As we enter the Fall season, I realize that many of our members and employers continue to face challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a long and difficult struggle for many to remain focused on ministry while worried about finances. In this issue we provide wise guidance to help you stay the course.
First, we bring you the second article by our guest writer, Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson, The Challenge of Ministry Given Pay Inequity. In it she discusses the challenges clergywomen face when answering the call to serve God.
Next, Demystifying the CARES Act explains the legislation enacted to assist Americans who are economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The article contains a summary of the CARES Act provisions that most affect MMBB members and employers as well as MMBB’s emergency assistance programs.
In Budgeting When Your Income Has Decreased, we present useful tips on managing your finances in the face of a job loss or furlough. In it, you’ll find ways to make your money go farther and tips on how to create a budget.
Why Choose MMBB Target Date Funds is a reminder about the addition of Vanguard Target Date Funds (TDFs) to our fund offerings earlier this year. The article provides an overview of MMBB TDFs and how they may benefit you.
Finally, A New Plan Feature Coming Soon, the Roth 403(b), introduces an additional investment option for retirement savings. MMBB is planning to add a Roth 403(b) component to its Member Contribution Plan in 2021.
We thank you for placing your trust in MMBB and look forward to guiding you through these challenging times. In the days and weeks ahead, we pray for God’s strength and guidance for you and your families and those you serve.
Grace and Peace,
Louis P. Barbarin, CPA
Chief Executive Officer
When I was called to serve as Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Needham, MA, the Rev. John “Jack” Fassett, retired missionary, pastor, and member of the church asked me the question that was asked of him when he was ordained in 1940. “Couldn’t you do anything else?” Knowing the rigors of ministry, his ordination council challenged the depth of his conviction to ensure that he was truly prepared. The question still has merit.
By Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson
Ministry is one of the most demanding vocations as measured by work complexity. The breadth of tasks performed by pastors coupled with the prevalent rapid switching between tasks and roles in the position is unique.1 These demands make ministry stressful, and even more so considering the modest salaries commanded. However, discrimination and income inequality increase the challenges for clergywomen.
First, we know that ascension to the pastorate remains elusive for clergywomen. In 2017, the combined average percentage of female pastors in mainline churches was twenty-seven percent.2 While significant, the number is misleading. Fifty-seven percent of Unitarian Universalist pastors and thirty-eight percent of United Church of Christ pastors are women. But only 4.9 percent of Assembly of God pastors and 9.4 percent of American Baptist pastors are women.3 Although some faith traditions are moving toward gender parity, others have a long way to go.
Secondly, where women are ascending to the pastoral office, opportunities for placement and compensation are not equitable. The job search is far more protracted for women as compared to men. A 2003 Episcopal Church survey confirmed that male priests are nine times more likely to be hired as rectors than female priests.4 Then, when women are called, they are more often called as associates. An Associate Pastor in the United Methodist Church is paid on average 29.6 percent less than a Senior Pastor.5
But female pastors are also paid less than men. In an United Methodist Church study, full-time white clergymen earned an average of $58,500.00 in 2008; however, white clergywomen earned $50,300.00, black clergymen earned $51,800.00, black clergywomen earned $49,700.00, and Hispanic men and women earned $48,600.00 and $46,700.00 respectively.6 The study attributes the disparity to differences in seniority, but increased opportunities afforded to men ensure that men will continue to have greater seniority.
Most discouraging, however, is the impact that befalls clergywomen because of occupational feminization, a phenomenon which often results when women enter professions that were traditionally male dominated. We have seen this in the church as pastorates become part-time and congregations diminish and age. Deteriorating levels of pay and working conditions often motivate men to seek higher paying pastoral opportunities, leaving women to fill the vacancies.7 Moreover, as the gender composition of an occupation becomes increasingly female, the valuation of the work being performed decreases because gendered cultural beliefs portray men as more competent and status worthy than women.8 This effect suppresses the entire profession, as has been demonstrated in feminized secular occupations such as teaching, librarianship, nursing, and public relations.9
So, while pastoral ministry continues to be one of the most challenging professions, for clergywomen, the challenges are made more difficult because they are often relegated to low-status positions with deteriorating levels of pay. As churches are more constrained, the stress of trying to do more with less only increases. Yet, I remain hopeful.
First, the conditions of church decline and diminished status are creating opportunities for women to ascend and shine. Clergywomen are making a difference in their local communities, which opens doors for new opportunities. Additionally, as women ascend to senior leadership positions or prestigious pulpits, they are creating paths for others. These trailblazers are inspiring the generations of clergywomen who follow.
Second, I remain hopeful because clergywomen are demonstrating negotiation savvy as they navigate opportunities. Traditionally, women have not negotiated for their compensation packages. Increasingly, however, women are understanding their worth by researching opportunities. They are leveraging strategies like negotiating for maximized retirement benefits, semi-annual salary reviews and non-cash benefits such as additional vacation time or study leave. Women have learned that these strategies are particularly helpful when cash packages are constrained due to the financial challenges of the church.
Thirdly, as I noted in my book Meant for Good: Lessons in Womanist Leadership, clergywomen are demonstrating innovation by discovering new paths to leadership. For example, I received a local church ordination by a duly aligned NBCUSA and ABCUSA church, prior to my installation as Senior Pastor of an ABCUSA church. Once I graduated with my MDiv, my ordination was recognized by ABCUSA where experienced increased opportunities to exercise my gifts for pastoral ministry. Likewise, clergywomen have entered the academy, specialized ministries, and nonprofit management as additional or alternative ways to serve. Increasing numbers of women have also established their own churches. And as a pandemic has forced us to reconsider methods of ministry, clergywomen have been at the forefront, using technology to reach extended numbers of individuals.
“Couldn’t you do anything else?” No! Like our brothers, we are compelled to share the Word of God because we are called to ministry. The work continues to be challenging and those challenges are made more difficult because of discrimination and inequity. Yet, God continues to make ways for God’s daughters to lead, equipping the called with mentors, role models, and resources to make ministry possible. Therefore, I have hope.
The Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson is the Director of Operations for All Girls Allowed, a faith-based, non-profit that restores life, value, and dignity by empowering and educating women and girls and engaging outreach partners for global impact. She was previously the Director of Lifelong Learning at Yale Divinity School. Her newly released book “Meant for Good: Fundamentals in Womanist Leadership,” is available through Judson Press.
1. Debora Jackson, Spiritual Practices of Eff ective Leadership: 7Rs of Sanctuary for Pastors, (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2015), 88.
2. Eileen Campbell-Reed, “State of Clergywomen in the U.S. A Statistical Update,” October 2018, 6.
4. Sarah Sentilles, A Church of Her Own: What Happens when a Woman takes the Pulpit, (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Inc., 2008), 70.
5. Eric B. Johnson, “Salaries for United Methodist Clergy in the U.S. Context – Quantitative Analysis,” Division of Ordained Ministry, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, The United Methodist Church, 2010, 18, https://www.bu.edu/shaw/fi les/2011/02/GBHEM_SalaryStudy.pdf, Accessed 7/6/2020.
6. Ibid, 10.
7. Asaf Levanon, Paula England, Paul Allison, “Occupational Feminization and Pay: Accessing Causal Dynamics Using 1950-2000 U.S. Census Data,” Social Forces, Vol. 88, Issue 2, December 2009, 867.
8. Ibid., 868.
9. Paula D. Nesbitt, Feminization of the Clergy in America: Occupational and Organizational Perspectives (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 130, http://www.questiaschool.com/read/62416359/feminization-of-the-clergy-in-america-occupational.
Creating a budget and adhering to it is hard enough when you have the money to cover your expenses. Add a global pandemic, including the loss or reduction of income and budgeting becomes even more difficult. When you factor in the stress of remote work struggles, home schooling and childcare, close quarters, and isolation, money management and financial wellness can seem like a low priority.
It is normal to be worried about your finances during these uncertain times. One of the top questions for many is, “How long can I make the money that I have coming in last especially if it is less than my typical income?” You may be thinking: Will I be able to pay my rent or mortgage? What happens if I can’t pay my utilities? Will I have enough money for groceries? We understand that you may have to make difficult decisions about where to cut expenses to make ends meet. Financial flexibility is important and is the key to making adjustments in your lifestyle. Learning to carefully manage your savings, and unemployment or government stimulus payments, if you were fortunate enough to receive them can be challenging. Try not to rely on credit cards or lines of credit. If you have debt, work to reduce it if you can and avoid accumulating additional debt. Contact your creditors to determine if they are willing to renegotiate interest rates on your existing credit cards.
The budgeting principles below are important to keep in mind even when you are not experiencing decreased income. But they are especially critical in uncertain times when it can be tempting not to budget at all. When creating a budget, it’s important to:
An integral part of budgeting and financial wellness is to establish future goals for saving and investing. Once you’ve covered your basic expenses, put a little money aside each paycheck in an emergency fund. Start small, saving $20 a week doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up to $1,000 in a year. This will provide a cushion when unexpected expenses such as car or home repairs or medical co-payments inevitably arise.
Earn less – spend less. Most of us are already familiar with this basic financial principle, but when funds are low (or money is tight), it bears repeating. Keep your focus on daily or monthly essentials such as mortgage or rent, groceries, utilities and other household bills.
Limit spending to the bare minimum – deal only with necessities until you are earning more or are back to work. Some of the ways to cut costs are:
If you have never made a budget, now is the perfect time to do it. Although you likely have fewer funds to work with in a downturn, a budget will provide you with a helpful structure going forward. For assistance with budgeting, managing expenses or other financial concerns, contact one of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals at
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act is a sweeping piece of legislation passed on March 27, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic fallout. Up to 6.5 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus,1 others have been furloughed, churches and businesses have been shuttered temporarily due to lockdowns, and some establishments have faced permanent shut down.
The CARES Act has offered a financial lifeline for eligible individuals, churches, and businesses. To serve our members during these uncertain times, MMBB created a list of frequently asked questions about the CARES Act and MMBB’s own assistance programs to off er a clear explanation of the aid most relevant to members and employers. The FAQs are available on http://www.mmbb.org. Read on for a summary of the CARES Act provisions that most affect MMBB members and employers and MMBB’s non-contractual benefits. First, let’s look at the programs for members.
Aid for Members
You can pay back the funds to a qualified retirement plan over three years, beginning the day after the date when you receive a CRD. The repaid funds will not be considered taxable income. You will still owe income taxes on amounts you withdraw that you don’t repay. Therefore, a CRD should be considered as a last option.
Aid for Employers
The CARES Act provides many forms of relief that churches and church-related organizations may be able to use. These include the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), a limited payroll tax credit, and the delay of payroll tax payment for a limited time.
- fully or partially suspended operations due to a COVID-19 related shutdown order,
- or whose gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent compared to the same quarter last year.
The refundable credit is capped at $5,000 per employee and applies against certain employment taxes on wages paid to all employees. Eligible employers can reduce federal employment tax deposits in anticipation of the credit. They can also request an advance of the employee retention credit for any amounts not covered by the reductions in deposits.
See the CARES Act FAQs on the MMBB web site for other CARES Act loans or credits that may affect EIDL and the payroll tax credit or deferral.
MMBB’s Non-contractual Benefits Program
MMBB helps its members and employers through our non-contractual benefits program. Read information about MMBB’s assistance programs below.
Earlier this year, MMBB added Vanguard Target Date Funds (TDFs) to our fund offerings.
What’s in an MMBB TDF?
How Our TDFs Benefit You
MMBB Vanguard Target Retirement Funds:
Do You Want to Learn More?
This promotion is not intended to be investment advice. The promotional content is for informational purposes only. You should not construe the promotional content as legal, tax, investment, financial or other advice.
In our efforts to provide members with additional options for retirement savings, MMBB is planning to add a Roth 403(b) component to its Member Contribution Plan in 2021.
What is a Roth 403(b)?
A Roth 403(b) plan allows contributions to be made on an after-tax basis, your money grows tax-free and then qualified distributions are received tax-free. With a traditional 403(b), you make contributions on a pre-tax basis, your money grows tax-deferred, and distributions are treated as taxable income.
What are the advantages?
Who could benefit from this type of plan?
As we adjust to the new normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are seeking easy and efficient ways to practice contact free banking. Listed below are several options offered by financial institutions to help you limit or reduce your trips to your local branch.
To learn more about the banking tools listed above, contact your financial institution.
This article is for informational purposes only. The inclusion of third-party links does not constitute an endorsement by MMBB. MMBB is not responsible for the results obtained from using this information.
As an MMBB member, it is important for you to keep us informed of any major life events that may impact your benefits.
This ensures that your MMBB benefits will be fulfilled according to your wishes and MMBB retirement plans.
If you have had a major life event this year such as: