Say It Isn’t So, Betsy: Since When Has Religious Freedom Come to Mean the Freedom to Proselytize in Public Schools, and to Discriminate on Religious Grounds Against People We Don’t Like?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught his disciples about religious practices such as charity and prayer. In contrast with the vulgar display of false piety of the Pharisees and religious teachers of his day, Jesus admonished his followers to practice their religion privately: So when you give to the needy, do not announce…

The Last Pastor

After being the last pastor in a congregation, Reverend Gail Cafferata, wondered “how other pastors and congregations who experienced the closing of a church felt and, particularly, how it affected pastors who, like me, had accepted their call with starry-eyed hopes for renewal.”  Her wondering led Cafferata, an Episcopal priest and sociologist to study, research…

The Abundance of Retired Clergy

Over the past century, American life expectancy has increased by nearly 50% (as seen here). We in the U.S. now have multiple generations facing significantly longer lifespans than their parents and grandparents. The fastest-growing population here is, in fact, people over 85 years old. This has literally never happened before in human history, and we,…

Atomic Bombs, Caesar’s Wife, and a Cautionary Lesson about Seduction, Forgiveness, and Grace for Church Leaders

I just finished reading Kai Bird’s and Martin J. Sherwin’s magisterial American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (New York: Vintage, 2005), and Ray Monk’s equally impressive Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center (New York: Anchor, 2012). Admittedly, these are unlikely readings for a UCC minister who is opposed to American…

The Church Confronts “Okay, Boomer!” Culture

For some time now, there has been intense interest among American business leaders, but also among pastors, church officials, and denominational consultants, in the decline of the Baby Boomer generation (consisting of those born between 1946 and 1964), and the rise of younger generations, including Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and “Generation-Z” (born between…

New Data on Church Closures

This week’s post is from Rev. David Schoen, author of Facing Your Church’s Uncertain Future: Helpful Practices for Courageous Conversations & Faithful Decisions. To contact Rev. Schoen, email him at dschoen@ucc.org.   Are church closures increasing? It’s a question that I’m often asked. Through the work of the UCC Center for Analytics, Research and Data…