Ted Herlofson  

Since we're in the middle of summer transfer time again, I thought it might be helpful to make a few comments regarding a major aspect of ministerial transfers; area cost of living differences. Even though you yourself may not be moving this year, you are still affected by area cost of living differences.

Probably most of you have heard of Murphy's Law: "If anything can go wrong, it will." Well, those of us in Ministerial Services feel there must be a humorous corollary to this relating to ministerial transfers. It goes something like this: "Whenever transferred, a minister will only be sent to a higher living cost area." At least so it seems.

Although this obviously isn't the case, there are reasons why it seems to be true. As a nation (speaking basically of the United States, but it probably holds true to some degree of others as well), we are programmed to expect and hope that each move we make will raise our quality of living. It is natural for an individual who is moving to desire to upgrade his living standard. It's part of our success-oriented culture. However, such things as a little larger or somewhat nicer house or apartment in a slightly better neighborhood can significantly affect a person's living costs. Consequently, a substantial increase in the cost of living in the new area may be partly a reflection of an increase in the standard of living and not totally a result of higher living costs.

Also, certain costs are brought to your attention at moving time that have not been a concern in some time. They include such things for the new home as rugs, drapes and curtains, and other necessary items for a different home. Also, the cost of general items such as food and utilities are brought to our attention simply because it is necessary to find new sources for these basics. For instance, I know how aware of prices I am when I visit a new grocery store, I automatically begin comparing prices.

Obviously, sometimes ministers are sent to areas where the cost of living is higher than before. However, even though it might be hard to believe in this day and age, there are lower-than-average cost areas as well as average and higher-than-average cost areas. Those moving from lower-than-average cost areas are likely going to experience a jump in living costs no matter where they go. In such cases, they are losing the special benefit of living in a low cost area. Those who have this benefit often don't realize what a benefit it is until they lose it. Consequently, it hits them hardest when they move to an average or higher-than-average cost area.

Another reason it seems that new areas are high cost areas is that most individuals lack the information upon which to make accurate comparisons. Experience has shown us that two different individuals can have dramatically varying opinions on the cost of living in the same area. All we can do in such cases is chalk the difference up to variations in individual perception.

We realize that higher costs of living in new areas are not experienced by everyone, but for some there are real increases that aren't due to increases in living standards, or from having been formerly in low cost areas, or from a lack of proper comparisons. Some locations just simply are more expensive places in which to live. In another Pastor's Report, we would like to explain what is being done in studying cost of living patterns across the country; and what ideas are being considered in an effort to help with problems associated with ministerial transfers.

Ted Herlofson, Ministerial Services



(Editor's Note: From time to time management and employee memos from various departments are circulated throughout all the offices here in Pasadena, but never reach the field ministry. It is the desire of Ministerial Services to begin reproducing in the Pastor's Report those memos with special relevance to the ministry. Below is a memo to all department managers from Personnel. It was dated May 30 and concerns the subject of pay raises.)

We have been advised that no merit increases, cost of living increases, and/or bonuses can be allowed at this time because of present budgetary constraints.

We realize that inflation and the accompanying escalating cost of living is causing concern for you and your employees, and we hope that the present situation will not last too long.

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Pastor General's ReportJune 25, 1979Vol 3 No. 24