From The Washington Post:
The past few years have jostled and rocked the labor market overall, with many millions losing and changing jobs either by force, by choice or a combination of the two. But some research and anecdotes suggest this period is a crisis for American clergy. A Barna survey of Protestant pastors published last month found 38 percent said they’d considered quitting full-time ministry in the past year. Matthew Manion, director of the Center for Church Management at Villanova University, which was founded to help Catholic parishes, said he doesn’t know if priest exits are rising, “but stress levels are through the roof.” Diocesan leaders say there is an increase in requests for emotional and mental support to deal with the pandemic, racial awakening and political polarization, he said.
Tom Knoll had led First Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown D.C. for 37 years when the pandemic hit. At first Knoll, whose career has focused on the poor and homeless, revved up. The church started live-streaming services on Facebook, worshiped and did Bible classes on Zoom. They hired staff to create YouTube videos including cartoons for children.
Then many younger members left D.C. and stopped coming virtually. Knoll, 66, began to question his usefulness. He saw people suffering and felt he couldn’t help them. For people with mental and intellectual disabilities who can’t use Zoom, all he could do was drop off crafts kits.
Knoll decided to retire several years earlier than he’d planned, and his final service was last Christmas Eve, when he stood alone in a darkened sanctuary, preaching to his congregation for a final time over Zoom. “It was very, very sad, and very, very weird,” he said.