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(This invitation includes excerpts from “Calling in the Key of She: Empowerment Program” brochure, created by Equity for Women in the Church Board member Rev. Andrea Clark Chambers.)

You’re invited to support “Equity Live,” conversations on the equal representation of clergywomen as pastors. These liberating and illuminating conversations will be live-streamed on social media and available on YouTube. Your tax deductible donations go to the 501(c)3 nonprofit Equity for Women in the Church, Inc., to be used for professional video equipment and technological expertise and time of production professionals.

Equity for Women in the Church is partnering with The Gathering: A Womanist Church to create “Equity Live” with a mission of dismantling the interlocking injustices of sexism and racism that impede clergywomen. Equity for Women in the Church is an ecumenical movement to facilitate equal representation of clergywomen as pastors of multicultural churches in order to transform church and society. The Gathering’s social justice priorities are racial equity, dismantling PMS (patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism), and LGBTQ equality.

Many people would like to believe that we live in a post-sexist world because of the strides that have been made toward gender equity. Unfortunately, we know that gender inequality is still prevalent in every sector of our society, and painfully, often unashamedly, present in the church.

The #MeToo movement that raised widespread awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence empowered women to break their silence about the abuse they have suffered in churches. #ChurchToo stories are a powerful reminder that sexual abuse isn’t limited to Hollywood.

Male dominance in the leadership and language of churches forms the foundation for this abuse of women. When males are given God-like status, they are more likely to feel entitled to do whatever they like and females not to question their authority.

Although the number of women in theological education has increased to almost 40%, only about 10% of pastors of all Protestant churches are women. The percentage of women of color who find places to fulfill their call to pastor is much lower. In many denominations the percentage of women pastors of all ethnicities is lower than 1%. The average compensation of female pastors is much lower than that of male pastors, although clergywomen are more likely to have seminary degrees. “Equity Live” plans to address these inequities and to bring change through the power of diverse voices advocating for women in ministry.

Despite advances that have been made over the past decades, there are still alarming numbers of people who have only experienced male pastors and religious leaders because of the erroneous teaching that the Bible mandates that women should not and cannot serve as church leaders. Often congregants learn in Sunday school and sermons only about male biblical characters who are revered as God’s chosen ones, while females sit on the sidelines of the stories. They are taught about a male God who sent a male Savior who called male disciples. So in the minds of many, images of the clergy and leadership are exclusively male. For this reason, churches are frequently male-centered, male-dominated, and male-privileged in their practices even though females consistently make up the majority of church members. “Equity Live” will work toward gender equality in church and society.

Females experience prejudice and discrimination in churches through the theology, language, and practices. Congregants are trained and ingrained in patriarchal understandings of the Bible, misogynist views of biblical passages, and distorted theologies that promote the relegation of women in the church and the larger society. If they do hear about female figures in the Bible, they are often presented in a negative light. They are cast as insignificant players whose roles as mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, warriors, servants, midwives, prophets, queens, mourners, intercessors, disciples, leaders, and deacons only serve to bolster the males in their lives. So the very tool that should be used to bring liberation and freedom to women is regularly used as a means to assault and abuse females within our sacred walls and stained-glass ceilings. “Equity Live” will work to end this abuse and to transform church and society.

Often because of the church’s culture, the vocation of ministry is not even a consideration for females. When they do express their calling to serve in leadership positions, many are told that they are only allowed to serve as missionaries, teachers, or children’s assistants but never over a man. Women and girls are informed that they can work in the kitchen, but not in ministry. It is permissible for them to dust the pulpit, but not stand in it. They are allowed to clean the robes, but never wear one. It’s fine for them to prepare and serve meals, but never behind the Communion table. “Equity Live” will address these inequities in order to effect change on an individual and systemic level.

“Equity Live” conversations will include “Calling in the Key of She,” a program of Equity for Women in the Church that provides churches with resources to develop and maintain “female-friendly” congregations who live out their beliefs that God equally loves, calls, values, affirms, and embraces the gifts of all females in the church. “Calling in the Key of She” guides congregations to work toward justice and equality for women and girls, and in so doing to transform everyone. The goal is to move beyond imagining to working to create equitable congregations in order to create a more just world.

Please join our ministry of transforming church and society. Your tax deductible donations go to the 501(c)3 nonprofit Equity for Women in the Church, Inc., to be used for professional video equipment and technological expertise and time of production professionals.

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