By Channon Watkins
The South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church has ranked No. 7 among top 10 United Methodist conferences for the number of clergy younger than the age of 35.
This is the first time South Carolina has ever placed in the top 10.
According to the Rev. Kenneth Nelson, South Carolina has been “striving for ways to encourage newer and younger persons to enter the ministry.”
The efforts were deliberate and intentional to reach this goal, he said, including a call to Christian discipleship for younger members, offered at the conference youth Revolution event each January.
Nelson said the move to draw younger members came after a period of imbalance—there weren’t enough incoming clergy to relieve the clergy nearing retirement. Conference leaders began to question, “What’s not right?”
To Nelson, finding more and younger clergy was about remembering that the ministry is about God’s calling, not just another career. He said the conference did not want to appear desperate—or invite potentials into a “sinking ship”—but it did want to be intentional about recruiting new clergy.
Their strategic efforts are finally showing. After previously ranking in the 20s, the No. 7 standing means South Carolina has made a significant jump.
Nelson said the conference is hoping to double its efforts and continue to move up the list.