Continuing the Conversation on Access and Equity for Women Clergy

Photo by Paula Clayton Dempsey

The ecumenical, multicultural Equity for Women in the Church Community continues to move forward to facilitate access and congregational receptivity so that clergywomen can fulfill their calls to pastor in order to transform church and society. Through writing, preaching, teaching, conversations, blogs, and activist groups, members of the Community continue to make plain the visions of equality and justice and to work to make the visions reality.

Rev. Christine A. Smith

On her blog, Rev. Christine Smith compares the work of access and equity for clergywomen to the civil rights work of Fannie Lou Hamer. “Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer’s famous phrase, ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. . . ’ could appropriately be used by clergywomen in 2013. I’ve thought about the struggles of Mrs. Hamer frequently over recent days. As I have reflected upon her triumphant and painful story as a female civil rights activist, it grieved me also to think about the disparities and inequalities women clergy face, causing them spiritual, psychological and even physical pain. . . . During the Equity and Access for Women Clergy Conference, it amazed me to listen to the striking similarities between clergywomen who literally, 30 years ago could not get a ‘call’ to a solo pastorate or had to accept small, dying, economically depressed congregations and take on a second job to make a living wage and clergy women in 2013 saying the same thing!” Read more:

(Rev. Christine A. Smith serves as pastor of Covenant Baptist Church in Wickliffe, Onio, and is author of Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping & Encouraging Female Pastors.)

Rev. Dr. Eileen Campbell-Reed

On her blog, Rev. Dr. Eileen Campbell-Reed writes about the “Double Stained Glass Ceiling,” created by gender and race, that many clergywomen experience. “The conference met one of its top goals by bringing together a diverse group of women and men from various racial-ethnic and denominational groups to speak forthrightly about challenges facing women called to ministry. In some denominations, the largest barriers remain at the point of ‘access,’ where women fill less than one percent of the pastorates. For example, ordained minister and professor at Wake Forest, Veronice Miles is the only woman her home church, an African-American Baptist congregation, has ever ordained. . . . Even in churches that call women, concerns remain for ‘equity’ on issues like pay and benefits, moving into a second pastoral call, and coping with systemic sexism and racism that lives in the social structures and relational networks of churches.” Read more:

(Rev. Dr. Eileen-Campbell-Reed serves as Co-Director of the Learning Pastoral Imagination Project and Visiting Instructor of Congregational and Community Care at Luther Seminary, and as Co-Editor of The Journal of Pastoral Theology.)

(left to right) Rev. Christine A. Smith; Rev. Eileen Campbell-Reed; Rev. Sheila Sholes-Ross, Equity Conference Co-Chair. Photo by Paula Clayton Dempsey




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