Prior to 1995, the UUA didn't provide any recommendations to help congregations with compensation decisions. The result was inconsistent and inequitable compensation packages for ministers and staff as each individual employee and congregation negotiated their own terms without any guiding information.
In 1990, to address ongoing compensation challenges, the UUA formed the Committee on Ministerial and Church Staff Compensation. This group grounded their work not in "finding the right numbers," but in two fundamental questions that are just as relevant today:
- How can we promote the health and future of our congregations?
- How can we work to assure a ministry to an increasingly diverse and inclusive religion in a world which needs it so desperately?
Over the next five years, the Committee administered surveys, conducted research, held regional meetings, and received advice from a consulting firm. In their resulting report,
To Sustain the Living Tradition
they provided initial recommendations in the form of salary ranges for eight positions and benefit levels for full-time staff. The UUA Compensation Program was formally adopted at the 1995 General Assembly.
Institutional awareness quickly grew. District Compensation Consultants were recruited as ambassadors for the Program. "Fair Compensation" entered the UU lexicon. Congregations were eager to advertise that they met UUA Guidelines. All in all, the ability of congregations and staff to have conversations about salaries and benefits from an informed place improved greatly.
The UUA Compensation Program is now 24 years old. That's impressive staying power! Of course, between 1995 and now, we've made some changes. We've updated the salary charts regularly, added more positions and size detail, adjusted the recommended benefits package, and fine-tuned our methodology from time to time.
But relative to the pace and magnitude of changes in religious life, human resources, workforce trends, and the larger culture, the evolution of the Compensation Program has been modest. So we're undertaking a review of the Program, with a plan to refresh it in phases. Stay tuned to
Compensation and Staffing News over the course of the fall to learn about Phase One, coming in early 2020.