President Erwin contributes to article for Sight Magazine

July 30, 2023

"As churches shrink and pastors retire, creative workarounds are redefining ministry," by Elizabeth Evans for Sight Magazine. This article also appears in The Washington Post.

A wave of older clergy will retire in the coming decades, with fewer seminary students in the pipeline to replace them. Those students are likely to find few churches that can afford a full-time pastor of any kind.

Add that the religious landscape is changing and facing serious challenges - where young Americans are increasingly losing interest in organised religion and the majority of believers of all ages, if they go to church at all, are drawn to large congregations; the fallout from polarised politics and a world-wide pandemic - and these are complicated times for aspiring clergy and the people who train them . . .

. . . Former Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Bishop R. Guy Erwin, now a seminary head, sees part of his current job as helping future clergy adjust to an environment in which there aren’t as many self-sustaining parishes as there once were.

“The problem is not that we have a shortage of pastors,” said Erwin, who currently serves as president of United Lutheran Seminary, a dual-campus school in Philadelphia and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. “We have a shortage of congregations that can pay a full-time pastor the way they used to.”

Read the full article