Apr 27

How old is too old to join the clergy? – UMC.org

How old is too old to join the clergy? – UMC.org.

My thoughts on the topic have also been submitted to the comment section of the UMC.org site.

I think we need to be discussing much more than just ageism.  Is it not true that there are more second career Elders and Deacons who are female? I can certainly personally attest to the fact that when I was in my early twenties and deciding on which career to pursue I did not see a career in ministry as something that women were doing. They might have been, I just know that in my experience I did not see it. I can also tell you that in my experiences as a young woman in the seventies and eighties I did not see any female clergy in the churches I attended.

 I am in a part of the country where there are more female Elders than the national average, but even now, more than over a decade into the 21st century, I was told that in my conference I will most likely be the first female Elder at every church that I will serve, that statement referred the, more than twenty year span, of my entire career. The churches that I will likely serve, in Upper NY Annual Conference, are not even close to the size of some of the churches in the Texas Annual Conference. In fact the largest churches in my district are much closer to five hundred members and not the one thousand member churches mentioned by one blogger from the Texas Annual Conference. I need to add to the previous statement the explanation that I am referring to less than five churches out of the almost seventy in my district, which is the average size for my conference, but many of the districts in my conference do not have any churches even that big. The fact of life is most newly ordained, or newly graduated, Elders or Probationary Elders, will serve two and sometimes three churches to be able to earn the minimum compensation package.  

So, if the conferences in the country that are home to the largest, and most conservative, United Methodist Churches are saying that they really would prefer that anyone born prior to 1968 “pursue other expressions of lay ministry” and the only conferences that are acknowledging that each individual is uniquely gifted, are the more progressive, but smaller more religiously diverse conferences, then just exactly what is the message of the GBOD and the GBHEM going to be? I happen to come from a conference that is home to a very long line of women in the history of the United Methodist Church. I can’t imagine, but I do not know for a fact, that a woman born in Texas in 1968 would have been more likely to have had more female role models than a woman born in the former Troy Conference.

I think that the Texas Annual Conference may need to take a much closer at, and be very careful in its discernment of, this proposal. Just exactly how many types of discrimination are at work here?

Christine Smith, age 45
Certified Candidate, UNYAC
Drew Theological School, M.Div. exp. 2016

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Permanent link to this article: http://christinejbaxter.net/how-old-is-too-old-to-join-the-clergy-umc-org/


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    • Miranda Rand on April 28, 2013 at 3:50 pm
    • Reply

    Yippee! You go girl! I so echo your sentiments — its supposed to be against the law to discriminate on the basis of age, race, etc. yet discrimination seems to be rampant. More so even in church settings than in the secular workplace.
    I support anti-ageism — let’s get a bumper sticker campaign going!

    1. I am all for the bumper stickers! The reason that discrimination is more rampant in church settings is because they are exempt from a lot of the legislation that makes discrimination against the law. Sad but True.

    • Patricia Johnson on May 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm
    • Reply

    A well thought out and articulated reflection. Thank you for sharing. I am older than 1968 and look forward to recruiting more women in their second career into ministry. Sometimes, it just takes longer to hear the calling with all the distractions of having and raising children done earlier in our lives. With women living so long now, we have many years to offer in service to the church. Having just graduated from seminary, I am so looking forward to it!

    1. Patricia,
      Congratulations on your recent graduation! I am looking forward to it myself ….someday…..! It does seem very far off at this point, but so did undergrad graduation and I made it through that so I will make it through this! I think if this is allowed to become the recommendation in Texas Annual Conference then Nashville and GBOD needs to take a very hard look at the message that it is sending. If anyone why was not ready to follow the call into ministry as a first career is not encouraged to do so who else is also being excluded ? Women ? People of Color ? Immigrants ? People with a lower income ? There are many issues to consider, thank you for weighing in !

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