Where’s the passion?

Recently, Brett Younger wrote an article challenging seminaries to do more for their students:

Seminaries should not focus on ministers being efficient, effective and successful. The church needs fervor, anger and desire.

Seminaries should not produce ministers who want to maintain the church. The church needs ministers who will poke and prod the church.

In another recent article, Sara Hunt explained that young CBF-ers need to take the time to roll up their sleeves and build on what the Fellowship has built and stop trying to change everything all at once. She explains:

Our generation has a role to play in bringing forth this Fellowship’s identity as much as any generation before us. So let’s stop whining and get to work, or better yet, join in on the work already being done.

As I look towards my last semester of seminary, I can’t help but think in terms of the reality of getting a job as a pastor and the reality that after May I will have significant financial responsibilities, which came from embarking on this journey to answer the call to ministry. Although CBF has done significant work in creating a moderate Baptist alternative, I can’t agree that CBF has done enough work in helping young CBF-ers find and secure jobs in the ministry or in partnering with other moderate and progressive baptist churches to create a viable network.

In a recent post, Ellen Campbell Reed reflects:

The percentage of women pastoring in Alliance and mainline congregations ranges between 22 and 31 percent. Many women, like Alliance board member and Conference Co-chair, Sheila Sholes-Ross, travel a long winding road to church leadership. Sholes-Ross has been a candidate 31 times in pastoral searches over the past five years.

As a woman pastor, those aren’t good odds regardless of the foundation that moderate and progressive Baptist have done theologically to support women in ministry because just ordaining women ministers isn’t enough and having seminary experiences in which passion is encouraged and flamed doesn’t matter if these young ministers can’t find jobs in churches.

I’d like to say that I would maintain my passion and my rigor for my call to pastor and preach through 31 interview processes that ended with no call at the other end, but I can’t say that I would.

If we want moderate baptist churches to survive and continue on the foundation that has been created, then there have to jobs in every moderate Baptist church for young ministers and for women called to ministry.

Supporting, encouraging, and affirming is a great foundational belief, but if it has no place in the reality, then are we really providing a viable opportunity for moderate Baptist churches to grow and survive the next 10 years?

Merianna Neely

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About the Author
Merianna Neely Harrelson is a third year divinity school student at Gardner-Webb University. She is serving as the Interim Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship in Lexington, SC. She works as Editor-in-Chief of Harrelson Press in Columbia, SC.

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