What’s next? That’s a great question! It’s a big one for PACC and there are a number of ways to begin answering it.
Very soon, this congregation will have formed its Pastoral Search Committee. That’s what’s next. The Pastoral Search Committee will begin gathering information, objective and subjective, and it will craft that information into a church profile. That’s what’s next too. All of that will help PACC as the Spirit guides you to the answer to the question, “Who’s next”.
One of the wonderful things about an interim is that it provides both movement and continuity. This is the both/and I talk about. I like statistics, and as “what’s next” unfolds, here are some things that I find useful to remember and to think about.
If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you’re a Baby Boomer. So am I. We were born into a post-war world, one that for the U.S. was filled with a heightened sense of peace and prosperity.
Plenty of people, myself included, yearn for days that seemed much more innocent. Of course, they were also days of tremendous social change. They are an important part of the past – and the thing that causes distress for many Boomers is that they are past. Unbelievable as it seems, I’m writing this on Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday.
Just two months ago, in April, 2016, Boomers were overtaken by Millennials (born 1981-1997) as America’s largest living generation. There were just under 75 million Boomers living in 2015. By 2050, a date I fervently hope to see, there will be only 16.5 million. [Pew Research Center. April 26, 2016.]
The Pew Research study also reported that churches founded after 2000 increase membership by five (5) persons per year. Those churches formed before 2000 have declined by about 16 members annually. Eight in ten (80%) of U.C.C. congregations have fewer than 100 persons in worship weekly, and that’s good news, because that’s up about 1% over the year before!
Open and Affirming Congregations have larger membership, over 225 on average, and attract more new participation/members than do U.C.C. congregations that are not Open and Affirming.
So what could all of this mean for PACC?
Your next pastor probably will not be a Boomer. Statistically, that person will serve this congregation for about 8.5 years. About 53% of active UCC clergy are male, so it’s a bit more likely that your next pastor will be a man. Of course, the Spirit may guide you to a 55 year-old woman who will be with you until she retires at age 70!
In this Pentecost season, the Spirit is always moving, always inviting, and always doing something wonderful as part of “what’s next”. May it be so here in our midst!
The Reverend Jill H. Small