Clergy Salaries, Bibles in China, Falwell Parody & Russia

Clergy Salaries, Bibles in China, Falwell Parody & Russia

In Today's Edition:


Clergy - Better Paid But Overworked ... A report from UPI indicates that in the past 10 years, the average salary of Protestant ministers has risen 25 percent to $40,077. But that is "still a pittance" compared with the salaries of many other professionals. According to UPI, income varies by educational level, denomination and geographic location. Based on survey results from the Barna Research Group, the report shows that ministers of mainline churches such as Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist, earn an average of $45,510.

"Pentecostals pay their pastors 16 percent below the national average. Least well paid are ministers of small rural congregations whose Sunday services are attended by less than 100 adults. On the other hand, large urban or suburban parishes packing more than 251 people into their sanctuaries an any given Sunday give their senior pastors an average of $58,333 per year. There are some high-profile congregations that pay more than $100,000," according to UPI.

Most troubling, said the report, is the amount of time a typical pastor puts in - often 50 to 70 hours a week. A common guideline recommends that for each sermon minute, an hour of preparation is needed. So for an average sermon, preparation takes almost 20 hours out of a pastor's week. In addition, "committee meetings have to be attended, the sick and aging congregants to be visited, confirmation classes to be taught, clergy conference to be attended, members to be married or buried."


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Growth in China's House Church Movement Credited to Bible Distribution Efforts ... After a recent trip to China, World Bible Translation Center president, Dale Randolph, reported how measurable growth in China's house church movement is tied to the Center's distribution of its Easy-to-Read Chinese Bible. Randolph described how conversions and new churches trail after the Center's Bible distribution efforts. "In the last seven years the Center's distributions have resulted in over 360 baptisms and 62 new churches. And that's only what we know about," said Randolph. "I have baptized 50 people in the last two years," said Xiang, (not his real name) WBTC's primary contact.

The Translation Center prints its Easy-to-Read Chinese Bibles inside China. "It's a tricky and perilous process because of the difficult political climate in China," said Randolph. "But we're working with some dedicated people who make sacrifices every day to get the Word out." Randolph described how each month an average of 12 people are baptized and three or four new house churches are started. Xiang believes that in the next five years, there will be at least 600-800 more people baptized and some 200 more churches should begin as a result of the Center's distribution efforts.


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Roman Catholics Discuss Sexual Misconduct Policies with Ecumenical Partners ... (ENS) - On June 5, some 15 ecumenical partners gathered in the Episcopal Church Center in New York, at the invitation of William Cardinal Keeler, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore. The purpose of the meeting was to engage in a conversation about the draft text of a "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" to be presented to Catholic bishops who will meet this week in Dallas. Input on the document was shared, as were the sexual misconduct policies of the various Christian communions present.

"It was clear from the meeting that the Roman Catholic Church and its bishops do not stand alone in the painful experience of dealing with sexual misconduct among clergy and lay leaders in the church," reports ENS. "The Catholic Church shares with the wider ecumenical community deep concern for the victims of sexual abuse, especially children and young people. All Christians must work together in seeking to find ways to offer healing to those who have been so wounded and to restore the faithful to the faith that has been taken from them by these actions."

In addition to giving and receiving feedback on this specific document, the participants agreed to seek ways in the future to cooperate together in order to take even more dramatic steps on the specific issue of abuse of children and young people in church and society.


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Falwell Loses Web Site Dispute ... According to a report from the Associated Press (AP), the Rev. Jerry Falwell can't stop a Web site from making fun of him. An international arbiter of Internet domain names, The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), has denied Falwell's complaint against Gary Cohn, owner of www.jerryfalwell.com. The panel ruled against Falwell's claim that his name is a "common-law" trademark. "There are many well-known ministers, religious figures and academics. Are their sermons or lectures to be considered commercial goods?" they asked. AP reported that the decision also applies to www.jerryfallwell.com, another Falwell parody.

The disagreement began last fall, according to AP, when Falwell's attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to Cohn. In February, Falwell filed a complaint with WIPO. According to AP, Cohn created the site after hearing Falwell say that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 were the result of God lifting his protection from Americans because of their immoral behavior. When he heard of the WIPO decision, Cohn said, "God has lifted his veil of protection over Jerry Falwell ministries."


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Russia: Baptist Church To Be Razed By Ring Road ... A Baptist prayer house in the city of Kazan (500 miles east of Moscow) is being threatened with demolition in order to make way for the Tatar capital's new ring road, reports Keston News Service. Like the Soviet-era branch of the Baptist Council of Churches from which it broke away in 1993, the independent Kazan Baptist congregation rejects current Russian registration requirements as "unacceptable," parishioner Nadezhda Sharipova told Keston News Service in Kazan on May 24.

Since the church therefore constitutes a "religious group" according to Russia's 1997 law on religion, it does not have legal personality status and is consequently unable to possess property in its own name. According to the same law, however, "premises and property necessary for the activities of a religious group are provided for the use of the group by its participants." In the eyes of the state, explained Sharipova, the prayer house is thus a private building belonging to a parishioner, Andrei Yelizarov.

In an interview with Keston on May 28, chairman of Tatarstan's Council for Religious Affairs, Renat Nabiyev, said that he was not aware of the unregistered Baptist congregation or the threat to its prayer house posed by the planned ring road. Asked what would be the most likely outcome, he replied: "Nothing - what can you do if it is in the way?" After consulting by telephone with his Council's Protestantism specialist, Igor Kornilov, he continued: "If they're unregistered it is the problem of the private citizen who owns the building. If it were a registered community then it would be a different matter:" Nabiyev stressed to Keston, however, that there would be "compensation or a new place."


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