Catch this interesting overview of challenges in the clergy job market from Loren Mead’s blog at the Consortium of Endowed Parishes:
Mead cites the tremendous growth in the number of clergy as a factor impacting the job market. “In 1955, the Episcopal Church had 7,400 ‘clergy,’ and 7,400 ‘parishes’ by whatever definitions that writer was using. But in 1995, there were, 15,000 ‘clergy.’ The number of clergy had DOUBLED, The definitions ARE imprecise, but even with that – WHAT a change! In a relatively short time – 40 years.”
Mead’s stats may overstate the imbalance between clergy and parochial jobs. Some adjustments should be made for the growing number of retired clergy and the growing number of clergy intentionally employed outside of parochial ministry. Even with those adjustments, a sizable gap between available clergy and available, adequately compensated, positions remains.
David Briggs just published a provocative article about older clergy “hanging on to their pastorates” in The Huffington Post:
Briggs starts by citing Bishop William Lawrence, founder of our pension fund. We should thank God regularly for Bishop Lawrence and the Church Pension Fund, as it is one of the best defined benefit plans in any industry.
I’ll confess I am getting dangerously close to older clergy demographic but am still years away from mandatory retirement. Taking early retirement from the Pension Fund in a decade and working part-time is an enticing option. By then there may be a glut of baby boomers all wanting part-time work.