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Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Churches' struggles mean fewer full-time pastors" - A Presbyterian Perspective

Yet another article in recent days about the shortage of ministers in a protestant congregation. Not to beat a dead horse, but Presbyterians also allow married clergy and are facing a severe shortage of pastors...

From The Virginian-Pilot
By Steven G. Vegh

From his pulpit at Coleman Place Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Fred Archer has seen attendance drop and the average age of his congregants rise during the past 10 years. It's a familiar scenario in mainline Protestant churches, and the consequences are already being felt.

"They will not be able to afford a pastor when I leave," said Archer, who is expecting to retire from the Norfolk church. "We're in a precarious situation."

Dwindling in membership and top-heavy with elderly worshippers, congregations such as Coleman's face shrinking revenue that undercuts the tradition of having full-time ministers.

Instead, small churches must sort through options ranging from paying a minister to preach just on Sundays to hiring lay people trained to lead congregations.

"The days of the full-time pastor, except in the very largest churches, are coming to the end," the Rev. Art Jensen said. His former church, Ocean View Presbyterian, now worships under Gary Combs, a part-time commissioned lay pastor.

Demographic trends made this clerical "day of reckoning" predictable, said the Rev. Richard Short, who oversees the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

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