Nashville clergy re-activate the Covenant Association, originally formed to be a meeting place and voice for social justice oriented clergy who don't endorse conservative politics. The Tennessean reports:
Nashville clergy re-activate the Covenant Association, originally formed to be a meeting place and voice for social justice oriented clergy who don't endorse conservative politics. The Tennessean reports:
A fascinating report titled "Pastors Who Are Not Believers" was released in March. Here is its setup.
The internet and search engines have changed the possibilities for spreading rumors at the same time they opens up the possibility of finding information relevant to clergy search committees. Carol Howard Merritt, author of "Tribal Church" (Alban), offers some thoughts:
In Oprah Magazine, writer (and clergy spouse), Andrew Corsello reflects on the changes that came when he and his family moved from Virginia to California and when his wife, the Rev. Dana Corsello, became the first female rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in San Francisco:
She's a Big Cheese. (He's a Little Annoyed.)
In Oprah Magazine
Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina suspended by the new bishop:
Writing in The New York Times, Paul Vitello surveys the landscape of clergy life and finds that it is not a pretty picture:
We found that pastors' health was worse off across the board than the populations where they serve. Their rates of obesity were about 10 percent higher. We looked at other kinds of chronic diseases. High blood pressure rates were about four percent higher, asthma rates also about four percent higher. Their diabetes rates are about three percent higher than other North Carolinians.
Please share with us your thoughts on clergy health and burnout. It's easy and anonymous. Go here to give us your thoughts.
Elizabeth Kaeton's playing trendspotter. She's thinking about who's got what title in The Episcopal Church, and what some of the critical distinctions between them might be - and, so long as we're on the subject, from where (or whom) those distinctions arise.
Recently there have been a plethora of articles on clergy and the congregations they serve. Some are concerned with burn out, some are blaming clergy or bishops, some are blaming congregations for whatever is troubling in today's churches:
The Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton wonders:
Are we scapegoating our clergy?
A letter from Herb Gunn, director of communication for CREDO, an Episcopal wellness project for church leaders. He reflects on the current news about clergy and congregations and stress:
Dr. Maria Evans, who writes and reflects at the blog Kirkepiscatoid, explores the subject of touch in church, especially as related to clergy.
A study reported on in USA Today has found that more young people are exploring careers in ministry just at the same time that a wave of Baby Boomer ministers are retiring. USA Today calls this "prayers being answered" for churches across the land.
The New York Times ran a crop of letters yesterday in which writers responded to the Times' recent story and op-ed piece about clergy burnout. This one came from Bonnie Anderson, President of the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies:
An Anglican, a former Archbishop of Dublin, has expressed his support for the formation of a Catholic association of Irish priests.
The Colorado Springs Gazette's Mark Barna has a point: both Rev. Don Armstrong and his Springs-based compatriot Ted Haggard have evinced "an ability to inspire congregants."
Religion and Ethics Newsweekly is the latest mainstream media outlet to take an interest in the clergy stress story that has already been featured in The New York Times and on National Public Radio. If we are not mistaken, this particular piece is set at a CREDO conference, although, disappointingly, CREDO isn't mentioned.
A Catholic priest from Florida died during the celebration of the Mass on Friday, AP reports.
Roman Catholic bishops hosted an event ending yesterday that taught priests how to perform exorcisms. It's been reported that 56 bishops and 66 priests attended.
The Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs has issued a press release on the church's Office of Transition Ministry which you can read below. I am wondering if it provides an opportunity for a Cafe community conversation about what the release refers to as the "calling process." How do priests end up where they end up? How well is this process working? How could it be improved?
A group of sociologists associated with Hartford Seminary has published the results of study of clergy women in the Presbyterian Church that revisits a study done in 1993-1994 to see what is now different in their career and career paths.
The conclusions of the most recent study are presented in 5-fold order:
Bruce Epperly, in this week's missive from the Alban Institute says:
New pastors are most successful in the transition from seminary to their first congregation when they expect and accept imperfection as an essential ingredient in the art of ministry.
Might it be a good thing if clergy (or other quasi-public figures) keep two Facebook identities? What might they (we!?) have to hide? Or, is it perhaps just about boundary-setting? What do you think? Should we have one Facebook account for the public side of our life and another for the private?
This being the first full week of the new year, Episcopal Church senior seminarians are hunkering down to take the GOEs. Don't know what this means? Well, the GOEs are the General Ordination Exams which have been administered each year since 1972 by the by the General Board of Examining Chaplains to those who are in the ordination process for the priesthood.
Ron Crawford offers up his advice for New Year's Resolutions for Ministers. What are yours?
The New York Magazine reports that Episcopal priest, the Rev. Aberto Cutié, also known as 'Padre Beto', will return to television this summer.
Church Pension Group releases study on the last 3+ decades of female priests, deacons and bishops:
Called to Serve Study
From CPG Press Release
The Rev. Andrew Cooley, rector of St. Mark's, Durango, CO, recently announced an impending retirement date of May 1. In response, The Durango Herald offered something you don't see much of anymore - a comprehensive and humanely written retirement announcement.
The Association for Episcopal Deacons (AED) is the new name of the group formerly known as North American Association for the Diaconate (NAAD):
This article about about women who have children and have made the ordination vow has popped up in enough places it seems appropriate that our readers should give their take.
The news last week that the College for Bishops was launching a $15 million capital campaign to assure its future was greeted by an unusually large number of negative comments here on the Café, as well as on our Facebook page. More of that negativity was directed at the bishops than seemed fair to me. I am returning to the issue not to suggest that the bishops are blameless, but to because I think it provides a useful opportunity to examine how decisions get made, money gets spent, and interests get met in our church.
Perusing one of your typical let's-get-an-article-in-the-paper notices concerning the ordination of Roxane Gwyn to the priesthood in Fuquay-Varina / Holly Springs, North Carolina (it sounds like it was a hoot by the way), I spied the following in the interview.
Writing for the Alban Weekly, Bruce G. Epperly says:
I often tell new pastors that ministry is a marathon, not a sprint.
Why is it that when we talk about clergy ethics, we tend to think about the kinds of behaviors in which clergy should *not* be involved, rather than the kinds of moral stands they should take?
From the Jesus in Love Blog:
Freelance radio reporter Jesse Hardman has lovingly profiled his father, The Rev. Bob Hardman, whose Parkinsons has been debilitating, yet unable so far to stifle his will.
Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington, Kentucky, has announced the selection of former Washington National Cathedral staff member Rev. Canon Carol L. Wade as its next dean.
Writing for the Alban Institute, Landon Whitsitt asks some provocative questions: to what extent are clergy "experts" at running a parish, and why don't search processes focus much on a candidate's administrative skills?
Rev. Ali Wurm, an openly gay priest who served St. Bede's in the city of Adelaide in southern Australia, recently gave up her post as Priest-In-Charge, acknowledging what seems to be a general failure of acceptance of her life - not just from some church members, but also among fellow clergy, if not within the fuller hierarchy of her diocese.
Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service, rounds up the news on the changes to the Church Pension Group benefit plans for married same sex couples as well as bishops' reactions to changes in marriage equality laws:
The Rev. Mary M. Brown of the Odyssey Networks summarizes the findings of a Lilly Foundation-funded study on preaching in an article for the Huffington Post:
Deborah Potter filed an insightful report on clergy wellness for Religion Ethics Newsweekly in October, and PBS liked it well enough to rebroadcast it last weekend. It features the Rev. Joseph Stewart-Sicking, an Episcopal priest who teaches pastoral counseling, and includes a visit to a CREDO conference at the Lake Logan Episcopal Center in North Carolina. We like it well enough to rebroadcast it, too.
UPDATED - see below
The Los Angeles Times reports:
An L.A. County Sheriff's official confirmed Tuesday that deputies recovered a stolen Rembrandt from the pastor's office of an Episcopal church in Encino.
On his blog Becoming, hospice physician and Episcopal priest Steve Thomason recounts some of his memories of what happened at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest on 9/11/2001.
Rev. Lyndon Harris, who was the priest at St. Paul's Chapel (across Church Street from the World Trade Center) on September 11, 2001, reflects on his process so far and has some things to say about forgiveness.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams sends a video greeting to the Vital Church Planting Conference on September 5.
Okay, pulpit-ascenders and sermon-attenders: Read the following and tell me if it's anything like your experience:
When I started seminary and began envisioning myself as a clergyperson, I started looking at the style of women pastors, particularly women head pastors. And I noticed that virtually without exception, they had “The Haircut.” The Don’t-Think-of-Me-as-a-Woman-Think-of-Me-as-a-Pastor haircut.
From the YouTube channel for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:
Twelve retired clergy came out of retirement to serve congregations that had lost their church homes in a schism. The Diocese of Fort Worth says thank you.
The General Ordination Examinations begin this week. What was your experience? Stories of terror or humor? What strategies do you suggest for getting through the week? For test takers and spouses/partners?
In light of the discussions about the future of the church what is your opinion of the Exams? Do you think the exams make any difference to the church? or are they one more form of "hazing" and "hoops"? for those seeking ordination?
The Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade will serve as interim dean of Washington National Cathedral, Episcopal News Service reports.
There have been some very thoughtful comments lately on The Lead as we think about the future of the church. In addition to sincerely thanking those who have taken the time to read and respond, we thought it might be informative to look closely at some of the comments.
Columbus Dispatch writer Meredith Heagney has filed a story about the impact of the current economic climate on pastors.
Here at the Cafe, we are trying to mix more conversation about the future of the Episcopal Church, and other profound issues, such as whether squirrels go to heaven, into our usual mix of faith-related news. Last week, a post from Scott Gunn at Seven Whole Days, caught our eye. He listed a number of things in the Episcopal Church that need fixing, prominent among them the way in which parishes select clergy.
On Friday we posted a video - "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus" - that had been making the electronic rounds lately. It created a good conversation when it landed here.
The New York Times offers a retrospective on the tenure of the Rev. Bill Tully on the occasion of his retirement as rector of St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City.
The story begins:
The Florida Times-Union published a lengthy story yesterday on clergy burnout and how to avoid it. The story quotes these troubling statistics: 80 percent of clergy say their job negatively affects their families and almost 60 percent say they would leave ministry if they had another vocation.
Rev. Patrick Miller, rector of St. Mark's, Houston, has been a student of boxing since 2007, and as the Houston Chronicle reports, he's striving to integrate lessons learned in the ring with those acquired in the process of his work.
A Harris poll of CEOs reveals what many have said for a long time - that it's lonely at the top - but adds that isolation hinders performance.
Lots of folks could benefit from an Alban Institute tract by Israel Galindo from 2004 that's been electronically promoted. It's called "Staying Put: A Look at the First 10 Years of Ministry."
What happens when clergy lose their faith? It happens more often than most people might think. Most clergy have to struggle with un-belief at one point or another during seminary. Not all resolve the question before they are ordained. Often time the situation returns again and again; at least according to other clergy that I speak with informally.
Edward Guthman of the San Francisco Chronicle has the story of a former punk rock drummer who became an priest:
Rev. Matthew Lawrence, rector of the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa, Calif., proffers a bargain to the Vatican: Roman Catholics can have disaffected Episcopalians if we can have disaffected Roman Catholics.
Thinking Anglicans offers the full text of the recent interview between Times reporter Ruth Gledhill and The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey John, dean of St. Albans.
This may be a matter that is of narrow concern, but I would like to seek the wisdom of our readers on this nonetheless. I’ve had professional reasons in recent years to make a bit of informal study of how various churches, dioceses and parishes have handled the difficult task of informing members about instances of clerical sexual abuse. There don’t seem to be any agreed upon best practices, and it seems that there should be.
I am aware of instances in which church leaders have made a full disclosure of the nature and scope of the abuse (withholding certain details so as not to become too clinical, but conveying just how serious was the nature of the abuse), apologized to the community for this breech of trust, asked other victims to come forward, and promised to keep the community apprised of future developments.
I am also aware of church leaders who have not informed their church communities of the abuse and simply let them learn about it through the mainstream media.
And, finally, I am aware of church leaders who do their damnedest to suppress as much information as possible.
Assuming that a parish, a diocese, or the folks at church center are in possession of corroborated reports of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy or a bishop, how fully and through what channels should they release this information?
I would especially like to hear from members of Episcopal Communicators on this issue, and we can be more liberal than we usually are in granting our commentors' anonymity if that makes it easier for them to tell their stories.
The Anglican Church of Canada is developing a set of competencies for priesthood. They will be used in the formation and evaluation of priests.
We don't usually post job openings, but one of these days, the Cafe is going to start raising some money, and it occurred to us that if the new dean of the American Cathedral in Paris first learned about that opening on our site, he or she might be of a mind to be generous.
What happens when the religious leader in a community loses their belief in God? For some it's a secret they hide. For others it means the end of their vocation. For some it's a temporary thing. And for some it's become a reason to seek support from others in a similar state.
I attended a clericus meeting in Arizona today. One of the topics that came up in our free ranging discussion was the changes that have happened to small to medium size churches that used to be able to employ a full time seminary trained priest. What used to be the most common model of parish ministry has become almost a rarity.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown wants to declare that three Episcopal priests, who were received from the Catholic Church, are lay people.
From a press release from the Diocese of Alaska:
This Sunday, May 27, 2012, The Rt. Rev. Mark Lattime, Episcopal Bishop of Alaska, will ordain to the Priesthood Bella Jean Savino and Shirley Lee.
Pastor Keith Anderson, pastor of Upper Dublin Lutheran Church in Ambler, PA and co-author of the new book Click2Save: The Digital Ministry Bible, is a young pastor and he has listened to other young clergy about their concerns, their hopes, their fears and their wishes.
Julia Fritts McWilliams "represents that postmodern eclectic spirit that isn’t afraid of drawing from different traditions and incorporating that into what she does," says the rector of the church where she works as a priest associate.
Bishop Alan Wilson has done it again. Late last month he checked in with a piece called "How to Change Your Vicar", an insightful meditation on priest-parish conflict. "How To Change Your Vicar: Part Two" makes the seemingly simple point that one can't remove a priest from a parish because the priest isn't doing things that priests can't be expected to do. Wilson writes:
Word comes to us of the passing of The Rev. Terry Parsons, Rector at St. Alban's Bay City, Michigan, and former missioner for The Episcopal Church's office of Stewardship and Discipleship.
Several preachers who share their thinking and sermons online mentioned that this week's readings made challenging sermon fodder.
The Very Rev. John Downey of the Cathedral in Saint Paul in Erie, asks for help with his sermons almost every week in a You Tube feature called "This Preacher needs help." Here is what he had to say this week:
You sometimes get the impression that vicars and priests wouldn't mind a brief sashay down the catwalk instead of the aisle, so colourful and inventive are the vestments they wear.
Amy Frykholm of The Christian Century surveys some of the latest data on clergy wellness and writes:
The United Methodist Church is struggling with the issue of job security for clergy. The Wall Street Journal has the story.
The Rev. David Sibley who keeps the blog, Feeding on Manna, writes about his Thoughts Driving into a Dark Manhattan:
Sorry, but when you come across this headline, you can't pass the story by.
Retired priest, 80, bit 81-year-old fellow clergyman's ear off in fight over parking space
Our item on why people don't go to church is eliciting some heartfelt comments. This one from Ben Miller speaks to what he sees as problems in the way in which we discern priestly vocations. Miller writes:
The Church Pension Group released its statistical report on clergy of the Episcopal Church. Key findings:
Updated: with this link to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's sermon this morning in the Diocese of Lexington. She said, in part:
The Rev. Gary Brinn writing in the Sayville-Bayport Patch
....This year the choir was excellent, as always, though the whole community has been struggling a bit. It isn't easy to reconcile the call to be festive with the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, much less the massacre in Newtown. I tried to strike a balance, hope and challenge in the same homily.
This funny and provocative essay by the blogger at Stuff Wayne Writes asks us to consider whether robots will one day do the job of rectors. It concludes:
The Rev. William Doubleday, priest and professor of Pastoral Theology at GTS for many years, posted this on Facebook March 7 and it has gathered quite a bit of reposting and discussion. Continuing the discussion here, at the Café: What is your experience? As a clergy person? As a church leader?
Spring seems to be the time of interviewing for new calls to churches around the country. More and more search committees are using Skype or FaceTime/iChat for initial interviews. Take this opportunity to present yourself at your best. As an interim an d often the most techy person in the area - I have had a chance to observe some of these. Often I think - what are they thinking? Bad lighting, no make up, clothes that don't fit properly, not testing one's computer and camera before the interview to name just a few things. Maybe you think being spiritual is enough - but you are applying for a leadership position and want to give people confidence in you.
I love this profile of the Rev. Ann Fontaine, devoted Café newsblogger, from the Gazette in Cannon Beach, Ore.:
A poem by a Kevin Lewis from Blog of Kevin of the expectations of clergy by others and of themselves:
Life behind the stereotypes for children of clergy on Religion News Service:
Shane Raynor offers a podcast commentary on the question of whether the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church is making a mistake in discouraging people over the age of 45 from seeking ordination. He asks, provocatively, whether the church shouldn't be discouraging everyone who seeks ordination.
The New York Times writes about "Catholic Whistleblowers, a newly formed cadre of priests and nuns who say the Roman Catholic Church is still protecting sexual predators..."
Rest in peace, Fr. Andrew Greeley. From the National Catholic Reporter:
In a very creative blog post (complete with pictures!), The Rev. Heidi Haverkamp finds herself wondering about her clergy collar in a moment of decision:
Rachel Held Evans writes another top 11 list: "11 Things I Wish More Pastors Would Say". Her first three:
From the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:
From the Vero Beach Newsweekly:
When Father Chris Rodriguez brought his family here from New Jersey last September becoming Trinity Episcopal Church’s new rector, he discovered a congregation that was hurting and needed help.
The Young Clergy Women Project, Fidelia, discusses the costs and promises of being an associate:
Episcopal priests throughout the country are hitting the highway to minister to bikers. From Episcopal News Service:
Carol Howard Merritt, a bi-vocational Presbyterian minister, notes that many pastoral positions will disappear at the same time that a huge percentage of clergy will retire. The temptation will be to depend on bi-vocational ministers to fill the gaps in both staffing and decreased money to pay salaries. She warns that dependence on bi-vocational ministers may not be the cure-all we expect it to be.
Were you or were the clergy you know prepared for pastoring a congregation by their education? Thom S. Rainer talks about eight ares where many are unprepared for the job they are called to do:
Religion News Service has an article by G. Jeffrey MacDonald on the recent trend of unpaid clergy in mainline denominations, with heavy focus on The Episcopal Church:
A sweet story about a widow and a widower who met and married from yesterday's New York Times. The widow is Dana Fern, and the widower is the Rev. J. Douglas Ousley, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan. The piece includes a description of the couples first phone call, in which Title IV, of all things, plays a role.
From ABC news:
Each morning, Senate Chaplain Barry Black opens the session with a prayer to guide senators throughout their day. But from the onset of the government shutdown, Black has turned his prayers into punditry, urging Congress to find a way to reopen the government.
The Rev. Billy Doidge Kilgore writes a post on the Ministry Matters blog that says"I'm done fixing the church":
Non-denominational pastor Jay Haizlip, featured in the Oxygen Network's new program "Preachers of L.A.," thinks the reality show is going to be "phenomenal for the church." Christianity Today notes that the show, "is billed as 'a rare glimpse into the lives of six high-profile pastors from Los Angeles.'
A rising trend of non-stipendary clergy who are called from within their congregation and educated in non-traditional seminaries is noted by Christian Century:
Here's the story of Chris Roussell, a former Catholic priest whose longing for a family led him to leave the Catholic priesthood, and whose subsequent journey led him back to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Robyn Barnes, rector at St. Peter's Church in Edmonton, offers a compelling response to the question, "How are you going to save the Church?"
The Rev. Tim Schenck, on his blog Clergy Family Confidential, wonders about times when we don't like our priest:
A new study from Denmark, in ScienceNordic shows that working for unfair bosses in unfair systems is the main reason for depression in employees.
What does this say about the rising clergy burnout problem. Perhaps it is not overwork but an unfair system and too many bosses. Who is a priest's boss? Self? Bishop? Vestry? and is the church an unfair work environment? What can be changed?
Wisconsin State Journal reports that a federal judge has ruled that clergy housing allowances can no longer be tax exempt:
The Rev. Sharon Temple writes to the former pastor of the church she currently serves about maintaining pastoral boundaries:
The Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford, Unitarian Universalist minister blogs at Boots and Blessings on what happened when she wore a clerical collar:
The Gallup Poll notes that clergy have fallen in the Honesty and Ethics ratings.
UPDATE: The chart referred to in the article is attached below:
A couple of weeks ago The Lead featured a controversial article (Dear Rev. Former Pastor) about former pastors and contact with parishioners from the church the clergy had served. Alban Institute explores the idea further and wonders if there is a better way?
I am struck today by Laurie Gudim's essay at Speaking to the Soul regarding lay vs. ordained ministry. This is a topic close to my heart, as a layperson doing fulltime church work. Gudim writes:
Four clergy from The Diocese of Newark have submitted a resolution to Diocesan Convention, asking the bishop to convene a Task Force to develop a policy to address the bullying, harassment and abuse of clergy by lay persons.
Fifty years ago the Rev. Wade Renn, a former employee of Boeing and the Atomic Energy Commission, decided that he needed to change paths. His new path drew him to the Episcopal priesthood:
The rocky road facing seminaries and those seeking ordination in the mainline Protestant churches is illustrated by two recent articles.
The first, in the Christian Century lays out the problem from an institutional point of view:
Stories of the announcement by the Rev. Gwen Fry of Grace Episcopal Church, Pine Bluff, Arkansas are circulating in the press and blogs. Prayers for all in this time of transition:
A letter from the Rev. Gwen Fry:
"They call themselves the Rectors of Rock. The Fathers of Funk. The Collar Studs."
So begins the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's story on a rock band comprising four Episcopal priests.
Bishop Larry Benfield of Arkansas last night dissolved the relationship between the Rev. Gwen Fry, a transgender priest, and Grace Episcopal Church in Pine Bluff. The Rev. Fry, who had previously been known as Greg, had informed the congregation on Sunday, that she was in transition.
On Faith discusses a book and study on clergy who have lost their faith but have continued to preach. Is there a place of them in the church? And how can the church support them in their faith crisis?
Last week, the Cafe published Laurie Brock's piece about what needs to die so that the Church might find reinvigorated life. Among the items she listed was our propensity to ordain people just because they were 'nice', and not because they evidenced any of the skills that made people effective priests.
In a stab at what those skills might be, comes this article from Congregational Consulting.
On June 22nd, the Washington National Cathedral will celebrate Pride Month by featuring the Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge as the first openly transgender priest to preach in the history of the cathedral. In a statement to the Huffington Post, Dean Gary Hall says:
Here are some depressing numbers from J. R. Briggs' recent article at Faith Street, "Why Half of All Pastors Want to Quit Their Jobs":
The Atlantic notes that full-time salaried church positions for clergy are becoming rarer:
Where are they now? Forty years ago the first women were ordained as priests in The Episcopal Church. Religion News Service reports:
The Network of Episcopal Clergy Associations and The Episcopal Women's Caucus have joined together to raise awareness of clergy serving in difficult situations and develop systems of care. They have asked 12 individuals from in and around the church to address challenging calls and issues relating to workplace bullying.
Beau Underwood relates his experience of bi-vocational ministry on Sojourners' God's Politics Blog: