Pastors Respond to Great Realignment

Source: Presbyterian Mission

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn increased attention to the role of mental health and self-care as communities have to enhance their resiliency to combat the unprecedented challenges that emerged as a part of the pandemic.

One of these major shifts has been a massive exodus of clergy persons from vocational ministry and the emergence of new ministry leaders to replace them.

One pastor, Rev. Laurel Hamilton of Indiana observed COVID-19 “either made a good pastoral relationship better or a weaker pastoral relationship worse.” Prior to the pandemic, Hamilton would have described her ministry as “solid” but toxic behaviors began to rise to the surface as the congregation wrestled with issues such as masking, vaccines, and collective trauma brought about by the pandemic.

“They wondered why they had to wear a mask in church when they didn’t have to wear one at the grocery store,” Hamilton said.

During the pandemic, an anonymous congregant blamed Hamilton for the decline in attendance and giving. This resulted in the congregation denying her a raise.

Responding to the criticism and the state of the congregation’s affairs, Hamilton said, “If it had not been for Covid, I truly believe this would not have come to the point that it had, that I felt that I had to leave because of my emotional health.”

Tragically, Hamilton’s story is not an anomaly, but an experience shared by many pastors across the country. In an April 2022 Barron’s report, Marcus Buckingham and Nela Richardson of the ADP Research Institute stated that the pandemic has created an environment where workers experience “subtle and complex shifts in how they see their jobs and themselves.”

This trend observed primarily from an analysis primarily of secular work spaces is also observable in vocational settings.

As a result pastors are reassessing their gifts and instances like Hamilton are wanting to put behind them strained relationships behind them. As the Great Realignment continues to shift the clergy landscape, it is important for congregations to remember change is not always bad and can actually be a time of reflection discernment. With new opportunities there will be new challenges, but either way God will be with us.

Source: Presbyterian Mission