What can be to young ministers as incentives to join the AME Church

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Greetings to all:

I am just writing to celebrate the 200th anniversary of full recognition of the AME Church by the Methodist Episcopal Church on April 6, 1801. This was a tremendous act then and is still a tremendous one. All of Methodism is suffering beloved. We are seemingly becoming a lost cause because we have not followed the example of Christ in some areas. I cannot fully say what can be done to turn around the Methodist/Wesleyan Church, but I do know it needs to be turned around. My question is simple. I am 27 years old and both my wife who is 23 are ordained ministers in the AME church. We both were raised in other denominations: I was ordained Baptist and my wife was raised in the Church of God in Christ. Before we married, we felt led to join the AME church and since we have been able to carry out a ministry that I know we could not have anywhere else.

I realize that other fellowships offer some exciting incentives for young ministers. I want to know what can be done to recruit or draw young ministers into our Great Zion. I know of several who wish to become a part of this Zion but they feel that it would be a lost cause because there appears to be little or no progression at all across our connection. Please respond with some suggestions. God bless you.

-- Anonymous, April 08, 2002


Rev. Neal the incentive to become a pastor is "Jesus Christ" and the call that God has bestowed on those he has called by name to ordained ministry. Without those two crucial ingredients ministry will only be filled with frustration. When I was a United Methodist minister, one had to sit with a pastor and the board of ordained ministry to discuss one's call. One of the questions that was posed was "Have others seen your call?" Have other's suggested that you should be a minister. There are several steps to being called to ordained ministry. It usually begins with others recognizing your call first. Then you deny it and ask God to choose someone else (remember Jeremiah) and finally you accept your call. I received my call when I was 30 and my pastor and the congregation saw it way before I did. I tried to negotiate my way out of it, by saying to God "there's no money in ministry, I am a single mom, I can't afford to go to college and seminary etc. When I sat still with him and told him why I couldn't do it. He told me he would provide for all of my needs and my family. When one is truly called there is a burning desire to get up every day and serve the master, all of your thoughts are about doing his ministry, and yes there times when you get weary but he always carries us. My daughter went to private school her tuition paid in full. He put food on our table paid for my college and seminary education. My daughter graduated from college that was 32,000 dollars a year. When God calls us, he call our families also and he provides for us. I look at my 25 year old daughter the co-founder of our church at 23. She came back home to start this church with me, she tithes 50 percent of her salary back to the church. She is willing to relocate to help start an A.M.E church in a town 500 miles away in Montana. She asked our Bishop where she should do her graduate work and he told her my alma mata. Now the funny thing is when people tell her she should be a minister, she says "Oh, No! not me" but she spends her time doing ministry. I will try not to laugh when she realizes she called to ordained ministry. One last thing she has been counseling a friend who is an ex mormon, who was turned off to God. Her friend had a disappointment in her life recently, my daughter helped her realize that God was protecting her. My daughter got a call yesterday from her friend saying "thank you for helping me see God's hand" she also invited my daughter to go on a vacation with her in May to Japan,all expenses paid. Rev. Neal if young or old people are asking about "incentives" to become ordained ministers, sit with them and help process their call. If they follow Christ, he will take care them abundantly, if they follow the perks, they will be without him and the perks will disappear. Thanks for asking the question, in many seminaries there are exploratory sessions where young people can talk to older pastors and professors about their call. God bless!

-- Anonymous, April 08, 2002

Simply put, the AME church "attract" AND RETAIN young ministers to the AME church when the denomination begins to put it's money where it's mouth is. There is a desire to have seminary-trained clergy, like the United Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, etc. But, what seperates the AME denomination from these other denominations is that the other denominations take full responsibility, on a connectional level, for the salary/pensions of their pastors. These denominations do not expect pastors to pastor for free (not even student pastors). At the very least, in extremely rural areas, pastors are guaranteed a salary and given 2-3 point charges. However, they are not expected to invest their own personal monies in the denomination and accept below-poverty level salaries. These denominations also do not LEAD from the top down, and then make the paying of salaries/pension benefits the total responsibility of the local church. These pastors are GUARANTEED and receive salaries from the connectional church, at LEAST until the local church is capable of paying a professional salary. You do not pastor in these other denominations for free. I am sorry but a seminary degree costs in excess of $20,000 and up. The AME church wants PROFESSIONAL ministers--well, the AME church is going to have to take MORE responsibility in compensating them. Period. If the church does not, then these young, trained clergy will be more and more attracted to the denominations that are taking responsibility for their clergy. I do not mean to appear to be unpleasant, but you cannot spiritualize nor can you glamorize poverty. God bless you all.

-- Anonymous, April 08, 2002

When I went to seminary I was United Methodist, I had to pay my own way through seminary, (I worked hard and got scholarships)as did my other friends from other protestant denominations. My first year I received $400.00 for books, and that was it. I graduated from Princeton Seminary, these type of discussions are important to have. If a person is interested in making lots of money then ministry is not the profession for them. The latest stats by the Pew Foundaiton are showing that 70 percent of churches in america have congregations of less than 200 members. And today it is rare for a pastor in an urban setting to have a 2 or 3 point charge. The grass is not greener in other denominations, particularly if you are African-American, it is still hard to be appointed or called to a predominantly white denomination. When one is talking about ministry it has to be a spiritual discussion for God's hand is in it. I think one of the things that might be helpful is for our young people to have a mentor that they can work with. The reality in the A.M.E church is that in order to get Elder's order you must have a seminary degree. Rev. Neal when I came to montana as a united methodist campus minister ten years ago. My total package was $45,000 that included salary, housing, health insurance, pension, car allowance and continuing education. That was with a seminary degree and a degree in social work. Do I make that much now in the A.M.E church? no. I work a full time job, and I have planted a church. I have a private pension. Am I happy being A.M.E YES!!!!! I do believe God calls to be in the denomination where he needs us. For this is exciting ministry and I am doing what I love!!!!. To the young people do not be discouraged, we need you!!! And want you to trust that God will provide for you. Seminary is not a punishment and you will get through like other minister's have. Lastly in the mission statement of our denomination it talks about economic development that also applies to pastor. God does not want us living in poverty. P.S all the major denominations are having trouble attracting young people, those going into ministry now are second career people.

-- Anonymous, April 08, 2002

Rev. Rogers, I totally agree with what you are saying, and you are ABSOLUTELY right. Many people that are entering ministry are JUST like you: they are working full-time, private pension funded "secular" jobs and they are normally entering "ministry" as a second career. As a matter of fact, people like you are much more attractive to the AME pastorate, then young, recently seminary trained elders. Someone who has worked 20-30 years and developed a life savings and has acquired a pension is extremely attractive to the AME pastorate. As a matter of fact, that is one of the primary ways that they will survive the financial rigors of this denomination. That is a reality that many of us have accepted. Well, what about those young people who desire to enter ministry FULL time as a first career, so to speak. You stated that "...If a person is interested in making lots of money then ministry is not the profession for them..." No one is entering the pastorate trying to make a lot of money. The $45,000 package you were offerred is not a LOT of money. That is called a professional package, not a lot of money. And, unfortunately, most of the people that are entering the pastorate in this denomination, young and old, are not being offerred 1/4 of that salary. I am a firm believer of ministry. I am an even FIRMER believer of ministry as the FIRST, full-time career. I am a firm believer of seminary. I attended seminary back in the '70s before attending seminary was the "flavor of the month". However, I believe that a workman is worthy of his hire. I am fully aware that the other denominations are having problems, I am also aware that the other majority-white denominations are facing institutional racism and that the grass certainly isn't greener on the other side. But, I think we need to admit what one of our major problems as a denomination is: we are not taking responsibility to PAY our pastors and that is one of the reasons why they are being attracted to other denominations, whether the grass is greener or not.

-- Anonymous, April 08, 2002

I thank God for the Internet and for the AME Today Discussion Board. For some of us, English is not the mother tongue and we may hear and there have misunderstandings, but generally this forum is an eye- opener! In Africa we probably have a very wrong perception of the AME Church, and that's probably due to the high overty and illiteracy rates. All along, our only point of meeting are the connectional meetings usually hosted at hotels of international repute, and with all the money exchanging hands at these meetings the impression is made that we are an affluent organization. Look at the way we run campaigns for the bishopric! and the money that is involved! Very alarming, very frightening for those coming from very rural settings! Our fiscal policies and denominational structures in the AME Church needs an overall review. May interpretation is that the church survives to ensure bishops enjoy a good life! I may be wrong! General Officers complain about the lack of money in their departments and everyone else complains about the lack of money in their constituencies. But the bishops are guaranteed salaraies and other fringe benefits some of us can;t never dream about.

I am a proud child of the AME parsonage, and I am very proud to be an AME and an AME pastor for that matter. My paternal grandfather (Rev. Dr. Willem Moses Jod) was a school inspector and when he had died (6 years after retirement) he died a financially poor man. He had spent almost every dime and dollar he earned in a secular job on the AME Church! Here I am as a third generation AME preacher, working fulltime as Public Relations Manager of the National Theatre of Namibia, and I use close to 60% of my monthly earnings on the AME Church to survive in my constituencies. And I am not the only one - almost everybody who has a job does the same thing in Namibia. But have a brother who pastors fulltime, devoting all his time, energies, etc. in a remote village and God alone knows how he survives. I amvery ashame to tell that many a fulltime AME pastor in our conference is destitude, and I do not refer to the absence / lack of luxury from the dining table. AME pastors who are way below the bread line, and when we line up for the Procession at the Annual Conference, the differences in robes (just to mention one area ) makes one wonder whether these ministers really belong to the same denomination. What incentives do we talk about here????? Whilst this is the situation in the AME Church, our neighbours in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Congregational, Methodist, etc are supplied with the basic necessities by their denominational headquarters. Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or to cry about our situation. My only incentives are that I love the Lord, respect my call and has inherited membership of the AME Church! Our denominational way of doing church, as we say in Africa, can be changed for the better, but many of us are too sentimental about this church and cling too much to history! First of all, let's do away with centralised connectional salaries for bishops and General Officers, and I won't be surprised hot the number of candidates will drop. Secondly, let bishops negotiate salary and fringe benefits with the district he/she has been assigned to, just like pastors do with the churches they have been assigned to. Thirdly, let the General and Connectional ooficers negotiate salaries with the constituencies electing them. 4thly, let us continue our current contributions to tge General budget Fund, and reallocate higher amounts to programs and projects that will make an impact on local levels where the action is needed. Finally, let us revisit the way we draw budgets: we know how to raise monies for meetings but it is a different ball game to raise money with thesame enthusiasmm for programs and projects. Pardon if I have deviated too much from the question. God bless

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2002

Dear Rev. Hanse:

Thank you so much for your FRANK and REAL insight. I am saddened to know that on the continent of Africa you pastors are experiencing many of the same REALITIES as those of us in the U.S.A. I thought a lot of what I expressed and Rev. Alexander expressed was a figment of my imagination. I am saddened to find out, from your own posting, that it is not. Thank you for sharing the truth. Maybe it will be a help to the next generation of pastors that are coming through the ranks. We, as AME's, have a lot of work to do. God bless you all!

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2002

Rev. Alexander thank you for the dialogue about young pastors, as I was reading your post I thought to myself, there has got to be a way, we need young ministers! It seems that one of the first hurdles is going to be paying for seminary education and the second is a salary. I am new to our denominstion, would it be possible to set up an economic development fund for scholarships for seminary as a starter? That same fund could also help our clergy on the continent of Africa/ The Negro college fund started out small and grew. Let's become an online think tank and see what we can come up with? By the way Rev. Alexaneder you would be a wonderful mentor!!

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2002

I must say that you all have expressed what I have been thinking. However I do not wish it to be thought as financial and educational assistance alone. I have been in the ministry for 16 years now first as a Baptist(both Southern and NBC,USA). While with the Southern Baptist Convention, there were the opportunities to attend their church-sponsored seminaries, plant Black SBC churches that I would pastor, and receive significant financial incentives. I left that denomination because of the liberation and support my wife and I receive in the AME Church. I said all of that to state that money or education will never be enough especially in the economic situation of our Zion. My point was that other denominations seem to be more attractive because they give the appearance of being more progressive. I am speaking of the more charismatic, interdenominational fellowships. That's what I believe many of the younger ministers are attracted to. I know because I too was almost seduced into their grasps. I am in graduate school right now and I am attending an AME Church- sponsored seminary in Little Rock, AR. I am one of the few young ministers who is actually trying to stay in the church despite what some may call "greener grass" outside the Zion. I realize that even after completing seminary(I plan to earn my doctorate in 4 yrs), I will still only serve the church because I love God, his calling and this Zion. I am somewhat convinced that I will never pastor a 2-3 point church in this district (the12th) until I am in my late 30's. I could be mistaken but for now, I am a bi-vocational minister who loves the Lord and my church.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2002

I was attracted to the AMEC through its' rich history. I became very involved as a young adult in my local church, district and conference levels. Was ordained elder and served as Senior Pastor for 12 yrs. I praise God for the opportunity to serve. Yes, Richard Allen was about a good work for the Lord, but I must be honest and say, that the AMEC has moved away from the vision of Allen. It appears that many worship Allen more than God. I recently withdrew from the AMEC as a pastor. In December, I was suffering from depression and burn out. My sister and mother had surgery weeks apart, attending seminary, pastor full-time, etc. During this time, I received no financial support from the AMEC, neither did I receive support from my Presiding Elder. During my time of recovering, I realized something. If I had been a male, would the treatment been different? Many women are being discriminated in the AMEC. The AMEC offers no pastoral counseling and support services to clergy and their families, no connectional support for the clergy, everything is depended upon the local church. The local church should contributed to the package, in my case, if I had not put together a package, key person insurance, workman's compensation, annuity, etc. I would have had nothing at all!. The connection sends persons out under its banner, but does very little to provide support. Very little educational support. I requested a leave of absence due to health and personal family issues, never heard a response from the Elder or Bishop if it was granted, so after several weeks of hearing nothing, through prayer, God directed me to lauch in the deep! We did on the 3rd Sunday in Jan. 2002, we held services in a members home, 3rd Sun in Feb. we had acquired a lease on a suite in a downtown location in Delaware, with approximately 20 tithing members and children, we have done extremely well, thanks to God. We confirmed 34 members on Palm Sunday and we are having discussions with the property owner to purchase the entire commerical building! We will be opening up our Bookstore/Cafe in a few weeks, setting up our Community Development Corporation. I praise God for allowing me the chance to witness the Martin Luther King dream, freedom. Free at last, I thank God almighty, I am free at last. We are not nontraditional, multicultural, ecumenical "A Church for All People." God said for us to step and be brand new in 2002, we and God is blessing us so. There are some serious issues taking place in the AMEC and all denomination. God is calling is church to be restored back to Him. The church belongs to God, not to individuals with certain perceived rank. My prayer is that AMEC and all others repent and turn from their wicked ways and hear from heaven.... I hold no remorse in my heart, but I am not going to allow anyone to abuse me and expect for me to stay in an abusive situation. My prayer is for each of you as you continue to minister to God's people. My husband and I are free and there is nothing like freedom. I will not give my freedom away, I was born to free. Jesus came to set us all free. There is too much politics taking place in God's house. Politics are everywhere, but they have an unusal place in the AMEZ. God has directed my husband and I to estalish a work for Christ. My joy has been restored and my hope increased even the more. AMEC please wake up from your sleep, it is now time to work for the Lord, with a clean heart and a right mind. It is time to get in pace with the 21st century. We are still so far behind. Church must be operated as a business doing spiritual work. We must be creative and innovative in everything. May God continue to bless the AMEC and each of its members. Pour out a supernatural blessing and stir them back on course. AMEN Pastor Linda Wheatley, Senior Pastor "God's Family Life Worship Center; TrueVine Bookstore and Living Waters Cafe.

WE are seeking your prayers for housing for Ford and Family and for Pastor Anthony and Pastor Linda to reside in the community. Lord, I thank you with my whole heart, soul and mind. Pastor's my heart aches for you, but for what I experienced in Dec/Jan, there was much concerned regarding my state of mind.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2002

I have read every reply that was given and each statement is true. I feel asham on what we as African Americans are doing to our African Brothers and Sisters.

Yes, I agree that politics, greed and money hungry...everyone are only thinking of thereself and what $ they can receive. We need to change the policy for I know that Richard Allen is throwing up in his grave to see all the thievery that is going on.

Praise God From Whom All Blessing Flow.

Sis. Margaret A. Riley, Mighty 5th District

-- Anonymous, April 11, 2002

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