Thank you to all who celebrated Theological Education Sunday

September 18, 2017 by Lee Hinson-Hasty

Editor’s Note: Thanks to all who celebrated Theological Education Sunday, which was officially observed on Sunday, Sept. 17. If you missed it, you are welcome to observe this occasion on any Sunday that is appropriate for you and your congregation. You can find bulletin inserts, posters, suggested liturgy and social media posts for your use here.
The reflection below was prepared by Lee Hinson-Hasty for the Mission Yearbook

In 1996, the year after I graduated from seminary, presbyteries in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ordained 408 new ministers of Word and Sacrament. Many of them continue to serve and lead in the PC(USA) two decades later in critical ways.

In 2016, the PC(USA) ordained about half (47 percent) of the number we did in 1996, with only 214 ordained. While we have fewer congregations in 2016 than 1996, it is only 17 percent less, not 47 percent!

The need for qualified ministers of Word and Sacrament will increase as Baby Boomer generation pastors continue to retire over the next decade or so. The median age of a Presbyterian minister in 2017 is over 60 years old. The PC(USA) pastorate mirrors the demographics of about 20 mainline denominations in the U.S.

The call to action is clear. Now is the time to support future ministers by putting our gifts of money, mind and mentoring where God’s mission is: proclaiming the good news of the Gospel of God’s love, God’s grace and the call to discipleship including at the baptismal font, communion table and pulpit. There are lots of ideas about what the future of the church will look like. Ultimately, the answer is up to faithful followers of Christ today. How we respond to putting our money, mind and mentoring gifts to work now will decide what the next two to three decades of the church will be.

What can you do today to live into God’s mission of celebrating theological education and seminaries by supporting future ministers?

  • Mentor someone or help an organization that is mentoring those with gifts for ministry. Invite them to consider that call and help them start conversations with admissions officers at one or more Presbyterian seminaries.
  • Nurture a mind, including your own, theologically. Theological education deepens faith and leaders in seminary and beyond.
  • Give money to support investments in the future of the church. The Theological Education Fund supports Presbyterian ministers being prepared at Presbyterian seminaries.