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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 it. Unless used for Sunday School rooms, it remains the pastor's home.
    2. Churches owning a parsonage may strengthen their ability to attract a 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 on a church-owned parsonage, which may mean less expense for the church.
    4. The church handles repairs and maintenance on the parsonage, thus freeing the minister from such time-consuming worries and expense.
    5. A parsonage may be nicer than what a minister could afford to buy in some communities.

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 allowing the pastor to save more for 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 and has more voice in community affairs.
    5. Purchasing a home allows the minister to choose the location and type of housing preferred.

See Also:
Memo #13 - The Minister's Housing Allowance