Have you ever wondered about our clergy composition in Western PA? I sometimes think we give recruitment a lot of lip service, but how many of us have ever stopped to really look at who we are and why it matters.
If I’m honest with you, I’d say I have largely ignored these questions. But as I sat at my desk this morning trying to brainstorm names for one particular event, I was blank. I decided these things mattered. I was going to put a few minutes into knowing who we are.
Did you know that of our approximately 600 clergy, only about 50 are under 40 years of age? That’s less than 10%. Did you know that of those under 40, only 14 are women? So just over 2% of our clergy are young women. And really, only 7 of those women are serving in local churches (that’s 1% of our total clergy).
That’s just a snapshot of our makeup. It took about one minute to figure out how many of our young clergy are racial ethnic -- 1. That’s right, 1.
So what do these snapshots mean? Why do we care? I know that it’s easy to get caught up in statistics meant to shock, but that’s actually not my point. What I want to do is encourage you to move you into action. We need new, young leaders, because we won’t be doing this forever.
Right now is the time to consider how we are nurturing call in the next generation. Something’s gotta give. These statistics will not change and churches will not have the opportunity for continued vitality unless we take responsibility as leaders to nurture the call of individuals in our congregations. If you lead in any way in the church, this is part of your calling.
I read this morning that “the privilege of leadership is a temporary position.” Right. Your leadership is temporary, and so is mine. Choose to do something so that the church of the future will be teeming with life, more inclusive, and well served by those that come after you.
And if you know someone with God-given potential to serve, or someone who is discerning their call, reach out to them. Send them my way. Invite them to Get Hooked! Initiate a single step. After all, didn’t someone do that for you?
This is a task for all of us. Thanks be to God for those who nurtured our calls; the clergy and laity that came before us. Now it’s your turn!
WPA Commission on Archives and History