Research on entry of new clergy into ministry

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Sun, 09/01/1991
End Date: 
Wed, 06/30/1993

With the goal of assisting recent seminary graduates to have a positive first-time pastoral experience, Nelson conducted a survey of new ministers and their congregations within the PCUSA, as well as evaluating strategies the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and the two-phased ordination policy of the United Methodist Church (UMC). He then formed a small group committee that reviewed and evaluated the programs (if any) for facilitating new-pastor transitions and the results of the surveys (conducted largely within the PCUSA). Three points of difficulty surfaced: (1) graduates felt insufficiently prepared for ministry; (2) professors expressed tension between teaching academics and ministry preparation; (3) congregations with new ministers whose needs were not met complained to denominational officers, who in turn removed pastors with little mentoring or training. This small group designed and implemented experimental programs and evaluated their effectiveness at promoting a smooth transition from seminary to pulpit. Programs that encouraged mentoring relationships between recent graduates and denominational leaders, and those that provided retreats for pastors throughout a denominational region proved most successful for pastors and congregations.(MG)