It occurred to me recently that 95% of what I know about the workings of “employment” as a minister comes from having been a Circuit Treasurer, not because I was actually told these things when entering the ministry! I have put “employment” in inverted commas, because ministers are not in an employment relationship with the Methodist Church of Southern Africa in the conventional sense, but rather in a covenantal relationship, but we receive certain benefits (e.g. pension, medical aid), and similar “rules” (tax, etc.) apply equally to us as ministers as to those in secular employment.
Whenever I have started employment in the corporate world, the first thing that happens is that we are given a booklet, which outlines all the various “need to know” stuff one needs when becoming part of that organisation. I’m talking about real nuts-and-bolts stuff – how the medical aid works, where to submit claims to, how the process works (for instance, on our scheme we are required to pay up front and then claim – something I’ve never had to do in over 20 years on a medical aid scheme), who pays for removals from one Circuit to another, what the practical implications are of being in a “covenantal” relationship rather than an “employment” relationship are, how the whole tax setup works (particularly when one receives travel allowances, are in a Church-owned manse, etc.), and what sort of benefits are available from the pension fund such as funeral cover, group life, pension benefit, etc.
Yes, I KNOW that all this information is available from various sources (EMMU, the Yearbook, MCO, Conference minutes, etc.). However, firstly you need to know where to find what, and secondly, you don’t necessarily know what you need to know! If all of this information was in a single booklet, it would make entry into the ministry that much easier. Perhaps such a booklet could even be handed to you once you make it through the screening process, so that you know what you’re in for before a truck pitches up to take your furniture off to Timbuktu!
I’m interested in compiling a draft of such a booklet, to be submitted to the Methodist Connexional Office for consideration. Therefore, if you are a Methodist minister, please drop me a comment indicating what sort of things you would like to have seen in such a booklet, had one been available when you candidated for the ministry. Stuff you’d even like to know now!
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