A Resolution to Encourage Using Retired Clergy to Support and Strengthen Congregations in the Metropolitan New York Synod of the ELCA

Resolution III: A Resolution to Encourage Using Retired Clergy to Support and Strengthen Congregations in the Metropolitan New York Synod of the ELCA

An online hearing to present and discuss this resolution is scheduled for Saturday, April 29, at 10 a.m. Please join us by accessing the online hearing through this link.
WHEREAS in recent years in many mainline Christian denominations in the United States there has been a growing awareness of the decline in both membership and financial support in many congregations as well as a decrease in the number of ordained clergy available, and
WHEREAS there is currently a substantial gap between the number of students enrolled in theological seminaries who are preparing for ordained ministry as well as an increase in the number of clergy who are retiring from active ministry or approaching retirement age, and
WHEREAS in the Metro New York Synod there are many congregations that do not have pastoral leadership because of the lack of candidates or because they lack sufficient financial resources to the support full or even part-time clergy to serve them, and
WHEREAS the ELCA, through Portico Benefits, provides excellent resources for assisting pastors considering their financial options for their retirement years that can enable them to continue serving after retiring without having to rely completely on local congregations for their personal financial support, and
WHEREAS there is a significant number of retired clergy who choose to remain available for serving in congregations and can continue serving in specific ways in local congregations, and
WHEREAS creating and implementing a comprehensive strategy on a synodical level for the use of the gifts of retired clergy able to serve the church after retirement could provide experienced pastoral leadership and benefit the ministries of local congregations, and
WHEREAS for several decades, in the U.S. and other countries, other Christian denominations have addressed similar concerns about providing pastoral leadership by creating numerous innovative models that train and use ordained and retired clergy and lay members to use their gifts in forming and serving as local shared ministry teams to support their Christian communities,
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT THE METROPOLITAN NEW YORK SYNOD OF THE ELCA direct the Synod Council to form a synodical team, led by a qualified pastor, deacon, or lay person and including a synod staff person to:

1. conduct a study of innovative ways our synod can assist clergy making personal decisions about retirement as well as already retired clergy, to consider their options  for continuing to serve the church after retirement, and

2. research and experiment with different models from around the world and other Christian denominations for creating, training, and using shared ministry teams that make use of the gifts of all God’s people, including lay members, rostered ministers, and retired clergy, on a salaried and a voluntary basis, to serve and support local congregations and conferences, and

3. oversee, foster, and assist in creating local and conference strategies for shared ministry, by providing training for clergy and local congregational leaders that will enable them to create and serve in shared ministry teams in their own local settings.  

Submitted by Rev. Dr. Richard O. Hill Pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, Selden, NY
The Committee for Reference and Counsel recommends adoption.