GO TO SOURCE
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, June 9, 2001: Pursuit by potential candidates of more lucrative and less emotionally demanding careers in a booming economy has led to a shortage of clergy to serve in Christian congregations across America. Seminary graduates are often teaching spirituality outside the confines of institutional religion at seminars, retreats and in lay Bible study groups. The average mean age of most seminary students is 35 and even though this age group brings professional experience, they often lack the flexibility needed for this career. In 1994, 944 Presbyterian congregations were able to choose from a possible 1697 candidates in selecting a pastor. However, in May of 2001, 1450 congregations looking for a new pastor soon found out that the new clergy was interviewing them for suitability as only 1277 members of the clergy were available. Unlike the Roman Catholic church that has had problems for years attracting new priests and keeping existent priests who often opt to marry and leave the priesthood, most Protestant denominations have not felt the impact of declining numbers of clergy until recently. Orthodox Jews are also feeling the pinch, especially in smaller communities. According to Rabbi Steven Dworken, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, "We have taught our children and imparted the message all too well that you can be a Jew at home and in the marketplace. They went to Wall Street, they went to law school, they went to advertising." As a result, 50-75 synagogues are without a rabbi this year. Evangelical churches have tackled the shortage problem by training lay people to serve as pastors. The United Methodist Church with 8.2 million members has increased the number of people serving as local pastors, those who complete a special study, non-seminary in nature and serve a congregation. Similar problems are occurring with the clergy of all religions of the world.