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Lacking funds, not faith, churches turning to unpaid clergy

Published September 18, 2013 6:18 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Among mainline Protestant clergy, there is a growing trend: not getting paid.

As these churches "face declining numbers and look to new ministry models to make ends meet," G. Jeffrey MacDonald of Religion News Service reports, "more mainliners [are] cutting back to halftime or one-quarter-time packages for clergy, who increasingly work second jobs."

Some denominations now "expect more church leaders in years ahead to earn their livings in secular jobs," MacDonald writes. "The Presbyterian Church (USA), for instance, encourages new seminarians to plan for nonchurch employment so they can serve fledgling congregations that can't afford a full-time salary plus benefits."

Unpaid ministry "is the future of the church," Lori Modesitt, ministry developer for Wyoming's Episcopal diocese, where a third of the priests are unpaid, told MacDonald. "What we're talking about is going back to the original church, where people took an active part and used their God-given gifts for the betterment of the community."

The Utah-based LDS faith, which teaches that it is the restoration of Christ's original church, operates on the local level with a lay clergy.