Report: Older Clergy Bubble GrowsWritten by Karla Abernethy-Thetford Thursday, 06 September 2012 08:45
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Lewis Center for Church Leadership on Sept. 6 released its 2012 report on “Clergy Age Trends in The United Methodist Church.” The report, prepared with assistance from the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits, found that United Methodist elders ages 55 to 72 represent 53 percent of all active elders.
The preponderance of older clergy is a trend across all mainline denominations, the report also found. The Lewis Center is part of United Methodist-related Wesley Theological Seminary.
Highlights of the 2012 Report
Older Clergy Reach Historic High as Share of Elders
- Elders between ages 55 and 72 comprise 53 percent of all active elders, the highest percentage in history. This group reached 50 percent for the first time ever in 2010. This age cohort represented only 30 percent of active elders as recently as 2000. Previously their percentage of the total was even lower.
- This oldest cohort of active elders makes up 57 percent of elders in the Northeastern Jurisdiction and 56 percent in the Western Jurisdiction.
- In fourteen annual conferences, 60 percent or more of elders are age 55 or older.
- The median age of elders remains at 55 in 2012, the highest in history, reached first in 2010. The median age was 50 in 2000 and 45 in 1973.
The Percentage of Middle Age Elders Continues to Shrink
- The percentage of elders aged 35 to 54 continues to shrink, from 65 percent of all active elders in 2000 to 41 percent in 2012.
The Number of Young Clergy Stays about the Same
- There are more young elders, deacons, and local pastors than ten years ago, though the percentage of young clergy remains low compared to historical patterns, especially among elders.
- The percentages of young elders, deacons, and local pastors remained about the same in 2012 compared to 2011. However, only local pastors saw an increase in their numbers (18) while there were declines in the number of elders (21) and deacons (4).