About 500 parishes in the United States don’t have an assigned priest. They instead depend upon lay ministers and occasional visits by priests to conduct mass. Even in parishes with one or two full-time priests, volunteers are known to help out with tasks including religious education and marriage preparation. It has also been said that about one third of pastors serving large Protestant denominations work full time. This may seem odd, but this was said to be a common practice up until the middle of the 20th century. It is only through rising prosperity and professionalism that more men graduated from the seminary and went on to become full-time pastors. However, that may no longer be the case.

In 2006, the Southern Baptist Convention conducted a study and found that a full-time minister is said to cost $59,995 a year. A part time minister only costs $17,385. These pastors are required to take on second, full time jobs in order to support themselves and their families. They do their job less for the money than for their belief that the job is their calling and something that fulfills them. Besides conducting mass, they are also required to attend church council meetings, Bible studies, suppers and other gatherings, and being their for their congregation.

Part time religious figures are not limited to Christian religions. Even part-time rabbis exist, and American mosques have volunteer leaders to help out. In Catholicism, only a priests can perform all of the sacraments, especially when it comes to performing the Eucharist. However, as priests become in short supply, several full time and part time ministers are beginning to help out. If it weren’t for these volunteers and part time figures, many churches, synagogues, and mosques would cease to operate.

For related articles visit http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19365626/ and http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/3042031.shtml.

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