Feast of Thomas Ken
Dear friends in Christ,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our work continues at a brisk pace. We are especially focused on supporting a healthy transition process leading to the election and ordination of our next diocesan bishop.
We are grateful to the Nominating Committee for its excellent work to date. The Transition Committee is off to a fast start. Bishop Smith is ably leading our diocese in this transitional time, and we know he is supported by our hard-working diocesan staff.
In this letter, we wanted to share some news about the compensation of our next bishop. Until Bishop Breidenthal’s time, the compensation of the Bishop of Southern Ohio was shrouded in secrecy. Bishop Breidenthal pulled back the curtain so that the diocese could see the amount of money the bishop receives and know where that money comes from.
Transparency in finances is essential in a healthy system. Our diocese’s treasurers, finance committee, and trustees have made great strides toward greater transparency over the last few years. Diocesan budgets and financial reports are now readily available. This is as it should be.
As shown in publicly available financial reports, Bishop Breidenthal received an annual cash compensation of $322,000 in his last year with us. This amount was funded by a draw from the Charlotte E. Procter Fund, which is managed by diocesan Trustees.
Working with us on the Standing Committee, the Trustees looked at the policies and procedures by which the amount of compensation for the bishop is set. As part of that work, we looked at the compensation of bishops in other dioceses similar to our size and complexity. Our hope was to set a compensation rate for our bishop that was based not on an arbitrary amount from a particular fund, but rather on the prevailing compensation for other leaders.
This change began with Bishop Smith. When he came to our diocese, his compensation was set at $200,000 plus a small amount for housing from another fund, about $9,000. This was by mutual agreement of Bishop Smith and the Standing Committee, with the concurrence of the Trustees. Bishop Smith has been an important conversation partner, helping us to rethink our bishop’s compensation and how we set it.
The work of the Trustees and Standing Committee has continued during Bishop Smith’s time. We have crafted new policies. We believe it is important for members of the Diocese of Southern Ohio and those discerning a potential call as our bishop to know what the next bishop will be paid and where the money will come from.
As we have posted in the public listing inviting nominations for our next bishop, the bishop will receive annual initial cash compensation of $220,000, plus the income from a housing fund, which is about $9,000 annually at present. The cash compensation will be subject to cost-of-living increases, as set by the Standing Committee and Trustees.
In addition, the bishop’s health care, dental insurance and pension will be covered. Under the new terms by which the Charlotte E. Procter Fund is managed, health care and dental benefits will be funded by the C. E. Procter fund rather than by the diocesan convention budget. This reduces the pressure on the portion of our budget that is funded by congregational assessments.
These changes and new policies accomplish three things:
First, we are using diocesan resources entrusted to us in a way that is more financially sustainable for the coming decades and centuries.
Second, we are setting the bishop’s compensation so that it is comparable to other dioceses, yet still generous. The compensation is “rationalized” in that we are making a conscious choice based on peer compensation, rather than drawing an arbitrary amount from a particular fund.
Third, we are seeking to model the transparency that we hope to see throughout our diocese. The details of the bishop’s compensation are available for all to see. Rather than suspecting a “smoky back room,” everyone will know that it is the Trustees and Standing Committee who work together to set the compensation based on data available from the Church Pension Fund. The compensation details will be shared in the diocesan budget, and all of us on the Standing Committee are available to hear questions and concerns.
We hope this news is encouraging, because we believe it is an important sea change in how our diocese has been led and managed. To be clear, we are building on good work that was begun decades ago. Still, we see this new way of compensating our bishop as a significant milestone not only in the transition process, but also in the overall health of our diocese.
During this time of transition in our diocese, we urge you to pray for the Nominating Committee and the Transition Committee, for the Bishop, for all those exploring a call to become our next bishop, and for the Standing Committee.
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favor, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
As always, please write to email@example.com if you have questions, comments, or concerns. We wish you every blessing in this Lenten season. We are,
Dr. James Allsop, President
Dr. Elizabeth Barker
The Rev. Jed Dearing, Secretary
Mr. Barry Feist
The Rev. Canon Scott Gunn
The Rev. David Kendall-Sperry, Vice President