Clergy Age Trends- Some WNC Specific Data


Age-TrendsThe Lewis Center of Wesley Theological Seminary released its 2015 clergy Age Trends report for The United Methodist Church this week. Here are some highlights from that report:
Numbers of Young Elders Grow Over Ten Years; All Gains from Clergywomen
In 2005, the United Methodist Church reported the smallest percentage of under-35 elders ever. The 850 young elders that year represented 4.69 percent of active elders. Growth among young elders has been slow but relatively steady over the past ten years. In 2015, there are 986 young elders that comprise 6.56 percent of the pool of active elders, a pool now smaller by over 3,000 elders. Gender has been a major factor in the gains to the extent that there are actually fewer young male elders now than in 2005 with all the increases coming from young female clergy.
Fewer Elders, More Local Pastors
Elders and local pastors are appointed as pastors of congregations. The number of active elders continues to decline as the number of local pastors grows. Since 1990 there are 6,488 fewer elders and 3,525 more local pastors. In 1990, there were over five elders for each local pastor; today there are two elders for each local pastor. In 2015, there are 15,019 elders and 7,464 local pastors.
Elders Older Despite More Young Elders
Elders between ages 55 and 72 comprise 55 percent of all active elders, the highest percentage in history. Read the entire report here Some interesting facts from the data related to the Western North Carolina Conference:
  • The mean age of clergy in the WNCC is 52, median age is 55
  • With 676 Elders, WNCC has more Elders than any other Annual Conference (we also have the largest number of ordained clergy 733, and the largest total number of clergy-which includes local pastors- 975)
  • 7.4% of the Elders in WNCC are under age 35 (the national average is 6.57%)
  • 8.77% of our Deacons are under age 35 (national average is 9.43%)
  • 11.16% of our Local Pastors in WNCC are under 35 years of age (national average is 8.05%)
Below is a chart of percentage for all clergy in age groups in WNCC
Under 35 35 to 54 55 to 72
Elders 7.40% 42.46% 50.15%
Deacons 8.77% 54.39% 36.84%
Local Pastors 11.16% 37.60% 51.24%

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at


  • Resources
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