Manditory Retirement : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Will there be any significant change within the pulpit as a result of the manditory retirement for ministers? There are numerous persons anxiously waiting for 2004 to roll around.

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2001


If my memory serves me correctly, I believe there is a clause in the 2000 A.M.E. Discipline that states if clergy are of retirement age, they are to retire (and I am strictly paraphrasing this) if they are "unable" to serve. Doesn't the discipline give these ministers some leeway-- if they are able to serve and the Bishop feels they are able to serve, then they can continue to serve. I also believe that clause applies to Presiding Elders as well. I also thought I noticed a line in the Discipline that states that clergy do not have to retire if the mass retirements are going to greatly impact the district, i.e. if you only have 40 elders and 31 of them retire and your district does not have replacements, then these ministers do not have to retire. I said all that to say that if these clauses are actually in place, then 2004 is going to be quite problematic for those people who are waiting for the 72+ crowd to enter the realms of AARP (SMILE). God bless you all!

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2001

Thanks for your response. However if you look around the connectional church, many of our pulpits and districts consists of persons ready to retire. Additionally, there are some conferences in which the average age of the ministry is between 64-67 years of age. Congregations are not able to flourish when we perpetuate "the business as usual syndrome." Yes it is at the discretion of the conference and of the presiding Bishop; however, it is often ignored when one should retire. I have heard numerous ministers say " I want to die in the saddle with my boots on." That's fine. To this extent, you may be in the saddle, but the horse is dead. I applaud teh efforts of some of our Bishops who are giving new life and hope to those persons entering the pastorate. There are already some itinerant elders who have graduated from seminary waiting in the wings. I think there will be room for their gifts and talents to fill the void of retirement. I am excited at the prospect of 2004.

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2001

Maybe it is because I have just filed for Soc. Sec that I am sensitive to issues like this. In the secular world ageism is rampant. "Older employees" are shifted out in mergers and downsizing to a upsetting degree. My old company terminated helath insurance of retirees yet paying big bonuses to executives. Now, I see an attitude in the church where the older Pastors are being lumped together and folks wanting to purge them to make room for younger Elders.

My Pastor falls into the category that RAllen seems to have a problem with. He is still active, commited, and considered as Pastor's Pastor not only in the Connection but with ministers outside the Connection. The church in still growing and God continues to use him in many powerful ways. Including those on the way to ordination and on staff, he has over 100 sons and daughters in the ministry, scattered around the country and indeed the world. He places Salvation of people over raw membership numbers and the members are of the same focus. We are a vibrant church.

Perhaps RAllen did not mean to be painting a wide brush in his talk of cleaning house of the older, most mature Pastors. I am sure there are some that should consider retirement based on performance but to make the retirement mandatory just for the sake of opening up charges is not only unfair but also unwarranted. If the performance is poor, Presiding Elders need to act, regardless of the pastor's age. Just because an Elder has graduated from seminary does not make him a top dog. Excellent pastors have a way of being noticed, their time will come. It is not good to promote ministers too fast. Not good for them and not good for the church. I have used my Pastor as an example but I am sure there are many others doing as well and maybe better, in spite of chronilogical age. Why remove good and faithful servants? God has a way of telling them to step into retirement.

-- Anonymous, December 24, 2001

I have often heard that persons require "seasoning" before being placed in particular pulpits. Unfortunately I have witnessed and pastored within districts where many pastors were of retirement age. My point is not to put persons out to pasture too soon. It is sad to witness a colleague ignore the call for retirement. When the time arrives, walk away with dignity. Brother Bob your church may be the exception; however, there are many frustrated but patient persons (both clergy and lay) who see the other side. It ain't pretty!

-- Anonymous, December 24, 2001

It seems we have lost sight of the purpose of the church. The congregation is the most important part, not the pastor. To have a healthy church, you must have a vibrant and healthy clergy. An aging clergy will invariably produce a dying church. True, there are ministers who can be effective even into their eighties, but this is the exception rather than the rule. I would like to see the retirement age set at 65, which by the way would force me to retire since I will be 68 tomorrow. This would allow room for upward mobility and we would eventually have a clergy whose average age would be in the late thirties/early forties which would be the most productive years. Those ministers who want to remain active in ministry after 65 could be used to start new congregations. These new congregations would be turned over to young pastors as soon as possible and the seasoned veterans could move on and plant still more churches. Most of the pastors in Texas do not want to retire because they need the money to live.


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, December 24, 2001

I've observed throughout these threads people worried about the lack of young adults in their congregations, the long-serving leaders who stay in position decade after decade thus making younger members feel left out, young people leaving for other churches, "decon possesed" churches, leaders in it only for the paycheck, perceived corruption... Churches displaying these qualities are dying. Unless something changes that church will not be there in 20 years.

My parents often said that one sign of a healthy church is a large collection of parents with their children. This is because parents have a concern for the spiritual well being of their kids that overrides concern for anyone else, including themselves. Whatever else a church offers, they want ministries that will lead their children to Jesus from nursery to college/career age. Question: Have any of your church's kids, upon reaching the age where their parents allow them to make their own choices, left for another church? What did that other church offer? You'd better start offering it too.

SOME Christian adults are also mature enough to realize their responsibility to engage in ministry of some type, most likely in a local church. They'll look for a place where they have a chance to do what God has called them to do. If they're simply told to drop their check in the plate and keep quiet, they'll move on.

Third and most important, people are looking for a place where they can meet God and experience all He has for them. Traditions and denominational loyalties will fall away very quickly if people see one church experiencing this, and their present one not.

The fact is, with all older people have to offer in experience and maturity, they cannot maintain a healthy church over the long term without a significant number of younger adults. Time simply isn't on their side. This does not in any way mean that their time is past, or there is no longer a place for them. They can be some of God's mightiest warriors, and I'd certainly want a large number of that type of senior on any team I'm on. This includes in leadership. But when people get into a comfortable rut that makes no room for young adults, their children, new families, and oh yeah the new pastor with the new ideas, as is said in Revelation, their lampstand will be removed unless they repent.

As for mandatory retirement, the question should not focus on age, but does that leader still have the fire, the hunger, and the vision? If so, you'll see his/her ministry constantly evolving. Music, style, schedule, programs, the church is a living and growing entity. Are your pastor and board living, growing entities? If so, you'll also see numerous younger families with children actively engaged in cutting edge ministries. They and their children will keep that church moving onward and upward for a long time.

-- Anonymous, December 25, 2001

I believe there should be more of a balance between retiring older pastors and bringing in new pastors to the fold. Unfortunately, there is very little balance between the two. One of the issues is that many, many people are entering the ministry upon retirement from their careers, so the average "new" minister in some districts is age 55-60. So, how can you begin discussing retirement options with people who have begun their ministerial career at retirement age? Also, another problem is a lack of mentoring. Many of the long-standing pastors who began pastoring in their 20s and 30s and who continue to pastor well into their 70s and 80s often do not act as mentors for the younger ministers because some of them are intimidated and afraid that the younger ministers are going to take over or be "liked" by the congregants. So basically you have pulpits filled with ministers who are not really learning the dos and don'ts of pastoring. Reciting the Call to Worship week after week and preaching from time to time really isn't teaching you some of the nuts and bolts of pastoring. I am somewhat in agreement with the idea that you shouldn't send young ministers out too soon, but if pastors do not really learn what they need to learn in the early stages of their pastoral careers, then they will never be prepared when they get sent out to what some describe a "seasoned" pulpit. What would possibly help is that when a pastor does decide to retire (in their 70s and 80s), the replacement should come on board approximately six months to a year prior to the retirement so that they can learn the people, etc. Unfortunately this does not happen. Many appointments are made at the last minute; some seem to be made based on favoritism, who you know, etc., so little time is made for advanced planning. God bless.

-- Anonymous, December 26, 2001

Rev. Paris,

I want to reply to your comment, but I will do so when I see you in person. Will not be at Founder's Day unfortunately, will be in Las Vegas with my job, but I really need to express some thoughts to you on your comment. Feel free to email for you know me, I will answer. But some things are better said in person. Peace and Love

-- Anonymous, December 28, 2001

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