Friday, May 7, 2010

Update: A District President speaks forthrightly

The large number of 2010 graduates without calls is getting discussed all over the place. Today I was pointed to a very lengthy, and for the most part very worthwhile, discussion of the topic over at the ALBP forums.

The Rt. Rev. David Benke, Bishop and President of the Atlantic District, had much to say - all of it forthright and useful.

I'm posting a couple of quotes here with links to the pages on which the entire comments appear. If you wish to interact with Rt. Rev. Benke and respond to him, you should do so over at ALBP.


Clergy shortage or Paying parish shortage?

"I have spoken to any and everyone including those on this forum for years now in an attempt to lay the problem where the problem really is at the root - we have a shortage of parishes with a viable pastoral compensation package. The SMP program in many cases is producing ordained pastors who can serve in a less-than-full compensation role. The "regular" route seminarians will without question face this same dilemna - full compensation is not guaranteed upon graduation and certification. I'm convinced, in fact, that placements being made in recent years at the end of the process in an attempt to find a spot for everyone have not helped, since the candidate is not going to be receiving a realistic compensation in these little parishes, and is going to be expected personally to turn things around in six months to a year. Too much expectation too soon." Link to page with entire comment and context.

On retirement of Boomers and the proper level of vacancy:

"There are (at least) three chaplains at Luther Manor - one full time, two part-time; Missouri and ELCA. One of the part-time men is 80. I frankly don't see 65 as a meaningful number for many pastors in the 21st century. The vocation doesn't have a retirement date on it. Some may choose to be less active but remain in visitation and preaching assignments that would have been those "#2" position in parishes and can be done by someone who has great seasoning. As times change, not all those who have left their main parish assignment are heading to warmer climes,either, and the northern parishes will have more available part-time assignees. The other caveat is that with volunteers and parish-trained visitors, the larger church that used to have a second or third pastor is doing more with less from the ordained perspective.

"That being said, the 4%-6% parish vacancy rate was the benchmark when parishes were larger and more compensationally able. Even if X amount were "messy" or temporarily unable to extend a call, a six month timeframe was what could be advised for pastors wanting or needing to move. No such timeframe exists now." Link to page with entire comment and context.


  1. Do you think there is also a changing attitude towards younger pastors as well? It almost seems as if you are "young" you are supposed to be a "youth pastor" or a "_______ pastor" who handles the hip and fun stuff. I don't know if this is more common than it was 15-20 years ago, but maybe too there is just a disdain for those young guys straight from college-sem and out.

  2. "We have a shortage of parishes with a viable pastoral compensation package."

    When benefits are more then salary congregations might have to say to their pastor we can no longer afford you. Our parish is blessed as we are living within our means, no debt, in the face of 15% unemployment locally. Yet there comes a tipping point. Parishes need pastors and seminarians need calls but if the parish can not support a preacher something has to be done. These are trying times. We’ve weathered storms in the past. The vicarage program I believe was born under similar circumstances. Might we look at the medical school model where a man is placed into a parish for a three year residency after seminary? Pray for wise decisions.


Comments are moderated. Neither spam, vulgarity, comments that are insulting, slanderous or otherwise unbefitting of Christian dignity nor anonymous posts will be published.