Monday, February 14, 2011

Odd Article

Here is a rather interesting blog article on about Baby Boomers entering seminary. My class at Seabury was something of an exception with the majority of my classmates under 35. At Westcott House in the Church of England when I was there, there certainly were not any boomers that I recall, with the exception of maybe one or two. Certainly, there were plenty of Boomers in other classes in the Episcopal Church seminaries though.

I think this is partly the end result of (at least in the Episcopal church) the thinking of those in the Ordination process discernment committees for several years starting in the late '80's that seminarians needed some "real life experience" before going to seminary. This was largely a disaster because young people who were discouraged or turned away until they reached "riper years" (as it says in the adult baptism rite in the1662 Book of Common Prayer), moved on either to secular jobs or to other denominations or ministries that were ready to welcome them with open arms. This policy began to shift in the late 90's because someone looked around and realized that everyone in seminary had grey hair.

Not that there is anything wrong with grey hair. I have developed a few in my beard myself. Certainly, there was some wisdom in the idea that seminarians should have some real life experience before going into ordained ministry. Those in my seminary who did have some sort of secular job or had gone to grad school elsewhere did bring a different perspective which I think will serve them well when they get into regular parish life.

As a friend of mine on Facebook said when commenting on this article, "I take umbrage with this article's conclusion and am tempted to write a follow up article about how baby-boomer white liberal guilt is destroying traditional liturgy. Grace imparted upon ordination is the gift of God to accomplish the tasks which the Lord has set before you, regardless of age or experience. I know many accomplished and gifted ministers who are young and who are older. Kyrie eleison.'

While I don't quite agree with his tone, I think he made an interesting point. Certainly the Baby Boom generation was also the generation that rebelled against everything when they were young. I am forced to wonder (and I fear I know the answer to my question) that such a demongraphic is feeding the ever leftward drift of the Episcopal Church, particularly in the areas of the liberality of sexual expression and the ever increasing belligerency toward the Anglican Communion and Canterbury. 

I do also have to wonder with the sheer expense of seminary (and subsequent debt load on seminarians), is it really prudent to invest so much time, talent, and treasure in hoards of aging Baby Boomers whom the Church might get 10 years of ordained ministry out of before retirement (at which point they will flood the Church Pension Fund and Clergy Insurance pool like they will with Medicare and Social Security entitlements.) 

 I certainly don't have an answer to any of this. I just pose this as food for thought.

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