Pastors of the baby boomer generation are ringing in retirement: that has consequences
Created: 12/21/2022, 06:00
By: Carl Christian Eick
The Wolfratshausen pastor and deputy dean in the district, Florian Gruber, knows that the number of Protestant pastors in Bavaria will fall by almost half in the next eight years.
In eight years, the number of Protestant pastors in Bavaria is expected to have halved.
This has far-reaching consequences.
Wolfratshausen/Geretsried/Ebenhausen - For a long time the church was "the rock in the surf of social upheaval".
This is what Pastor Florian Gruber states in the current parish bulletin of the Evangelical Lutheran parish of St. Michael Wolfratshausen.
But "drastic changes" would now force the decision-makers to act.
According to Gruber, the evangelical parishes in Wolfratshausen, Geretsried and Ebenhausen are planning to merge the parish office and kindergarten administration.
Pastors of the baby boomer generation herald retirement: This has consequences in the Wolfratshausen region
"It's not about dissolving one of the three parishes," emphasizes the Wolfratshausen pastor.
The aim of the restructuring is to ensure that "the commitment of the people, the pastoral care, will continue to be the focus in the future".
This means that the pastors should be relieved of administrative work as far as possible so that there is still time for "personal conversations", for services, baptisms, weddings and funerals, for confirmation and youth work, pastoral care and diaconal support for those in need.
We want to act now instead of just being able to react later.
Pastor Florian Gruber
The evangelical regional church has announced that in the next eight years numerous pastoral positions can no longer be filled, explains Gruber.
Because many pastors from the so-called baby boomer generation – the baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 – are about to retire and there are far fewer potential successors, “the number of pastors will fall by almost half in the next eight years”.
Church tax revenue will fall by up to 30 percent by 2030
"Of course it's also about the money," admits Gruber.
Church tax revenue is falling.
On the one hand because of the many people leaving the church, "on the other hand because of the change of generations".
The Evangelical Church in Bavaria expects a drop in income of up to 30 percent by 2030 compared to the level of 2019. That was the forecast by the chairman of the finance committee of the Bavarian state synod, Joachim Pietzcker, at the end of last year.
In 2019, Pietzcker recorded around 900 million euros in income, more than 750 million euros of which was church tax revenue.
In view of the wave of retirements to be expected, Gruber does not rule out the possibility that there will be "only one pastor" in Wolfratshausen in the medium term.
For him, the balancing act between pastoral care and administration would no longer be manageable.
Gruber and his counterparts in Geretsried and Ebenhausen don't want to wait until the child has fallen into the well.
"We want to act now instead of just being able to react later," he explains the strategy.
"A meaningful division of labor" and a "different administration" must be worked out - under the sword of Damocles, a reduction in staff.
Wolfratshausen: Retirement is not far away for Pastor Gruber either
One thing is certain: the Evangelical-Lutheran church community in the local area is getting smaller, so the "concentration" of the administrative tasks of the parish office and kindergarten administration at one location is unavoidable.
“We want to set off in good time,” says Gruber.
For him, too, the farewell to professional life ("It's the most beautiful job in the world!") is not far off, but if his health allows it, he wants to postpone day X in coordination with the personnel managers of the regional church.
Because: "I would like to help shape the upcoming upheaval." That's easier for him, like others who are well connected, enjoy people's trust and know the region, than it is for a newcomer.
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Members of the three church councils have already met
A first step on the way: The members of the three church councils recently met and, according to Gruber, had a very constructive discussion on an equal footing.
"Now the church councils have to make concrete decisions that we want to set out together." As a result, "it'll get more intense," explains the pastor and deputy dean in the district of Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen.
It is important to him "that all full-time employees are on board".
And: Ideally, the restructuring should take place behind the scenes so quietly "that the people outside don't even notice it".
Pastor Gruber: Job cuts are not the aim of the restructuring
The parishes of St. Michael in Wolfratshausen and the Evangelical Lutheran parish in the neighboring town of Geretsried are already very closely interwoven.
Deaconess Michaela Kleemann works “half here and half there”, the same applies to Pastor Christian Moosauer.
Florian Gruber is confident that the three parishes will master the challenge.
"It's not the goal to cut jobs," said the Wolfratshausen pastor.
But the basic conditions are predetermined.
It would be fatal to turn a blind eye to developments.
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