Support the Café

Search our Site

Tom Buechele: Ageism in the Ordained Ministry, Part II

Tom Buechele: Ageism in the Ordained Ministry, Part II

In discussions and idea exchange on ageism with several retired clergy and professional Church personnel I have received the following:

 

“Where I have experienced ageism the most is when seeing a medical person ie: general practice doc,

eye doctor, etc. Most everything is attributed to my age (76). It’s annoying and condescending. I’ve also

been told by a bishop to go enjoy my retirement when what I wanted was to get more involved in

ministry.” Deacon-Female

 

“Your reflection reminded me that when we first moved to ………., I wrote a couple of the Universities in the town asking if there was any possibility of my offering a course or, at the least, being considered as a guest lecturer, given the experiences I have had. I received no response of any kind. Now ageism might have had something to do with it, but so did meritocracy, another great problem facing the US.”       Professor, PhD. Male

 

“Very interesting. As someone who will be 92 in a few weeks, to me, mid-seventies is the new sixty-five. I came to the conclusion a decade ago, that once you pass eighty nobody listens to you anyway, which gives you the freedom to say anything you want.” Priest-Male

 

“Thanks for this insight Tom, I’m not there yet but I see it.” Priest-Female

 

“Having outlived my two grandfathers and my father, I have thought a lot about being 80 and what that means. I do believe we should not, ipso facto, decide that at age 72, clergy are “finished”, or, relegated to supply sacramentalist roles. For those with energy, good physical and mental health, there are some wonderful ministries available.” Professsor-Chaplain to Retired Clergy

 

A priest friend of mine and myself were tagged once by the Bishop as the “pied piper clergy” of the Diocese. ‘No matter where you go, the folks are sure to follow’, the Bishop commented. At the time I was not sure if that was a compliment or a put down.

We were not trying to be “pied pipers” and as we moved around that diocese, we had some successes, but mostly we laughed, loved, and respected one another and all the folks in those congregations.

Since that time both my friend and I have retired. No longer pied pipers, we both still maintain a love for ministry in and among God’s people. My friend believes that “many of us seem to be burnt out, or worn out, or jaded, or fed up with the bureaucracy, or less willing to subscribe to the Peter Principle or Party Line.” I have found many as he describes, but also I have found others who are itching to celebrate, teach, counsel, and serve.

Sadly, that energy is unused in our and in other churches.  This is unfortunate as there are many congregations who could be encouraged by seasoned experience.

It is not the intent here in these offerings to damn the institutional Church for its complicity in ageism. As we well know, “isms” are pervasive and finds their  expression in mandates, protocols, exclusion. We have heard it said, maybe, who it is who loves the details. But this “ism” for my focus leads, I believe, to images of fragile, incompetent, disabled men and women with “white collars around their necks.

My friend says, ageism “is a systemic bias, which has become so routine, that most would scarcely notice that it is damaging to one’s sense of self and can be isolating.

Writing and sharing my thought on this issue has brought me to wondering is the retired clergy have become a part and parcel of the cancel culture, a modern form of ostracism.

Still, I have written these pieces not in anger but in hope, not in dismay, but in relief, and most of all that the institutional Church, so blessed by so many resources, may take another look at one I fear has been overlooked.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Facebooktwitterrss
Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café