The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America



Similar changes are taking place in other denominations

Similar changes are also taking place in other denominations. Micah Jackson, dean of community life at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, said some Episcopalian bishops are only sending the seminary candidates they know they can place in parishes upon graduation.

"But it's a myth to say there aren't jobs out there," Jackson said. To help with the problem of salaries for new priests, some dioceses in the Episcopal Church are offering salary help to parishes too small or too poor to adequately support full-time ministry.

Episcopal priests are also less likely to come out of seminary with massive debts because most get 100 percent scholarships and have work-study employment.

michael w. watson/designpicsThe Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod is able to place all of its seminary graduates, about 200 each year, said Glen Thomas, executive director of the LCMS Board for Pastoral Education. But of the approximately 900 vacant congregations in the LCMS, 226 are listed as "temporarily non-calling" and another 372 are considered permanently unable to call a pastor, usually for financial reasons.

This number of "non-calling congregations" is expected to grow, Thomas said, which will reduce the calls available to seminary graduates of the future.

Further, LCMS has a program similar to the ELCA's TEEM. Specific Ministry Pastors are trained through distance education, meet regularly with local pastors, and spend a week each year on a seminary campus. After two years in the four-year program, they are eligible for ordination. Begun in 2007, the SMP program has now provided several dozen pastors, often older men.


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