September 17, 2017
In 1996, the year after I graduated from seminary, presbyteries in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ordained 408 new ministers of Word and Sacrament. Many of them continue to serve and lead in the PC(USA) two decades later in critical ways. In 2016, the PC(USA) ordained about half (47 percent) of the number we did in 1996, with only 214 ordained. While we have fewer congregations in 2016 than 1996, it is only 17 percent less, not 47 percent! The need for qualified ministers of Word and Sacrament will increase as Baby Boomer generation pastors continue to retire over the next decade or so. The median age of a Presbyterian minister in 2017 is over 60 years old. The PC(USA) pastorate mirrors the demographics of about 20 mainline denominations in the U.S.
The call to action is clear. Now is the time to support future ministers by putting our gifts of money, mind and mentoring where God’s mission is: proclaiming the good news of the Gospel of God’s love, God’s grace and the call to discipleship including at the baptismal font, communion table and pulpit. There are lots of ideas about what the future of the church will look like. Ultimately, the answer is up to faithful followers of Christ today. How we respond to putting our money, mind and mentoring gifts to work now will decide what the next two to three decades of the church will be.
What can you do today to live into God’s mission of celebrating theological education and seminaries by supporting future ministers?
Mentor someone or help an organization that is mentoring those with gifts for ministry. Invite them to consider that call and help them start conversations with admissions officers at one or more Presbyterian seminaries.
Nurture a mind, including your own, theologically. Theological education deepens faith and leaders in seminary and beyond.
Give money to support investments in the future of the church. The Theological Education Fund supports Presbyterian ministers being prepared at Presbyterian seminaries.
Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty, Senior Director for Theological Education Funds Development for the Presbyterian Church and Presbyterian Foundation
Today’s Focus: Theological Education Sunday
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
We never stop learning from you, O God,
So, we thank you for the charge of always learning and growing in our faith,
and for all the ways you have granted us that possibility
through the ministry of theological education.
Thank you for seminaries and their students,
for their faculty and staff,
for boards and trustees and everyone behind the scenes,
for the resources and structures in place
that we may never stop learning to speak words about God –
as agents of justice in our communities,
as agents of peace in war-torn places,
as agents of love and compassion in every moment of every day.
In Christ name, Alleluia! Amen.*
*From a portion of the Prayers for the People written by the Rev. Lindsay Rae Conrad, Associate Pastor for Young Adults, Mission and Congregational Care at First Presbyterian Church in Burlington, North Carolina.
For downloadable materials to celebrate Theological Education/Seminary Sunday including bulletin inserts and liturgical resources go to https://www.presbyterianfoundation.org/tef
Today we celebrate Theological Education Sunday in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Please join us today in praying for the church’s future ministers and look for opportunities to mentor those among us who may be considering a call to seminary. The church supports future ministers who are Presbyterian students at PC(USA) seminaries through the Theological Education Fund (TEF). Recently housed at the Presbyterian Foundation, the TEF channels gifts of Presbyterians and their congregations to Presbyterian seminaries and, thereby, invests in the future of Christ’s church. To donate and find out more about the Theological Education Fund here: www.presbyterianfoundation.org/tef