Out to Pasture

In the past several months, five rectors of Manhattan churches have announced their impending retirements. This is a huge number; in the 1980’s, there might be at most a parish or two vacant at any one time, and often, all posts were filled.

Perhaps this is a statistical fluke. Perhaps this is just a generational blip. But since all of these clergy are well under the mandatory retirement age of 72, it is worth asking whether increased work loads or difficulties in serving the confused Episcopal Church “brand” have contributed to these priests seeking retirement. (In my view, all of these parishes are in better shape than when their respective incumbents took office–some in vastly improved condition.)

In the case of work loads, for example, the number of assisting clergy in most of these parishes has declined. In fact, the curate of old has become a rare luxury; for much of this year, the only assistant position listed for the Diocese of New York was Incarnation’s, and that was just filled.

As it happens, our search attracted 42 applications and inquiries. One can imagine that the five rectorships will attract large numbers–and one can hope that the successful candidates will build on the fine work of their predecessors. —J. Douglas Ousley

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