I have a friend of mine who visits retired clergy, especially those who are shut-in. The visits mean the world to these older pastors. My friend has known some of these people for a long time. They will visit and talk about people that they have known during their ministry, and will reflect upon the time when they were valued.
I know that this comment – “reflect upon the time they were valued. – may appear to sound abrupt. But the truth is that there are a lot of clergy out there, especially retired clergy ,who are not valued and who do not feel utilized.
I recently had a supervisor tell me
“ We need to train the young people so that they can carry on the work from us “. Certainly, there is truth in this statement. Any organization, a corporation, a congregation or a denomination will look to its youth as being its future.
The challenge, however, is when you don’t have a stable of young people ready and willing to take over positions of leadership in ministry. Furthermore, what do you about those congregants who are middle aged, with or without children, those who are partnered either to opposite sex or same-sex members or those who are single parents, or who are disabled, etc.
Having young people, young leaders, may be important but it may not be everything.
According to Lee Hinson-Hasty, Senior Director of the Theological Education Fund of the Presbyterian Foundation:
“ Easily three-quarters of the Presbyterian pastors currently serving congregations will be eligible to retire over the next decade.
Hinson-Hasty contends. Retirements and deaths are outpacing ordinations; a new research study reported by the New York Times in June 2016, citing the work of Eitan Hersh, a political scientist from Tufts University, and Harvard doctoral student Gabrielle Malina, found the median age for pastors in the U.S. (not just Presbyterians) is 57; and Hinson-Hasty and others have begun to argue that a pastor shortage may not be far off.” Pastoral pipeline: Will there be enough ministers to serve the …https://pres-outlook.org/…/pastoral-pipeline-will-enough-ministers-serve-presbyterian-…Cached Sep 26, 2017
The United Church of Christ numbers for churches and clergy list accordingly:
“As of 2016, 21.5 % churches that are 1-50 members,22.9% churches with 51-100 members, 19.0 % churches with 201-400 members and 5.5 % churches with 401-600 members.
Regarding clergy, there are 48.5 % or 4,797 ministers employed, 71.4 % or 3,427 actively serving in a local church ( either UCC or non-UCC) ,and 40.7 % 4,029 retired ordained ministers, with Pastor Emeriti at 10.8% or 1,071 ministers, with a grand total of 9,897.
Total number of congregations-5000, total membership 888,387 Average membership of congregations-177, Average attendance-71. “ Statistics and Reports – United Church of Christ – UCC.orgwww.ucc.org/research_statistics-and-reports
The data would suggest that the UCC is becoming a smaller church with smaller size congregations. Yet, we have over 40 % retired clergy.
Why can’t we utilize them in the cooperative, collaborative practice of ministry?
We have a large group of people here who have a vast variety of skills, and experience and history regarding the denomination who are not being utilized.
How is this good management, let alone utilization of resources?
We can do much better
Everyone needs to be remembered and valued, for the sake of the Kingdom of God and for all of us.
May it be so.