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In Goodbye Jesus: An Evangelical Preacher’s Journey Beyond Faith, author Tim Sled wrote about the silent epidemic of clergy-forced termination. Citing a survey reviewed by Leadership magazine, he wrote:
“Squabbles that end in the ouster of ministers are a recurrent and harrowing part of church life; congregations are often bitterly divided, with a loss of membership. The survey reported that such dismissals leave pastors and their families wounded spiritually and psychologically, as well as financially because they frequently must move to find a new position, with children switching schools and spouses changing jobs”.
The study indicated that about one in ten drop out of the ministry entirely after such an episode. The survey showed that many pastors, even those who never left a church involuntarily, work fearing dismissal. About one-third of the respondents believed that it was either likely or very likely that the significant areas of tension in their congregations could lead to an ouster.
One aftermath of forced termination trauma for clergy is that they often become further isolated. Some by choice because of a sense of shame and failure. Others, due to the distancing they experience from peers and even denominational staff who ostensibly should be a support system. The feelings of isolation and of being cut off exacerbate the trauma of the forced termination experience.
The Center for Lifelong Learning will offer the Wounded Minister’s Retreat for Clergy and Spouses on the campus of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, on April 10-11, 2024. The retreat is for those who have experienced forced termination or are amid a conflict that may lead to one. Clergy can find a safe, supportive network to help process their experience and move toward a healthier response to the aftermath of forced termination experience.
The retreat costs $100 per person or $150 per clergy couple. If you need this experience, join us. If you know of a colleague who needs it, please encourage them to attend.
Click HERE to register for the April retreat.