Episcopal Clergy Increasingly Identify as LGBTQ

Source: Church Pension Group

By Kirk Petersen

Church Pension Group has flexed its mighty databases in search of insights into clergy compensation based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. In response to resolutions at the 2018 General Convention, CPG has repeatedly introduced enhancements in its demographic reporting, and the latest results are described in an hour-long webinar on the company’s website.

Here are the bulleted observations in a press release issued July 26 by CPG, along with some additional analysis by TLC.

  • Episcopal clergy are gradually becoming more diverse, in particular with respect to sexual orientation.

This is perhaps the most striking finding in the press release, and it comes at a time when controversy over same-sex marriage at the Lambeth Conference is underscoring the different levels of acceptance of LGBTQ orientations among provinces of the Anglican Communion.

From 2010 to 2021, more than one out of every four new Episcopal priests and deacons identified as LGBTQ — a proportion more than three times higher than for the U.S. population as a whole. The Gallup Poll reported in February 2022 that 7.1 percent of U.S. adults identified as LGBTQ. Gallup says that percentage has more than doubled in the last decade, reflecting a greater willingness of young adults to acknowledge non-heterosexual orientations. Meanwhile, CPG says that 4 percent of newly consecrated bishops from 2010 to 2021 identify as LGBTQ.

  • There has been a significant increase in the number of female bishops over the past five years.

TLC has reported on this before, but the webinar provided a useful benchmark. From 1989 to 2015, a period of 26 years, the Episcopal Church consecrated its first 22 female bishops. The next 22 were consecrated from 2016 to 2021, during which time women accounted for nearly half of all new bishops.

  • Clergy of color are disproportionately represented at higher and lower compensation ranges.
  • Clergy of color and LGBTQ+ clergy are more likely to serve outside the parish than white heterosexual clergy.
  • The path to becoming a bishop can differ by race/ethnicity.

Specifically, 60 percent of new white bishops were parish priests when they were elected, with the remainder in non-parochial roles, such as diocesan or churchwide staff. For new bishops of color, 52 percent moved directly from parish ministry.

  • Compensation is higher for male clergy than female clergy.

However, among Black and Hispanic clergy, women have higher median compensation than men.

Data geeks among TLC‘s readers — and you know who you are — will remember an in-depth examination last November of the Church Pension Group’s annual survey of clergy compensation. Under the headline “Geeking Out With CPG’s Compensation Report,” the article did a deep dive into CPG’s improved interactive reporting tool, looking for anomalies among dioceses.

This led to some interesting tidbits that CPG itself could never prudently call out, given its client relationship with every diocese. (Which diocese reported median compensation for male clergy more than three times higher than for female clergy? At the other end of the spectrum, are you in one of the 14 dioceses where median clergy compensation was higher for women than for men?)

Spokesman Curt Ritter said CPG’s annual compensation report will be updated in October, so the compensation data cited in the webinar are from year-end 2020. However, data on ordination and deployment was current. CPG knows precisely how much compensation clergy receive, but data for race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation were self-reported by the 41 percent of clergy who responded to a survey.


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