Saturday, August 26, 2006


The New York Times has a sympathetic article about clergy. The catch is, of course, that they're female clergy:
Whether they come from theologically liberal denominations or conservative ones, black churches or white, women in the clergy still bump against what many call the stained-glass ceiling — longstanding limits, preferences and prejudices within their denominations that keep them from leading bigger congregations and having the opportunity to shape the faith of more people.

Women now make up 51 percent of the students in divinity school. But in the mainline Protestant churches that have been ordaining women for decades, women account for only a small percentage — about 3 percent, according to one survey by a professor at Duke University — of pastors who lead large congregations, those with average Sunday attendance over 350. In evangelical churches, most of which do not ordain women, some women opt to leave for other denominations that will accept them as ministers. Women from historically black churches who want to ascend to the pulpit often start their own congregations....

Now why is it that these ladies would have such a problem? Apparently because they're pretty much the only people who actually want women in the pulpit:
People in the pews often do not accept women in the pulpit, clergy members said. “It’s still difficult for many in this culture to see women as figures of religious authority,” said the Rev. Cynthia M. Campbell, president of McCormick Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian seminary in Chicago.

The Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, pastor of Crossroads United Methodist Church in Phoenix, said that at every church where she has served, people have told her they were leaving because she is a woman.

At a large church where she was an associate pastor, a colleague told her that when she was in the pulpit, he could not focus on what she was saying because she is a woman. A man in the congregation covered his eyes whenever she preached.

Just because they decide they want to preach doesn't mean anyone--or any church--has to listen to them.

Oh, and those troublesome Scriptural objections:
Conflicting interpretations of the Bible underlie debates over women’s authority and ordination. Opponents of their ordination cite St. Paul’s words in I Timothy 2:12, in which he says, “I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent.” But proponents point to St. Paul again in Galatians 3:28, which says, “There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Ms. Escobedo-Frank is familiar with the argument.

“People have written me in almost every church I have been in except the current one, and said, ‘Timothy says women can’t preach, so how can you?’ ” she said.

But no answer is given, of course. As Paul wrote both Galatians and the letters to Timothy, then I figure he likely didn't view his two statements as contradictory.

And what about those 'mainline' denominations that so readily accept women in the pulpit and in the leadership? Little more than museums to religious wishful thinking.


susanna in alabama said...

Hey, didn't you know that Paul hated women? He's the one keeping women down, after all these years.

Yes, yes, he was specifically chosen by Jesus as an apostle after Jesus reascended to heaven. And yes, the Bible is the inspired word of God. But apparently the Godhead couldn't keep Paul's innate misogyny out of the Scripture. Because it couldn't be that God wanted those passages in there and to mean just what they say.

Right? Right?

Joel said...

"...longstanding limits, preferences and prejudices within their denominations that keep them from leading bigger congregations and having the opportunity to shape the faith of more people."

Huh? The writer of the article might well have just said, "More people would come to greater faith if God would only let us do what we want to do - our will be done, not thine!"

Also, he states that there are conflicting interpretations on the role of women, as if that's enough proof to show that both men and women share every role and function. Ugh!