For United Methodist pastors, the job is getting more demanding while paychecks aren’t stretching as far as they used to.
At fault? High gas prices and inflation.
“Up until June 30, I was serving three churches that were far apart from one another,” said Pastor Jon Fox, a licensed local minister who currently serves Sistersville First and Friendly United Methodist churches in West Virginia.
Previously, Fox’s three-point charge consisted of Corley, Sugar Creek and Stringtown United Methodist — all in Barbour County in West Virginia.
“It’s a very rural area (and) things are very much spread apart,” Fox said. “So I had to learn how to work smarter when it came to visiting people … so I wasn’t running all over the place.”
Inflation was 9.1% for the 12 months that ended June 2022, according to the Labor Department, after rising 8.6% previously. It was the largest increase since November 1981. In early March, gas was costing on average $4.33 a gallon, according to USA Today. Though gas prices have fallen some recently, another surge may be imminent because of seasonal demand and rising oil prices.
Nobody’s immune to the consequences, especially pastors of small churches and multi-point charges.
Pastor Sue Simmons has a four-point charge in Iowa, with the help of a “preaching pastor” on Sunday mornings to cover two of her churches.
“I’m really fortunate that the church takes care of mileage for me, and I’m very thankful for that,” Simmons said. “I thought they were very generous with their mileage reimbursement amount, knowing that I still was dealing with study classes. I had to travel to either Morningside or Sioux City (in Iowa), or I had to go down to Garrett (Theological Seminary) near Chicago.”
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Source: United Methodist News