Across our denomination this difficult question is being asked, often out of genuine concern for the pastor's dilemma at retirement, when he or she has no real estate investment built up for a retirement home. The question becomes even more difficult to answer with the shift in the nation's economy and in each local economic situation. While there is no absolute, authoritative answer, the following are some of the advantages and disadvantages which is offered to stimulate careful thinking and evaluation. For the complete list and a more detailed analysis see Memo #1 - Housing for Your Pastor: Parsonage or Housing Allowance?
Pro Parsonage and Con Housing Allowance:
- 1. In some situations, there really is little choice. The parsonage may be connected to or adjoining the church building with no alternative for selling or renting. Unless used for Sunday School rooms, it remains the pastor's home.
- 2. Churches owning a parsonage may strengthen their ability to attract the pastoral candidate of their choice who may not be able or willing to buy a home.
- 3. In some areas, there are no property taxes due on a church-owned parsonage, which may mean less expense is involved.
- 4. The church handles repairs and maintenance on the parsonage, thus freeing the minister from these time-consuming worries and expenses.
- 5. Often a parsonage is nicer than what a minister could afford to buy in the community.
Pro Housing Allowance and Con Parsonage:
- 1. A housing allowance may solve the problem of having to build a new parsonage at today's costs, while at the same time help the pastor plan for his retirement.
- 2. With a housing allowance, some feel that compensation planning may be more flexible, easier to compare, and simpler to budget.
- 3. Home ownership suggests permanency and may encourage longer pastorates.
- 4. A home owner pays real estate taxes, he has more voice in community affairs.
- 5. A minister buying a home gets to choose the kind, style, and location.