May 15, 2012
Discernment During Institutional Depression
Is anyone else concerned about our church’s impassioned embrace of depression as we look toward General Convention and a challenging future? The Episcopal blogosphere is full of articles underscoring our grim institutional trajectory. A couple of the best are from Episcopal Journey of Hope – Where Have All the Rectors Gone? – a stark appraisal of declining job opportunities in the Midwest, and from The Crusty Old Dean – Guns, Germs and the Episcopal Church, a challenge to the church to radically restructure or collapse.
A few observations:
- Our church is struggling with the same set of social and economic issues that our culture and nation are facing, so it comes as no surprise that our church leaders are exhibiting similar behavior to our national political leaders. It is just disappointing.
- When looking at ways to restructure the church, we should not overlook our discernment/transition/deployment system. It is inefficient and could do a much better job of nurturing clergy needed to lead the church out of the current morass.
- A basic discernment question clergy are asking is: “Should I seek a secular job?” In the last two reported years, 2009 and 2010, paying positions shrank by around three percent a year. Many holding paid clerical jobs see compensation frozen or squeezed at the same time as their workload increases.
- I am trying to locate some clear statistics on the impact of the church’s decline on clergy jobs, but have yet to find a single clear source of facts. I’ll piece together some stats from multiple sources in my next post.
- Rather than talking solely about cost cutting and restructuring, I’d like to talk more about where we still find joy and hope in the work we are doing.