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Seventh-Day Adventists/officer compensation for SDA world church officers


What is the salary paid to Ted Wilson? What salary is paid to the vice presidents? Is this some kind of secret? I have found nothing on this inside sda literature or otherwise.   Thanx for your independent research

There is no secret about the SDA salary scale. AToday did a feature story about this topic in their Sept- Oct 2008 issue.  See: At What Price, by Edwin Schwisow.  Other publications and sources also contain this information.

Here is a portion of this article from AToday, which addresses your question:

Compensation of Tithe-Paid Workers

The majority of those employed by the Adventist Church in North America are paid in accordance with the Division’s remuneration scale.  The scale entitles employees to a percentage (52 to 154 percent) of a monthly base rate ($4,065 as of July 2008). This rate is re-adjusted every year to reflect the effects of inflation.

The highest denominational salaries go not to the world church president, Jan Paulsen, whose salary is at 118 percent, but to doctors and attorneys who work directly for the Church.

What an employee receives is determined by four factors: preparation, education, and commitment; previous experience and achievement; years of service; and responsibility and annual evaluations. An additional factor is added for employees living in areas with a high cost of living.

To illustrate, a pastor six years out from seminary working in Boise, Idaho, now qualifies for 102 percent of the monthly base rate, plus an additional cost-of-living factor of approximately $650 a month. This brings his monthly salary to $4,796 [$4,146 (102 % of $4,065) plus $650].

The pastor is also eligible for a travel allowance of up to $390 per month (1,000 miles at $.39 a mile). In addition, he may qualify for a small auto insurance reimbursement, if his coverage meets General Conference guidelines and the cost of his premium is higher than what is considered a normative level.

Beyond salaries, the Adventist denomination also helps pay the tuition of employees’ children, but only if those children attend Adventist schools. If the students live in a dormitory, the denomination pays 70 percent of their tuition; if they live elsewhere, assistance drops to 35 percent of tuition.

While these policies are the norm for Adventist employees, the reality is often different. When a recent cost of living study done by the Economic Research Institute showed that salaries in the Southern Union needed to be increased, the financially strapped Florida Conference couldn’t afford to do it. That has left Florida Conference employees receiving less than the denominational pay scale calls for.

A Comparison With Other Churches

How does the compensation of Adventists pastors compare with what pastors in other denominations are receiving?

By and large, Adventist pastors are doing quite well, especially those who are less experienced or are leading smaller districts.

An Adventist pastoral intern, hired after four years of college, can expect to receive just over $40,000 in salary in the first year of employment. By contrast, a first-year pastor in the Rocky Mountain Synod of the Lutheran Church receives only $25,781. Most denominations pay first-year pastors between $20,000 and $35,000 a year. Young Adventist ministers clearly fare significantly better than their contemporaries in other denominations.

But the situation begins to change as an Adventist pastor reaches six years beyond seminary (often eight to 10 years into ministry) and 102 percent of the denomination scale—the maximum church pastors can receive, under current policy.  Aside from cost-of-living increases, pastors more or less top out at that point in their careers, at just under $50,000.

At this stage, the typical Adventist minister is head pastor of a church district of 200 members or more. Ten years down the road, at age 43 or so, he may well be leading a district of 400 members. But under the current pay scale, he will still receive the same salary (adjusted for inflation).

Comparing what other Christian denominations pay their pastors at various stages of their careers is somewhat difficult since most denominations are not governed by a central pay scale.

Large denominations, such as the Southern Baptists and the Church of the Nazarene, and most non-denominational churches, begin with a very low initial salary and augment that pay according to market demands, on a situation-to-situation basis.

The pastor’s eventual salary is often determined far more by the size of the congregation than by his or her years of experience, and a successful pastor can reap compensation into the six digits at a church with more than 1,000 members. However, in this model, many experienced pastors with small churches earn less than $45,000 a year, even after 30 years of preaching.

This year, the average salary of an Adventist pastor is slightly more than $50,000, with some receiving as high as $55,000 in areas where their salaries are adjusted for a high cost of living. By and large, these salaries are comparable to those received by pastors in other denominations with centralized pay scales.

AToday Magazine

I hope this helps.

Tom Norris for All Experts.Com

Seventh-Day Adventists

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Tom Norris


I can answer most any question about church history and theology, starting from 1818 when William Miller articulated the 1st Angels Message that became the foundation of the Adventist Movement. While this first prophetic message terminated in the spring of 1844, it was followed by what Adventists refer to as the 2nd Angels Message, which dates from the spring of 1844 until the great disappointment of October 22, 1844. By 1847, the 3rd Angels Message had been developed and this Sabbatarian theology represents the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Moreover, I can explain the historical and theological development of the SDA denomination from its beginning and on through the great Battle Creek schism that forced the SDA's to retreat to Takoma Park. Here the 20th century church recovered from their internal battles that had erupted at the 1888 General Conference in Minneapolis over the definition of the law and the Gospel. Fearing another repeat of this disaster, President Daniels, determined to hide this debate. However, this policy led to more conflict, especially over the role and authority of Ellen White, a unique and accomplished religious writer that had remarkable spiritual gifts. However, by the decade of the 1970`s, the church once again erupted into debate. The hierarchy settled the turmoil in 1980 with the trial of Dr. Desmond Ford at Glacier View. Here Dr. Ford was exiled because he supposedly disagreed with Ellen White over the Fundamentals. But this controversial action resulted in another major schism that is still in progress today.


Tom Norris was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist in Takoma Park, Md. He attended SDA grade and High schools, moving on to study Adventist theology at Columbia Union College. He also spent significant time conducting independent research in the General Conference Archives and the Ellen G. White Estate. Over the years he has also interviewed a number of prominent Adventist scholars, theologians, and Pastors ranging from the late Arthur White to the exiled Dr. Desmond Ford. In addition, he has amassed a large private library, which includes numerous rare books and manuscripts about Adventist theology and history. He is presently the online editor of Adventist Reform, and can be found at Adventist for Tomorrow answering questions online about SDA theology and history as well as promoting Adventist Reform.

Tom Norris attended SDA grade and High schools, moving on to study Adventist theology at Columbia Union College. He also spent significant time conducting independent research in the General Conference Archives and the Ellen G. White Estate.

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