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"Economy: Pastors Face a Perfect Storm" from Spectrum 2010

"Economy: Pastors Face a Perfect Storm" from Spectrum 2010

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Published by campbell_harmon6178
Story extracted from Spectrum 2010, an end-of-the-year print publication, for Yale Divinity School alumni.
Story extracted from Spectrum 2010, an end-of-the-year print publication, for Yale Divinity School alumni.

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Published by: campbell_harmon6178 on Apr 05, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Yale divinitY School
HeN PeGGY NIeDeReR ’01 M.DIV. bcam
pastor in 2003 of Holy Spirit Luthran Church in
, she knew that the small congregation
survival might, on day, com into qustion. By
late 2009, that day appeared to be growing closer as the power-
ful forces of the recession ravaged the church’s finances. Holy
Spirit was forcd to dip into its ndowmnt, and at th worstpossibl momnt.
“The stock devalued at the same time that we needed to with-
draw from it. W took a doubl hit,” says Nidrr. “W maynvr rcovr from that. It may shortnth lif of th congrgation. It could bfiv yars instad of tn or two yars in-stad of ight. It’s hard to know.”Th rcssion, which o∞cially bgan inlat 2007, has takn a harsh toll on HolySpirit Luthran, an
congrgation whr about two dozn popl attnd a
typical Sunday srvic. Th congrga-tion’s prsidnt, a faithful tithr, was
out of work for narly a yar. Giving wasdown by ight prcnt for th fiscal yarthat ndd Jun 30, 2009. Th church’s
prschool, foundd in 1967, struggldalong, with Nidrr filling th dirctor’s position until
Dcmbr 2009. Thn it closd, aftr 42 yars. Across th country,
alumni pastors ar struggling with
th worst conomic downturn sinc th Grat Dprssion.Shpard Parsons ’84
, a Unitd Church of Christ
ministr in Shlton,
, took a 63 prcnt pay cut and wntpart-tim as th sol pastor. Ruth Ann Chartir ’93
pastor, is moving from on financially struggling
church in Massachustts to anothr in Pnnsylvania, in partbcaus sh is imprssd with th nw congrgation’s grittysurvival skills.
Ths xprincs mirror th findings of a 2009 national
study by th Lak Institut on Faith
Giving that capturs
the extraordinary economic pressures at work. Just as endow-
mnt dividnds shrink and church mmbrs thmslvs arsquzd financially, local churchs ar witnssing a jump indmand for th social srvics that thy hav historically pro-
 vided. According to the study, nearly one-third of the church-
s polld rporting having to mak budgt cuts. This figur was vn highr in congrgations with only on ministr.But, vn as this prfct storm of diminishing rsourcs and
hightnd nd is visitd upon congrgations across th
dnominational spctrum,
alumni ladrs ar o≠ringmodls for how to not only surviv but also prospr in such
an nvironmnt. It is a tim, thy say, whn churchs canfill thir congrgants’ nds and o≠r prophtic ladrshipin ways that scular institutions cannot. And, th ongo-ing crisis is also an opportunity to mov along th som-tims glacial procss of rforming andstramlining th businss sid of localchurch oprations. Abov all, thy say,focus on a cor Christian mssag must
 win out ovr th clamor of worrid voicsand distractions.
“In 35 yars of ministry and taching,I’v nvr livd through anything whr
churchs ar as proccupid with th con-
omy as thy ar today,” says Dan Bonnr
, ’77
, a Mthodist pastor
 who heads the Center for Urban Congrega-tional Renewal in Georgetown,
. “What
I encourage folks to do is to keep our eye on
our mission and not frt, crtainly publicly, ovr things wcannot control in our nvironmnt. Th institutions that arstaying th cours and vn xpanding around th dgs arth ons staying on mission. Th mission of th church is thgood nws, th pac and justic, th whol bundl.”
Th Lak Institut’s study, th “2009 Congrgational eco-nomic Impact Study,” found that churchs that hav oldr
mmbrs, ar mor dpndnt on ndowmnt incom, andar smallr in siz ar faring wors than thir countrparts.Th good nws from th Lak Institut, which polld mostlylocal Protstant churchs, smd to b that, ovrall, giving was up from 2007 to 2008, although th rat of incras wasnot as high as in prvious yars.
 Jerry Henry ’80
, chair of the Development Committee
of th
Alumni Board, parss such numbrs for a livingas an Atlanta-basd partnr with th Alxandr Haas fund-raising consulting firm. “Giving to rligion is on of th lastthings to dcras. I think it has to do with th dp spiritual
Shepard Parsons ’84 M.Div.
    Y    e    a    r    i    n    r    e    v    i    e    w
Pastors Face a PerFect storm
by Frank Brown

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