There was only one Priest in my memory who the parish council and Priest mutually agreed to write to the Bishop for transfer. All the others asked to be transfered on their own. Usually the parish found out from the Bishop telling us in a letter that he would be sending a new Priest. If the parish council had any say in the matter of selecting or for that matter firing a Priest there would be no issue. Yes there is a problem with the Church falling under the influence of the Pope the first Protestant.
Oh, great - a popularity contest. Shall the priest campaign for "stay" votes?
I do agree that there should be input from the parish, which is not only heard but thoughtfully considered and integrated into the decision-making process. But we shouldn't go off on the Prot model of parishes hiring and firing their own priests on their own.
Not only are we not allowed to fire the Priest we do not even decide on his salary. Our Priest is paid over $100,000 each year. Including all the benefits ie car, insurance, paid vacation, travel to conferences etc he is paid close to $200,000.
Since you brought it up:
The Archdiocesan Clergy remuneration scale is a flexible guideline for compensation, graded for years of service. How closely your parish should follow it depends on (a) the parish's ability to (i.e. the unique financial situation of the parish), (b) cost of living in your area, and (c) their arrangement with the local hierarch regarding said scale. For example, many parishes cannot afford to follow it, and have dispensation from their hierarchs not to
, at least in a few of the dimensions. The parishes that follow it to a "t" either do it because they value their priest, or because the hierarch has instructed them to.
If your priest's base salary is over 100,000, that means he is a priest of over 21 years of service (in the older scale it was 26+ years of service), which makes him a fairly experienced clergyman. If the priest lives in a parish home, then the "equitable and reasonable 'deduction adjustment'" is removed from that salary. Most parishes that I've visited aren't technically paying their priests "to scale," but they try to stay close. As for the other "benefits,"
- Auto - in the course of pastoral duties (hospital and home visits, house blessings, etc.) priests routinely rack up more than 20,000 business miles per year (for my dad, it was closer to 30,000); it is less expensive purchasing or leasing a car for him than it would be to pay for his mileage or expenses in that situation. For occupations that travel a lot (salesmen, etc.), this isn't counted as part of their remuneration. Most parishes that I've seen do cover this.
- Vacation is standard. Health Insurance is also standard. Whether businesses count these as part of remuneration depends on the field. All parishes I've seen provide vacation; most also do health coverage - the ones that don't, I have no sympathy for, as I consider it to be borderline criminal to not cover the clergyman's health in a field that has poor health overall.
- FICA/SECA - half of this would have been paid otherwise (i.e. if he were an employee as defined by the IRS); the other half is very nice. It's never counted by a business in the total remuneration - it's just the cost of having people instead of robots. Some parishes do this, some don't.
- Expenses for Conferences: this only covers Archdiocesan and Metropolis Clergy-Laity, and Clergy retreats, which are mandatory
events for the priests; businesses very typically cover these types of expenses without counting them in the total remuneration package. Many parishes do this; the ones that don't are usually small, and often they can get discounted registration rates and travel stipends, so they only cover part of travel and all of lodging.
- Sabbatical. This is really a spiritual/mental health break - very beneficial, in my estimation, in a field that includes a lot of physical and emotional wear and tear. Included with educators (which, coincidentally, is frequently the comparison structure used to see if clergy are paid a fair wage - they're compared to education administrators like principals and the like), not others. Only parishes that have nearby support (retired priests, 2nd priest in the parish, etc.) provide this. E.g. My proistamenos took a sabbatical this summer, the only one in 22+ years at this parish. He did it because I was finally ordained and able to take care of things while he was gone.
Correct me if I am wrong, but certainly within most Slavic Orthodox jurisdictions in the USA in large parishes, the remuneration for the pastor and related parish personnel (i.e. cantors, choir directors etc....) comes nowhere near what Father George has outlined. For all of the effort these expenditures require of a parish, I often wonder of the retention rate of young people is any different than among those who have not the numbers or means to do the same. Yet another pragmatic problem for a unified Orthodox structure.