You walk into an ELCA congregation, and the
minister is a woman, ethnic minority—even a layperson. While visiting
an ELCA seminary, you see a greater number of female and minority
faculty. In the ELCA’s yearbook, you see that more synod
bishops—perhaps even the presiding bishop—are now female, Latino,
Native American, Asian or of African descent. And none of this
surprises you. It’s commonplace. It’s the future.
Later in this century, ELCA leaders will probably look a lot like those of the first century church, says José David Rodríguez, professor of systematic theology, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He and other experts agree that rostered lay leaders—associates in ministry, diaconal ministers and others—will play larger roles in the 21st century church. They also predict that specially trained, two-vocation lay ministers will serve congregations that can’t afford a full-time pastor.
But it’s not just about supply or having enough pastors, says Melissa Wiginton of the Fund for Theological Education, an ecumenical effort to encourage and assist future church leaders.
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