Due to the numerical decline of the Reformed population in Switzerland, ministers celebrate fewer baptisms or weddings; nevertheless, there will not be enough young seminarians ready for the ministry in Swiss Reformed Churches when the next wave of retirements arrive, reports the Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung (July 14–15).
The Reformed faith used to be the largest religious family in Switzerland, before Roman Catholics took the lead in 1970 for various reasons (including large immigration from Southern Europe). In terms of percentages, both Reformed and Catholics have declined since, due to religious pluralization and (since 2000) the rapid growth of people without religious affiliation.
However, Reformed decline has been more pronounced. According to a survey on a large sample of the Swiss population above age 15, in 2010 there were 38.8 percent Roman Catholics, 30.9 percent Protestants, 20.1 percent unaffiliated and 10.2 percent belonging to other religious groups.In 2009, there were 1,399 male and 643 female Reformed ministers active in parishes, plus 675 deacons. While they celebrated 16,240 baptisms across the country in 2005, the number of baptisms was down to 15,178 in 2009; similarly, weddings went down from 5,561 to 4,939 over the same period.
In some Swiss cantons where part-time ministers were once unheard of, there are now such positions. This does not mean there is an overflow of qualified candidates: a number of German ministers were hired in German-speaking Swiss cantons. Considering the number of ministers who will retire in the canton of Zurich in the coming years, for instance, there will not be enough young trained theologians on the job market, and this might mean a new influx of ministers from Germany.