Pastors and the Poor

One of the great products of the North Alabama Conference is Dr. S T Kimbrough. S T is the world’s greatest scholar of Charles Wesley hymns, and a great missionary leader. He will be one of our speakers at the Gathering of the Orders Retreat at Sumatanga October 18-20, 2010. S T responded to one of my Bishop’s Emails last year, with a Wesleyan Hymn that speaks of the high responsibility that we pastors have in paying more attention to the number of persons reached for Christ (particular the poor) and less attention to the numbers in our salaries: I suggest that you use this hymn as a prayer this week.

William H. Willimon

Dear Will,

I just read your weekly message, “Anything worth doing for God is worth counting.” I could not but think of one of the Charles Wesley texts that I discovered among his unpublished literature a few years ago. I first published it in a little book SONGS FOR THE POOR.

Your message mentioned above reminded me of Wesley’s text “You pastors hired who undertake”. It captures part of what you are saying and is a great hymn with which to open an annual conference.

I think part of the numbers keeping to which you refer, though I know you are referring to congregations in general, is also accountability for what we pastors do with our own resources. If we pastors, as Charles Wesley suggests, can pillage the poor, can we expect anything more from our congregations?

Charles Wesley’s text is below.


1. You pastors hired, who undertake
the awful ministry
for lucre or ambition’s sake.
a nobler pattern see!
Who greedily your pay receive,
and adding cure to cure,
In splendid ease and pleasurers live
By pillaging the poor

2. See here an apostolic priest
commissioned from the sky,
who dares of all vain self divest,
the needy to supply!
A primitive example rare
of gospel-poverty
to feed the flock one’s only care,
and like the Lord to be.

3. Jesus to us apostles raise
like-minded pastors give,
who freely may dispense thy grace
as freely they receive;
who disengaged from all below
may earthly things despise,
and every creature-good forego
for treasure in the skies.

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