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The problems with lay pastors

My home congregation is in some ways emblematic of the dilemmas facing mainline Protestants. Bethel Peniel Presbyterian Church is located in a small town in upstate New York where Presbyterians were dominant in the 18th century and numerous in the 19th. A century ago, one of its predecessor churches had more than 300 members—as many as the building could hold. But in 2009, despite the merger of two Presbyterian churches that gave the congregation its double name, Bethel Peniel had fewer than 100 members on the rolls, and about one-quarter of those were too infirm to participate actively.


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