How refreshing to find an airing of the problems in parish ministry by a person of recognized ability, Barbara Brown Taylor.
I left the United Methodist Church after 3 years in parish ministry when the hierarchy of the church approved locking out 125 Hispanic people from an Anglo church. Prior to the lock-out, the Hispanic people had only been allowed to enter the building by the back door and all but 2 rooms had their locks changed to prevent Hispanic people "who have germs" from entering.
I was asked by the board of ordained ministry "why 'those people' need a building; why can't they worship in a field." I could only respond: well, last I noticed it rains where they live.
The observation that the 11 AM hour is the most segregated in the US is not true because of tradition or happenstance; it is an intentional policy.
As to why some ministers manage to stay 40 or 50 years? I learned why the most consistent quality in ministers who manage to stay in parish work is that they say NOTHING. It is as though they are issued a roll of duct tape with their ordination papers -- faithful leadership will not be tolerated.
I also learned that most ministers, as noted in one review, stay and put up with the agony of the betrayal of their vows because they 1) need the pension plan 2) need the parsonage 3) lack faith in God that God can make a way out of no way.
I am now witnessing the same process I endured occurring in a large black Holiness Church. So the aspect of church life as a "closed club" is occurring in all venues that are uni-racial. Breaking the hold of such behaviors doesn't allow much room for "cozy feelings" in ministry.
Wherever there are material possessions (buildings, trust funds, endowments) and issues of power, being a minister will be costly -- just like the cross. Ministry is not for the faint of heart nor is it designed to provide earthly happiness for the minister while all around us the poor are suffering. If Bishop TuTu had not stood and stayed against apartheid, where would South Africa be? Thank heaven he did not retreat to a comfortable academia.
I'm glad Barbara Brown Taylor has found a haven -- the poor, Indian people who were locked out of my parish church have no haven but Christ.
M. G. Crandall