Women fight for religious authority

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More women are graduating from seminaries, but in most faiths few are senior or solo clergy.

"If you have a senior rabbi who is a man, and the congregation is looking for an associate rabbi, they will look for a man or a woman," Shanks said. "But if the senior rabbi is a woman, they will say 'We already have a Advertisement woman.' So that's another piece we're looking at."

The June 28 "State of Women in Baptist Life" survey shows Baptist congregations led by women are increasing -- but slowly.

"Women are inching up, but we still have a long, long way to go," said Karen Massey, religion professor at Mercer University in Atlanta and a member of the group that commissioned the study. "The more mainline churches are years ahead of us."

Nationwide, about 600 women ordained in moderate and liberal Baptist denominations serve as senior or solo pastors. In California, of a total of 10 female pastors, three women head congregations.

What clergywomen in other faiths call "the stained-glass ceiling" is more like a skylight in Miller's Unitarian Universalist faith. Women hold forth each Sunday on more than half of the denomination's pulpits.

She was the first female minister to bear a child during her tenure. Now, fertile leaders have formed a support group: They are the "Reverend Mothers."

"If the senior ministers of large churches tend to be male, (that is) because they are toward the end of their careers," said Unitarian Universalist Association spokeswoman Janet Hayes.

In the mainstream Presbyterian faith, women make up close to half the clergy.

But in most faiths, female clergy -- especially senior clergy -- are in the minority.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

8 Comments
Posted July 22, 2007 at 1:57 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Sarah1 wrote:

What we need is an affirmative action program for female clergy.

I propose that General Convention change the Canons to REQUIRE every parish to consider one female for the position of rector, and HALF of all parishes in a given diocese to have female clergy as head rectors.

That will teach all of the parishes to repeal their Manifest Prejudice against women as Senior Clergy, and ECUSA will grow and flourish as the Unitarians have done.

July 22, 4:02 pm | [comment link]
2. DonGander wrote:

I have yet to find a woman who is good at pursuading in theology. I have heard moving and winning stories, I have heard brilliant essays on the desire to worship.

Makes no difference, however. I hope that my granddaughters aspire to a higher calling than being president, being an astronaught, lawyer, or priest. I hope that they consider well the ministry to children that no one in the world could love as much as they can - their own. May God protect them from the temptions of lesser ministries.

DonGander

July 22, 5:14 pm | [comment link]
3. indie wrote:

Our rector is a priest and a mom and she seems to do a fine job in both roles. What I really wonder is how a man can be both a dad and a priest. Men are notoriously bad at multitasking.

July 22, 6:03 pm | [comment link]
4. Tom Roberts wrote:

#3
WO is a subject that is not accessible via unique personal citations. The issue is not whether one person appears to be qualified, but rather whether any person can stand in Christ’s place in consecrating a sacrificial eucharist. In response to your assertion, I might say that the validity of the sacraments are not prejudiced by clerical deficiencies.

July 22, 9:42 pm | [comment link]
5. indie wrote:

Considering that the person I was responding to was speaking mostly in in “unique personal citations” it seemed appropriate to respond accordingly.

July 22, 10:39 pm | [comment link]
6. Tom Roberts wrote:

#5
Posing a “strawman argument” is not justified in responding to a vain attempt at “proving a negative”, as in #2, which is notoriously hard.

To be exact, I’ve never won the NM lottery either, but that doesn’t prove that somebody cannot do so.

July 22, 11:03 pm | [comment link]
7. Larry Morse wrote:

Mr. Roberts speaks well and correctly.
I think I will add this however. I do not want a woman priest because I do not want the feminine weakness for hysteria - and I mean this in the technical sense of the word, not the vulgate. It’s not that women cannot be trained to act like men. They can, and in America we see it now all the time, the hardnosed broad who wants it all and who wants all the perks traditionally accorded to women.
The operative phrase is “wants if all,” both the man’s world and the woman’s world. We are now giving them the chance, obviously, and you may see TEC paying for it. The homophile agenda is the modern manwoman’s agenda. And I don’t want this caring for my soul.

  Why do you care about multitasking? Multitaskiing is another one of those brainless upscale novelties that is a euphemism for “not paying attention to anything very closely.” The adolescents say thay can listen to music, chat on the cell phone, imessage, and do their homework well. In fact, they can’t. The failure to focus attention to work at hand we can see everywhere, an entire population unable to focus its attention for more than a few minutes on anything, the television remote syndrome.  LM

July 23, 8:40 am | [comment link]
8. Alice Linsley wrote:

Women may teach, preach, and serve as deaconess in the church, monastics, hermitesses, anchorites, etc, but not as Christian priests.  Women and men share a common humanity and fulfillment in the Kingdom, but they are created to be in complementary roles.  The priesthood throughout the Bible and throughout Church history (until ECUSA’s innovation) is for males, and not for all males, but only for those whose manner of life is Christlike.

July 24, 12:10 am | [comment link]
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