Home Christian News In Historic Housing Market, the Parsonage Becomes a Trendy Choice

In Historic Housing Market, the Parsonage Becomes a Trendy Choice

“I’m thankful for the two we lived in and the blessing of raising our children in them,” he said. “We didn’t have any issues with the church or any committee just coming over because they owned the house. If we needed something done, we asked, and they were very good about scheduling times to come do the work.”

In March, Parker Moore told BP that he likely could not have accepted the call to become pastor of Cleveland Road Baptist Church near Athens, Ga., had a parsonage not been included. Without it, it’s possible the church would have missed out on a revitalization led by college students.

Still, Hawkins urged pastors and churches to plan ahead when utilizing a parsonage.

“Pastors should consider increasing their retirement contributions to provide additional resources for their post-retirement housing,” he said. “This could be extra money that could be used for a down payment, or perhaps the outright purchase of a new home. In addition, the church could consider providing the pastor an equity allowance through an additional contribution to the pastor’s retirement plan or 409A deferred compensation plan.”

Houck said in the future, especially if his wife returns to working outside the home, they may pursue home ownership.

“I’ve discussed it with my elders, and if I want to buy we will rent the parsonage, possibly out to church staff, and add the money to my package as a housing allowance,” he said.

Houck lives in a central San Diego working-class neighborhood 10 miles from the nearest beach, yet homes are selling for close to $1 million. Mesa Church is currently redeveloping a small duplex on campus for staff housing, he said.

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“In expensive cities, it’s an incredible asset when hiring staff. It’s a lot easier for someone to take a job in a high cost-of-living city if you can give them a place to live, even if it’s only for 12-24 months while they get settled,” he said.

Hawkins pointed out that churches can designate a housing allowance for a minister who lives in a parsonage if the minister pays for utilities, repairs, furnishings or other eligible expenses. Ministers who live rent free in a church-owned parsonage should not include the fair rental value of the parsonage in income for federal income taxes. But they should include the fair rental value of the parsonage in income for self-employment (SECA) taxes.

Hawkins added that ministers who live rent-free in a church-owned parsonage can also exclude one of these two lower amounts on their taxes – the housing allowance designated by the church or the actual housing expenses not paid by the church, which includes utilities, furnishings, repairs and improvements.

This article originally appeared at Baptist Press.

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ScottBarkley@churchleaders.com'
Scott Barkley is national correspondent for Baptist Press.