A “growing breed of mainline Protestant clergy” are serving congregations in exchange for little or no compensation, reports Christian Century magazine (Oct. 18). Although evangelical churches have most commonly used unpaid and part-time clergy, that is changing as many mainline Protestant clergy can no longer afford full-time or nearly full-time pastors.
Scott Thumma, a Hartford Seminary sociologist of religion, sees more bi-vocational ministers—clergy cutting back to half-time or quarter-time ministries while working second jobs.
The unpaid cleric model is gaining ground among Episcopalians. For instance, in the mid-1990s, the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming had few if any unpaid clergy serving its 49 congregations. Now, 20 priests in Wyoming—more than one-third—are unpaid. The number of unpaid clergy—who are usually fully-ordained– is expected to reach 35, according to Lori Modesitt of the Wyoming diocese. She sees this model as “the future of the church”—since it empowers laity to join the priesthood even if they can’t leave other careers. This approach also enlivens congregations as it prevents people from viewing the ministry as just a job.
The article notes that the unpaid trend also includes urban and suburban areas. In the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, which includes Houston, about 25 priests serve without pay after having gone through a part-time training at the nine-year-old Iona School for Ministry in Houston.
(Christian Century, http://goo.gl/dX1GHR)