus in 6 days: I would ask my wife if she was the priest, for marriage counselling or a divorce, and if there is kids, what kind of parent is that foolish priest capable of being?? My Bish when being finally interviewed before ordination said most of his priests worked 60 plus, i sadi exactly what i said here, except more appropriately diplomatic, he kind of repeated his information, i repeated back my intention to work on average no more than 50 hours a week. Being set aside for particular responsibilities is a so humbling, and tough: Putting hours aside a day to continue study as I was required to vow, is the only way I can possibly soak in his word and listen and pray.
    If I sound too black and white, then I am sorry for the sound, but guess its a reflection of being in Africa, where stupid petty highly stiff vestry and committee meetings etc, are still the norm: wonder where they got that from?? 🙂 😀

    1. All very wise, Paddy. I think that the way you describe of stipend varying with context was the way things were done in NZ previously. Someone else may know that history? I also agree about work, prayer, study, and leisure being essential – are priests going to preach wellness and model the opposite? Blessings.

  20. I am not clergy but I think you are a priest 24/7 even if you are not on active duty. Priesthood for me is something you can’t stop being. The role is one of leadership that doesn’t end when you leave your church or office.
    Your parishioners should be able to look up to you at all times which is why I also think that the church has standards of what behavior is ok off the clock.

  21. Rev Andrew Gentry

    We, whether deacon or presbyter or bishop are just sheep dogs and Jesus is the Shepherd is a good place to start. Secondly it is a calling or a vocation not a profession and it does not end by “punching a time clock”! However even sheep dogs need time off and where possible compensation so that one can support a family or oneself in the case of a non married minister.
    In the US the percentage of clergy divorcing and or seeking professional counselling is very high and one of the reasons is lack of sufficient time for family and self.
    As to behaviour we do hold leaders to higher standards and that is not always entirely fair for after all laity should not demand of clergy standards they will not accept for themselves.

    1. I remember, Andrew, a period where the rate of separating/divorcing clergy was such that had it continued (I have a maths degree and I’m not afraid to use it) all clergy in the diocese would have been divorced. That rate has settled, but a statistical study would be a good idea. Is it that Anglicanism combines expectations of celibate always-available priesthood with protestant, studious preaching and rural English pastoring? Blessings.

    2. I have always been amazed at the number of clergy, and religious, who do not take seriously ‘sabbath time’ – it’s laid down in Holy Scripture, including by Our Lord’s own example. Both the door bell and the phone can be turned off.

  22. And then, of course, there is the question of clergy who are ordained priests who, for one reason or another, choose to work in other areas than parish ministry. You, for example, Bosco, happen to be a teacher as well as a school chaplain. It may be that the diocese does not have the responsibility of paying you at all (I don’t know), but still, you are a priest and, as such, your priesthood is ontological – ingrained in you. I know you know that! Your job with youngsters is very important.

    And what about work-place and prison Chaplains? They would seem to have clearly-defined hours, but is their priesthood not part of their lives outside the work-place? (Prison-chaplaincy, which I did while in training at St.John’s, is a wonderful learning curve in ministry)

    I’m pretty sure that most intending clergy do not go into their vocation with a view to corporate salaries. However, as St. Paul says: “The labourer is worthy of his hire” And, after all, ‘God will provide!’ n’est pas?

    Part-tome priests? No such thing!

  23. ‘As to behaviour we do hold leaders to higher standards and that is not always entirely fair for after all laity should not demand of clergy standards they will not accept for themselves.’

    Anyone who has the audacity to stand up and tell others what to do, how to behave- in whatever capacity- must hold themself to a higher standard. Why else would anyone listen to them?

  24. And then there is the whole area of the priesthood of All Believers, mentioned by Saint Paul. Very few of these – who are non-clergy – get paid. Without them, there would be no Church. Like the ordained priesthood, the priesthood of all believers is ontological!

  25. How right you are Father Ron. Where might the church be if all the unpaid – clergy, religious, and laity – were to down tools tomorrow?
    I can now claim to have ‘worked’ for my church for 60 years – only for three of those did I receive a salary. But of course, no regrets, (other than perhaps the three I was paid the minimum for 40 hours a week, but worked an average of almost double that).

  26. I think there are people-of-calling who are compelled to do what they do because of a deep belief, or overwhelming compassion. But there are also the career-clergy, who expect the church to give them a high salary, fund their further education and healthcare, and inform their congregation not to expect anything beyond their allotted working hours or job description.

    ( I’m in the US where the difference between the two is striking, especially since the latter often produce bigger, better-looking churches )

    ‘whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Doing for the least does not a great business make!

    “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business.”

    ‘A Christmas Carol’, Matthew 25. Life itself. The lesson is the same.

  27. There are priests all over the place, chaplains, retired, etc all still priests, who are not in parish ministry at all, to remind us that priesthood is not a job. I would think that the unique tasks of a priest need not extend beyond those things they alone are ordained to do. As a lay person it’s vital for me that someone is set aside to declare my forgiveness at confession; celebrate communion; announce God’s blessing – and I hope intercede for me. Their personal qualities need to be that they need only look at the world in faith, hope and love. Outside that, every activity that a priest engages in represents to some extent a failing either of themselves or the community and should be confessed regularly. We have conflated the leadership role of the priest with a more worldly sort of leadership.

  28. Hi Bosco
    I’m an Old-Thread-Reviver sorry!!
    I’ve been thinking about the stipend/salary issue in a non-Anglican church context and I appreciate the fact that you are willing to openly discuss this. I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years and have spent many hours (outside of my 40+hrs per week daily job and being a husband of one and father of 3) serving the church in a variety of ways including music, bible studies, running children’s programmes and even a spot of preaching, not to mention the time spent with friends who are not Christians. I’ve never been reimbursed for a single minute and it has never crossed my mind that I should be. I have never even considered myself to be a “lay” person. I don’t write any of this for self promotion as there are countless people in churches worldwide who do much more than me and do things better than me.
    My point is this, and to be fair it’s a rhetorical question: am I only a Christian when I’m working for the church? The obvious answer is no.
    But do I stop working for or serving the local church when I am at my place of employment, or spending time with my family or witnessing to friends? I would answer this with Yes. But I’m still a Christian.

    In the same way a doctor is not Doctor Peters to his children, neither is the priest of a local church Father or Reverend Peters – he’s just dad. The only difference is what they are employed to do, although a priest has the incredible privilege and responsibility to care for a local church.

    The responsibility of being a priest/bishop/minister/pastor/leader/overseer is a significant one before God and it is often difficult to nail down how much and when time is spent shepherding a local church and what exactly is involved. But I believe that a church who employs a full-time minister should expect that they are employed to shepherd the church.
    I think I’m saying that I believe a priest, or any of the other titles given to people, employed by a church is a Christian in all circumstances but works as a priest for that church.
    Is a priest a particular way of being a Christian? No – being a Christian is the way of being a Christian.
    Is a priest someone who does priest-y things? My answer is yes, although our definition of what priest-y things are is important and will likely differ.
    Is a priest always a priest? The nature of the role and responsibility means that is a yes as well. I understand the pressure that puts on someone as a priest who may feel like they are always on-call. That is the both the joy and burden of being in that position.

    1. Thanks, Mark, for reviving this discussion. I’m with you, as I understand it, a lot of the way: a priest does priesty things; I think I am also a priest when I am not doing priesty things. I think a possible parallel is spouse. A spouse does spousy things; you are still a spouse when you are not doing spousy things. At work, away from one’s spouse, one stays a spouse. I think that’s one of the reasons how I understand ordination to work/be: the Christian community is ordered and I am in the order of priests (presbyters). Even when I am on holiday I am a priest. Just as a spouse, even when half a planet away from his/her partner continues to be a spouse. Blessings.

  29. Spouse is a difficult analogy here due to the oneness involved. A priest is not one with a congregation, merely a leader in it. Does a leader stay a leader when the leader is no longer leading a congregation? In a sense, as a plumber may always feel a plumber in retirement due to history and abilities, but plumbing is still seen as something done as is leading in most contexts. I get the feeling that for many being a priest is something more mystical than that, and so analogies don’t suffice.

    I am a child of God as God is my Father, that’s ontological. If I move from a Baptist church to an
    Anglican one do I become something different when I go on the roll. If being Anglican is not ontological, how is being an Anglican priest?

    1. Thanks. A further question, then, John: priest may be ontological, but the Anglican context is simply where one exercises this priesthood. Blessings.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.