Pastor

Image via RNS/Emily McFarlan Miller

In January 2016, the Rev. Cynthia Meyer told her United Methodist Church congregation she felt “called by God to be open and honest” about who she is: “a woman who loves, and shares her life with, another woman.”

Image via RNS/Election Day Communion 2016

The idea for an Election Day church service came to the pastor as he was pouring juice into little plastic cups.

Mark Schloneger was preparing for Communion that day in 2008, in the kitchen of Waynesboro Mennonite Church in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The phone rang. It was a robocall from Sarah Palin, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee that year. She was imploring Christians to go to the polls, vote for her party, and take back the country.

Meghan Florian 06-01-2016

Image via REUTERS/Bruno Domingos/RNS

The Virginia Mennonite Conference suspended a pastor’s ministerial credentials May 25 because he officiated at a same-sex wedding.

The Rev. Isaac Villegas of the Chapel Hill (N.C.) Mennonite Fellowship and my pastor, is “at variance” with the conference, which belongs to the Mennonite Church USA. The denomination, with some 100,000 members, holds that marriage is “a covenant between one man and one woman for life.”

Timothy Morgan 05-11-2016
ABWE / RNS

Photo via ABWE / RNS

The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism has released a 280-page report revealing how its leaders failed to stop a leading missionary surgeon from sexually abusing 22 women and girls.

the Web Editors 02-01-2016

Your pastor doesn't have it all figured out. We promise.

They get scared. They get angry. They get lonely. And they doubt whether any of it's worth their time, or their faith.

Image via /Shutterstock.com

The White House has announced plans to add an evangelical-turned-Episcopal blogger, a Ferguson, Mo., activist, and a Methodist megachurch pastor to President Obama’s list of faith-based advisers.

Image via Katherine Davis-Young/RNS

Alongside programs like Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards, Netflix now offers users another type of content: Christian sermons. The online video streaming service added lectures by four popular Christian pastors in early December.

“I believe if Jesus were on planet Earth today in the flesh he’d be on Netflix,” said Ed Young, one of the pastors, in a phone interview.

Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pa. Image via Lutheran Theological Seminary/RNS

Two Lutheran seminaries in Pennsylvania are planning to close and launch together a new school of theology in 2017 with hopes of slashing costs and reversing years of declining enrollments. The decision came this week from the governing boards of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. The plan will cut the number of seminaries affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America from eight to seven.

Image via LifeWay Research/RNS

Sometimes a call from God is not enough to keep a pastor in his post.

Many evangelical pastors who quit before retirement age found “another calling” either off the pulpit or out of ministry altogether. But many also say they were driven away by conflict and burnout. So says a new survey of former pastors from four denominations.

09-04-2015

Gerald Harris. Image via Clark County Detention Center / RNS

A Sellersburg, Ind., pastor and fellow church workers are accused of beating multiple children in their care with a wooden paddle.

Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Jeremy Mull said the alleged abuse occurred at Crossroads Baptist Church, led by Pastor Gerald Harris. It operates a boarding academy complete with dormitories and classrooms for mostly out of state students, he said.

While parents, teachers and caretakers are allowed to discipline children “in a legal way,” Mull said, the bruising allegedly seen on the children constituted criminal abuse.

Laura Griffin 06-08-2015

Sacramental Moments

Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is no stranger to the pulpit — or politics. The former Fox News Channel host announced May 5 his bid for the GOP nomination for the White House. Here are five facts about this Southern Baptist’s perspectives on faith.

Bishop Yvette Flunder, pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ in Oakla

Bishop Yvette Flunder, pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ in Oakland, Calif. Image via RNS.

By her own count, Bishop Yvette Flunder has officiated at 149 funerals for victims of AIDS and HIV. Her office in Oakland, Calif., contains the ashes from some of those funerals after family members refused to claim them.

In recent weeks, she’s been celebrated and castigated for being an African-American bishop who’s legally married to another woman.

But when the time came for her to speak at a small Baptist college in this Bible Belt city, she chose to forgive the black clergymen who called her appearance a “travesty of the highest order.”

“I’m not using my energy for useless fights,” the third-generation preacher said at the end of a rousing sermon on March 17. 

“I’m using my energy to find peace. Let there be peace on earth.”

Lilly Fowler 11-03-2014

Pastor Renita Lamkin joins protesters in Ferguson. Photo by J.B. Forbes, courtesy of St. Louis Post-Dispatch/RNS.

The first time the public heard the name Renita Lamkin was probably the day she was shot.

In early August, four days after Michael Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson, Lamkin, a pastor, stood with Ferguson protesters, attempting to mediate. Police had warned the crowd to disperse and in an effort to buy a little time, Lamkin shouted, “They’re leaving!”

“That’s when I felt a pop in the stomach,” Lamkin said of the rubber pellet that hit her. The pellet left a ghastly wound — large, deep and purplish — and created a social media frenzy.

Tweet after tweet showed Lamkin, 44 and white, wearing a T-shirt with an image of a cross that she lifted up just slightly to show off the ugly bruise.

Lamkin said she didn’t really have a plan when she ventured out to Ferguson but that “the whole being shot thing was probably the best thing that could have happened.” The injury had cemented Lamkin’s role in the struggle for racial equality.

“They say, ‘You took a bullet for us.’ My sense is …We’re in this together, and I was playing my role,” Lamkin said.

Beau Underwood 07-30-2014
Overworked illustration, Honza Hruby / Shutterstock.com

Overworked illustration, Honza Hruby / Shutterstock.com

I eat, sleep, and breathe faith and politics; it is my passion and calling. From 9-5 each weekday, I direct communications and advocacy for Sojourners, moving around Washington, D.C. for various meetings, engaging with reporters and the media, and planning advocacy strategies around pressing justice issues. Then I turn off my computer and walk out the door. But instead of going home, I’m usually off to another meeting that has little to do with politics and everything to do with faith.

I’m a bi-vocational pastor, and I spend 15-20 additional hours working in a local congregation alongside several clergy colleagues, who themselves are a mix of full-time and part-time ministers. Serving in a church keeps me rooted. It provides perspective when the dysfunctions of Washington threaten to consume me. Helping people discover faith and integrate it into their lives renews and enlivens my soul.

Part of me pretends that I’d be spending this much time worshiping on Sunday morning and hanging out with my fellow young adults anyway, so I might as well be polishing my ministerial skills. But when I’m honest, I know it isn’t close to the same thing. I am way more invested in people’s lives – their joys and concerns – and the life of a particular community than I otherwise would be as “just a member of the congregation.” It is a demanding role that can be emotional, mentally and spiritually draining at times, but I love every minute of it. This is what I was made to do. Being a pastor is my identity. This calling is fundamental to who I am and how I understand myself in the world.

The number of bi-vocational ministers is increasing rapidly. Many pastors who work full-time jobs and serve in congregations part-time receive little or no pay for their church service. This trend has been described as “the future of the church” and extolled because the model is a return to “the original church” that will “enliven congregations.”

Tripp Hudgins 07-30-2014
Seminary sign, Vladislav Gurfinkel / Shutterstock.com

Seminary sign, Vladislav Gurfinkel / Shutterstock.com

Paul said, "the foolishness of the cross" not "the stable middle-class lifestyle," if you want my opinion on seminary education, the changing economy, and baptismal identity in general. We bear a responsibility to care for one another as Christians (and beyond) that we have abdicated to the persnickety "marketplace." It's time to talk about holy poverty again, I think.

I can hear my free church friends and colleagues now, "But we don't take a vow of poverty!" It's true. We don't. We remember this historical movement away from the monasteries and the cathedrals, the parish system and the state church. This is an issue of ecclesiology, no question. What I wonder, however, is if in our attempts to not fall into the traps of the past, we simply have settled on the marketplace as our model for ecclesiology. I assume we have.

My degree is a "professional degree," yet within its conceptual framework the notion that I am "professed" is easily lost. I am not called to earn, but to labor, to serve. My work is "worth" nothing. Instead, it is a response to a vocation that in many ways we all share. The wealth of the community affords me the opportunity to respond to that shared call in a particular way. I am not your employee. I am your pastor. I am poor. Any wealth I may posses comes directly from the pockets of others.

LeAnn Snow Flesher 07-28-2014
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Seminary at Mount Saint Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md., Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

The contemporary fast-paced, capitalistic, U.S. free market society has lost the traditional commitments to and comprehension of ‘church.’ Our parents and grandparents understood church as a community to which they belonged. Church was a place where many aspects of social life happened. The pastor was hired by the church people to care for and nurture the community, both individually and collectively. People looked to the pastor for spiritual inspiration, ethical guidance, sound counsel, and pastoral care. The pastor was an extended member of the family and people were happy to make a personal financial contribution to pay the pastor's salary and to keep the church building in repair. Somewhere along the line our society ‘outgrew’ this version of church.

A recent article in The Atlantic titled "Higher Calling, Lower Wages: The Vanishing of the Middle-Class Clergy" laments the shift away from the traditional model of financing church and clergy as well as the increased costs for training clergy. The average Master of Divinity student (the degree for pastoral training) graduates with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans — sometimes entering into the six-digit category. According to the U.S. department of labor, the median wage for a pastor is $43,800 — not a salary that lends itself to paying off high-end loans.

Image via Wiki Commons

Pastor Bob Coy resigned Sunday from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Image via Wiki Commons

Florida megachurch pastor Bob Coy has resigned from his 20,000-member Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale congregation over a “moral failing.”

A statement on the church’s website reported the news: "On April 3, 2014, Bob Coy resigned as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985."

A call to Coy on Sunday was not returned. But it appears extra-marital affairs may have been one reason.

RNS photo courtesy of Toby Crabtree/Saddleback Church

Dr. Oz measures pastor Rick Warren’s waistline at a “Daniel Plan” forum. RNS photo courtesy of Toby Crabtree/Saddleback Church

A California pastor made headlines this month when he announced that he will live like an atheist for a year to see what it’s like on the other side of belief. But Ryan Bell is actually just the latest “stunt pastor” to use unorthodox means to draw attention to his message.

In recent years, other church leaders have challenged congregants to have sex (with their spouse) for 30 days straight or have dressed like homeless people or lived in a tiny box or on a spacious roof in order to gin up attention, attendance, or funds.

This kind of reality-show piety has a history, of sorts, especially in Christianity: A fifth-century ascetic, Simeon Stylites, achieved great fame by living — subsisting, really – atop a pillar for some 37 years.

But the rise of the entertainment industry, combined with a focus on marketing techniques to preach the faith or build up a church, have sparked a penchant for ministry gimmicks that go well beyond the old dunk tank.

Angela Kissel 12-09-2013

Photo illustration by Ken Davis

Her pastor told her it was 'against scripture' for females to preach.

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