United Methodist Church Concerned About Decline of Young Church Leaders After Report Shows Number of Elders Under Age 35 is at Lowest Since 2005

Delegates pray before a plenary session at the United Methodist Church’s 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. | (Photo: Facebook/United Methodist General Conference)

The United Methodist Church has expressed concern over the apparent decline of young church leaders, notably following a report that elders under the age of 35 has hit its lowest point since 2005 and is about a third of what it was in 1990.

Wesley Theological Seminary’s Lewis Center for Church Leadership recently released an annual report on age trends in UMC leadership, focusing on the jurisdictional conferences based in the United States.

According to the Lewis Center report, there are 875 elders under the age of 35 in the UMC this year, a decline from 949 elders under 35 last year.

It represents the lowest number of UMC elders under 35 since 2005, when the total was at 850, a record low. It is also well below the amount in 1990, when the denomination had 2,385 elders under 35.

However, as a percentage of the total, elders under 35 has remained consistent over the past four years due to an overall decline in the number of elders.

“Interestingly, due to the overall decline in the total number of active elders in the United Methodist Church, the percentage of young elders of all active elders remains around 7 percent, up from the record low of 5 percent in 2005,” read the report.

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., senior consultant at the Lewis Center, said in a statement published last Wednesday that it was “difficult to know all the causes of the dramatic recent decline in the number of young elders.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski