2013 Clergy Age Trends Report Shows Older Clergy Bubble Growing Larger
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The number of older clergy continues to grow according to the Clergy Age Trends in the United Methodist Church report released today by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary. The annual report is prepared with assistance from the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church.
Older Clergy Reach Historic High as Share of Elders
• Elders between ages 55 and 72 comprise 54 percent of all active elders, the highest percentage in history. This group reached 50 percent for the first time ever in 2010. This age cohort represented only 30 percent of active elders as recently as 2000. Previously their percentage of the total was even lower.
• This oldest cohort of active elders makes up 59 percent of elders in the Western Jurisdiction and 58 percent in the Northeastern Jurisdiction.
• The median age of elders remains at 55 in 2013, the highest in history, reached first in 2010. The median age was 50 in 2000 and 45 in 1973. The average age remains at 53, an historic high, and the mode age (the single age most represented) is now 61, also a high.
The Percentage of Middle Age Elders Continues to Shrink
• The percentage of elders aged 35 to 54 continues to shrink, from 65 percent of all active elders in 2000 to 39.81 percent in 2013. In addition, the total number of active elders decreased again in 2013 and all the loss took place in the middle age group, with modest increases in actual numbers for both young and older elders.
The Number of Young Clergy Stays about the Same
• There are more young elders, deacons, and local pastors than ten years ago, though the percentage of young elders remains low compared to historical patterns, though the trend line is up modestly but consistently.
• For example, there are more young elders than since before 2000, and the percentage of young elders is higher than since before 2000. Young elders as a percentage of all elders stayed in the 4 percent range in the first half of the 2000s and since then have made steady progress in the 5 percent range, moving closer to the 6 percent or higher range last seen in the 1990s.
Full Report Available for Download
Much more information is available in the complete Clergy Age Trends report, which is available as a free PDF download at http://www.churchleadership.com/clergyage. It shows the average and median ages of elders by United Methodist conference and features a breakdown of young, middle age, and older clergy by conference for elders, deacons, and local pastors.
The Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary is pleased to provide this report as a service to the church.
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About Lewis Center | The Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary seeks to advance the understanding of Christian leadership and promote the effective and faithful practice of Christian leadership in the church and the world. The center is building a new vision for church leadership grounded in faith, informed by knowledge and exercised in effective practice. The center seeks a holistic understanding of leadership that brings together theology and management, scholarship and practice, research and application. The Lewis Center serves as a resource for clergy and lay leaders, congregations and denominational leaders. Through teaching, research, publications and resources, the center supports visionary spiritual leaders and addresses key leadership issues crucial to the church’s faithful witness.
United Methodist Bishops work in partnership toward common goals
“Exploring leadership for an emerging church” will be the theme of the first meeting of the Forum of Residential Bishops, scheduled on May 5-9, 2013 in San Diego.
The purpose of the five-day meeting is to create a learning environment where the residential bishops will share best practices, experiments and innovations that are working/not working in order to learn from one another. Each day’s discussion and learning will focus on a different theme, with addresses from selected keynote speakers.
“This will be an intensive time of learning, listening and renewing our commitment to our call,” said Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council of Bishops. “By removing ourselves for a few days from the day-to-day urgency of leading annual conferences, we have an opportunity to jointly gain a wider perspective of the church as a whole and to help one another as leaders from around the globe.”
The bishops have previously committed to hold each other accountable through a covenant to work side-by-side to lead the denomination forward despite existing challenges in order to increase the number of vital congregations and engage congregations in mission and ministry in the Four Areas of Focus.
During the forum, the bishops will develop small accountability groups, and group members will follow up with each other afterwards related to their annual conference, jurisdictional and general leadership roles and responsibilities.
The bishops have identified some specific goals they are collectively working toward, which include:
- Double the number of vital congregations in the U.S. by the end of 2017
- Increase the number of vital congregations in the Central Conferences
- Raise $75 million in the fight against malaria
- Engage congregations in ministries to end poverty
- Start 1,000 new congregations by then end of 2016
- Enlist, support and mentor an additional 2,000 young candidates for ministry
On May 7, the Episcopal leaders will take a field trip to visit the U.S. – Mexico border.
The bishops will share information about their learning experiences through a series of daily updates which will be available on the Council’s website, and will conclude the meeting with a press conference (via web or phone — details to follow soon).
Last year, the Council of Bishops – which is comprised of both residential and retired bishops – decided to create a Forum of Residential Bishops for the purpose of building a learning community among peers. The meetings will be attended exclusively by active bishops; however, the forum will have no authority to make decisions or take actions on behalf of the Council. Such actions would be handled only when the full Council is assembled.
The full Council of Bishops has traditionally met twice a year, though they are not required to do so under church law. In order to make the forum meetings possible without creating additional cost, the Council decided to meet only once a year. Their next meeting will be November 10-15, 2013 in Lake Junalaska, N.C.
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