Local pastors — non-ordained, and in most cases without a seminary degree — are growing in number and taking on more roles in The United Methodist Church.
United Methodist News Services’s Sam Hodges provides coverage of the overall trend, the rapid growth of part-time local pastors, the use of local pastors in Hispanic outreach and the challenges faced by local pastors in in the Central Conferences.
He also profiles six part-time local pastors of the West Virginia Conference, including a grocer, a corrections officer and the 2013 state Teacher of the Year.
Read all the stories in the UM News special report on the challenges and contributions of local pastors in The United Methodist Church.
Local pastors on the rise
Non-ordained, non-seminary-trained clergy are growing in number and serving in a variety of roles in The United Methodist Church.
Pastor named 'Bible' leads 4 mountain churches
At 78, he’s in his third decade of ministry, and still farming on the side. But he’s had to give up river baptisms.
As ordained elder numbers decline, The United Methodist Church is depending more on bivocational and other part-time local pastors.
The Rev. Michael Funkhouser found fulfillment in classroom and pulpit.
Central conferences depend on local pastors
Challenges abound, but non-ordained clergy ‘swing the arms’ in faith.
Plant manager ‘called home’ to preach
At district superintendent’s request, he added leading two churches to a busy life.
Local pastors lead Hispanic outreach
Conferences turn to non-elder clergy for help in reaching fast-growing demographic.
Lessons learned as grocer helped him lead churches
'I learned time management from Kroger,’ part-time pastor says.
When jail shift ends, he’s off to preach
Corrections officer doesn’t always have time to change out of his uniform, but congregation understands.
Slideshow: A look at local pastors
For a series about the growing importance of licensed local pastors, photographer Mike DuBose traveled around West Virginia and Kentucky and captured images of them in their churches.