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Background for making the change to new Rocky Mountain Synod (RMS) Compensation Guidelines introduced October 2014:
In 2011, Bishop Bjornberg and Linda Bobbitt, VP of Synod Council, requested that a committee review new and recommended Compensation Guidelines prepared by a commissioned ELCA group. RMS received a copy of these proposed guidelines (narrative and worksheet) for Region 2 synods with the goals to improve consistency and aid in mobility regarding compensation between synods of the ELCA. Over the next year a committee of Synod Council lay and clergy reviewed the documents and current RMS guidelines and recommended that the Rocky Mountain Synod consider them for adoption. A plan for further review, synod (lay and clergy) feedback was presented at the 2013 Synod Assembly.
Following Synod Assembly 2013 a committee was formed of Conference Deans: Prs. Kristi Beebe, Geri Cunningham, Robert Kippley, Penni Walsh; Office of the Bishop: Sarah Moening and Synod Council: Debra Elstad. This committee spent 15 months researching, reviewing, assessing lay and clergy feedback and adjusting the documents presented here. This work included:
- Review and comparison of approximately 10 synod guidelines documents in the western U.S. and compensation practices, annual raises, etc.
- Selecting the Sierra Pacific Synod’s adjusted Region 2 version (in practice since 2011) as the base documents for RMS.
- Review of other similar compensation levels in our region, e.g. high school principals, other denominations and national clergy statistics.
- Comparisons of current RMS vs Sierra Pacific and Region 2 models.
- Sampling models using 2013 and 2014 reported salaries/clergy profiles from RMS representing the broad demographics of the 5 states, rural, town, suburban and urban, very small to large congregations.
- Progressive Draft Guidelines were presented to the Executive Committee and Synod Council at various meetings during this period for review and discussion.
- Presentations at Synod Assembly 2014, conference meetings, and opportunity for feedback from the entire RMS was made available online from June through September 2014.
It was studied and noted by the committee that the current RMS guidelines have been in place for more than 20 years and are now both out-of-step with other ELCA synods in the western U.S., current economic realities in our communities and also are not widely followed based on the information provided by reporting RMS congregations.
A separate committee to represent non-clergy rostered leaders (Diaconal Ministers, Associate in Ministry and Deaconesses) was convened in July 2014 to review the new draft documents. They agreed to recommend using the same documents. The committee made a few minor changes to the narrative document for this rostered leader group and recommended we create a similar, but unique worksheet for these non-clergy rostered leaders. This committee included Anada Guse, Rosalie Fesser, Ann Maki and Debra Elstad.
A permanent committee comprised of 2 lay Synod Council members, Office of the Bishop members and Synod Treasurer, and 1-2 Conference Deans was formed to hear and address feedback, correct any errors (if found), and each successive Fall for October publication make adjustments. Adjustments may include cost of living (COLA) considerations for changes to either the baseline salary ($45,000) and/or compensation adjustment modifier ($1400). Current members of the Compensation Committee include: Office the Bishop: Bishop Jim Gonia, Treasurer Dennis Reynolds, Assistant to the Bishop Sarah Moening; Synod Council: Terry Cole and Debra Elstad; and Dean Sonia Pancoast.