XPastor tries to help churches by providing some of the essentials for running a church—items like job descriptions, employment applications, review forms and policies. Below is the Staff Educational Assistance Policy of the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg.
The Wesleyan Church of Hamburg (WCH) is committed to developing and maintaining a highly qualified staff and encourages its employees to continue to develop knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in their jobs and provide optimum service to the church, while at the same time preparing them for future call of God to forward Kingdom purposes.
Requests for education assistance must be made in writing to the Executive Pastor with a recommendation by the employee’s immediate supervisor. If approved, funds will be included in the annual budget of the church for the following year. Therefore, all requests must be submitted no later than January 31 of each year for approval for the coming fiscal year that begins on June 1 each year.
The educational assistance program is available to WCH employees who:
- Are current full or part-time regular employees.
- Have been employed by WCH for a minimum of 1 year.
- Pursue college or seminary education.
- Are performing their duties in a satisfactory manner as witnessed by their direct supervisor.
Part-time employees will receive benefits in proportion to the regular hours of employment.
As required by the IRS, this plan:
- Does not favor highly compensated employees.
- Does not allow employees to choose to receive cash or other benefits that must be included in gross income instead of educational assistance.
- Notice of the program is provided to all new employees.
Schedule of Payment
In compliance with the IRS, WCH may exclude up to $5,250 of educational assistance provided to an employee under this plan from the employee’s wages each year. Assistance over $5,250 can be excluded if it is for working condition benefits.
Approved expenses for tuition, course registration, required resource materials (i.e. textbooks) and exam fees will be reimbursed based on funds approved each year in the annual budget. Funds may be received at registration time to assist the employee’s enrollment without financial burden.
Employees utilizing the Educational Assistance Program will be expected to achieve successful completion of the course work. For employees enrolled in a degree program, continuing assistance is dependent upon proof that the employee remains in academic good standing and is on-track for graduation in a timely manner. A grade transcript provided each semester to the Executive Pastor will offer sufficient substantiation of academic good standing.
Resignation of Employment
If an employee voluntarily terminates employment at any time within twelve months from receiving reimbursement under this program (except for what the Senior Pastor and Personnel Committee discern to be a valid call to ministry in another church or Christian organization), the employee is obligated to remit to the church all or part of those education assistance monies received as reimbursement for expenses incurred. Remittance is required in the amount of 1/12 for each of the 12 or fewer months remaining after termination.
For example, an employee who resigns six months after receiving tuition assistance is forgiven one-half of all expenses reimbursed, but is required to remit the balance. The employee agrees that any balance owed to WCH can be withheld from their pay and they will be given prior written notice or will be paid immediately upon termination by the employee.
Repayment is not required if the employee is terminated by WCH for any reason other than cause.
- Courses or training received under this program should normally be held outside of working hours but is flexible if prior approval is given by the Executive Pastor.
- Full-time ministers enrolled in college or seminary classes are expected to work a normal work week schedule fulfilling job-related ministry responsibilities. Time spent in class or in fulfilling course requirements is not to be considered as work-related time.
- WCH reserves the right to be selective in approving educational assistance, closely linking employees’ jobs, budget, future development goals and the specific training they pursue. Initial approval of education continuance does not obligate the church to continued approval of future courses.
- Educational assistance is contingent upon continued employment beyond course completion and may be treated as taxable income in accordance with the IRS regulations.
- This program does not include costs associated with seminars/courses where attendance is required.
- WCH has the discretion to deny approval due to ministry needs, including the need to work flexible or longer hours, or where employee performance has been or could become unsatisfactory.
- Annual amounts given to employees will be $2,500 unless otherwise agreed upon by the XP due to course of study needs.
- Employee should exhaust all other avenues (non-loans) available for funding educational development prior to applying for this program and submit evidence of that fact with the application for this program.