A clergy shortage is impacting synagogues as well as Protestant and Catholic churches, reports the New York Times (Feb. 14).
The problem is most acute in the Jewish denominations and the Catholic Church. In Reform Judaism, about 200 out of 895 congregations are without a full-time rabbi. The modern Orthodox branch has a similar shortage, though the shortage in Orthodoxy is largely due to the growth of new and small congregations.
The shortage in the ranks of the Jewish clergy started about five years. Before that time, there was a glut of rabbis, which resulted in a de-emphasis on clergy recruitment. For Catholics the number of parish priests declined by 12 percent from 1992 to1997. The article notes that clergy recruitment is particularly difficult in the Episcopal Church (which is the only Protestant denomination mentioned).
An official estimates that the church has under 300 members of the clergy out of 15,000 who were born after 1964. The church is feeling the shortage in both urban as well as in rural parishes. While some say that the robust economy is the reason for the lull, one specialist views the declining appeal of the ministry more a result of the rejection of authority.