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Black Clergy Wanted But Hard to Find in Mainline Denominations

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Clint Cooper, Chattanooga Times Free Press, February 9, 2008

The School of Theology at the University of the South will celebrate the life and ministry of the Episcopal denomination’s first ordained black priest next week.

But more than 250 years after the Rev. Absolom Jones’s birth, the denomination is one of several mainline churches in the South that continue to have trouble recruiting black clergy.



“Sunday at 11 o’clock is still the most segregated hour in America,” said Stephen N. Benz, executive presbyter for the Presbyterian Church USA’s Presbytery of East Tennessee.

Outside the South, more black clergy serve in PCUSA churches, but in the South the churches are “very weak” and the clergy “recruitment pool is smaller” since the majority of black churches are Pentecostal, Baptist or independent, he said.


The denomination only began serious recruiting efforts for clergy of all races in the past 10 years, Mr. Benz said.

Mr. Askew said the Episcopal Church offers minority scholarships and grants for all ethnic groups, but various circumstances prevent more black clergy — especially in the South — from offering themselves for service.


The Rt. Rev. Arthur B. Williams Jr., assisting bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio and the preacher for the School of Theology service honoring the first black priest, said recruitment of blacks is “no doubt a high priority” for the church.

Ironically, he said, the civil rights movement, which allowed blacks to be considered for leadership positions across the employment spectrum, may have cut into the number willing to consider the clergy.

In addition, Bishop Williams said, the size and influence of many black churches within the denomination have decreased.

They are “not (the) places where young men and women are encouraged to move into ordained ministry as they were years ago,” he said.


Original article

(Posted on February 19, 2008)

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I thought blacks couldn’t find jobs.

Here is a highly respectable profession that can’t get people to join.

Posted by Dennis at 5:30 PM on February 19

To be a minister in a Black Church only requires a man to be
charismatic and have good oratorical skills. You don’t need years of expensive schooling to get a black church. The pay for a black minister is much better than what would make as an Episcopal minister also. As the head of a black evengelical church the sky is the limit on what the income to be derived from this enterprise.

Posted by Tim at 5:51 PM on February 19

They should try affirmative action or quotas.

Posted by at 5:58 PM on February 19

Oh yep….those blacks can lead alrighty….they can’t even lead a parade…when is anyone gonna get that??? And then to top it all off…they want obama to lead the nation, isn’t it bad enough that G W was in the whitehouse almost 8 yrs now and our nation tumbled almost to the abyss…if that idiot is elected….we go to the very bottom and there is no coming out of it!

Posted by lydia at 6:53 PM on February 19

American Blacks will never become Episcopalians in droves, so why bother?

The Episcopal service is too liturgical and high-church oriented for blacks to understand. It goes all of the way back to Catholicism in Europe. The Episcopal church has a rich history in England. Blacks dont understand this.

Blacks like to clap and shout and roll on the floor. This goes back to their tribal orientations in Africa. Even blacks who become Roman Catholics fail to hold true to church doctrine and, instead, end up perverting it by mixing it with voodoo as they’ve done in Haiti, Brazil and in Africa itself.

If the church was truly interested in converting anyone, why doesn’t it look toward Hispanics who may have dwindled from Catholicism?

Posted by at 7:43 PM on February 19

I remember the outrage summoned by little old Lithuanian ladies when the Archdiocese tried to foist a black priest off on them — historic register church, always had a Lithuanian-speaking priest, center of the Lithuanian community, etc.

Those little old ladies were successful and got a priest more atuned to their “cultural” desires (mass in Lithuanian, etc.) They were, however, little and old. They are now little and dead, for the most part.

Just another way of sowing fragmentation and disunity…

Posted by at 9:00 PM on February 19

first, the episcopals push a homosexual agenda on a congregation that doesn’t want it. and now they push a racial agenda on a congregation that doesn’t want it. apparently, african americans don’t want it, either. i can’t say that i blame them. who wants to go to a church full of perverts?

Posted by fred at 9:03 PM on February 19

Why are black clergy wanted, exactly?

Posted by at 9:37 PM on February 19

You never will see the two follow up articles:

1.Black Clery Surge in Denominations- Requirements Made Eaiser- More Qualify Under Relaxed Requirements- All in the Name of Diversity

2. Denominations Suffer White Flight

Posted by lol at 10:09 PM on February 19

The Episcopal Church evolving into a spineless, feel-good social services project at the expense of delivering the word of God doesnt help matters much either.

Churches used to bring the law and the gospel to the masses. Now that the liberal leaders have watered both down to a degree that many congregants have no concept of what their church stands for, is it any surprise that being part of the clergy of such is not appealing?

Posted by at 10:36 PM on February 19

You never hear the leadership of black churches saying that recruitment of white preachers is a high priority. The truth is that most white people don’t think that the best way to communicate with God is to whoop it up. Given the stark differences in style, it’s probably best for all concerned that the churches are largely segregated by race.

Posted by WR the elder at 10:43 PM on February 19

As a rule, mainstream protestant clergy, in my experience, are intelligent, capable, educated, with middle class values in their personal lives. I know of only two exceptions in my town, both obvious affirmative action hires. One allowed his family to turn the lovely parsonage into a typical slum house, littered, unkempt, and too loud for the neighbors. The other accepted, and kept, a large gift of money from an old parishioner, instead of turning in over to the church. This is not a scientific survey, but I’m sure the churches’ governing bodies know the risks they take when they put Blacks in charge. White Christians with money to support their church will recognize ineptitude when the preacher starts monkeying around, and will switch congregations, if not denominations. The bishops may hold black sabbaths in private for all I know, but they can’t afford to lose too many generous, upper middle class members by filling the pulpits with Blacks.

Posted by Schoolteacher at 11:51 PM on February 19

Mainline Protestant denominations are eaten up with liberalism and are consequently dying-soon the only members left will be vegetarians and college professors! The liberal instincts of the leaders of these denominations causes them to feverishly seek out black clergy candidates, but what person, black, white or whatever, would want to devote their life to serving in a dying, apostate denomination? Those who do answer the call are usually would-be social revolutionaries whose true religion is liberalism, not Christianity. Tim, the first poster here, is also partially right. In the days of segregation, blacks generally were foreclosed from professions like law or medicine, but clergymen and mortician positions were allowed and became traditional vocations for ambitious young black men. Because ambitious men were foreclosed from other professions, many got into these vocations who were called more by the desire for wealth than the desire to serve, ergo all of the scandals associated with both black churches and black funeral parlors. Being a preacher, unfortunately, was to some a way to start a business in which the only inventory you needed was hot air.

Posted by Ramar of the Jungle at 1:28 AM on February 20

I’m shocked!!! with the role models they have blacks should be in long lines waiting for these positions, I’ve been told about the benefits black ministers are routinely given, wasn’t it Memphis Tenn. wher the black miniter was running a string of prostitutes outta the church.

Posted by abc at 5:31 AM on February 20

It doesn’t take much to become a preacher. Look at those two famous “reverends”. Jesse and Al.

Posted by at 7:20 AM on February 20

Blacks are missing a good bet here. As “Martin Luther” King demonstrated, all a black person needs are GRE scores in the bottom quartile and access to a xerox machine at a graduate school, and presto, instant clergyman. Easy money, dog.

Posted by Cassiodorus at 9:05 AM on February 20

The Nation of Islam doesn’t seem to have a problem filling it’s ranks with haters. Reaching out as a Catholic Priest to the sick and poor in peace and love takes civilized courage.

Tribal hatred is easy.

Posted by WhiteBread at 2:02 PM on February 20

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