In the final installment of this two-part series, PhillyVoice explores the journey of two women in leadership positions at Wells Fargo and Independence Blue Cross, and at their churches as women in the pulpit. Discover the first part of their journey here.
For women who aspire to lead congregations, the stained glass ceiling has historically served as the very floor on which men stand firmly planted behind the pulpit.
The National Congregations Study released in December 2015 reported that while there’s more ethnic diversity among America’s solo and senior pastoral leaders, there has been relatively no change in the number of women in pastoral leadership in 18 years. When Mark Chaves, a Professor of Sociology, Religious Studies, and Divinity at Duke University, first directed and published the study it was the first of its kind.
“There really was a need to just have some basic information about the state of American congregations,” Chaves said. “So this is really kind of taking the pulse of congregations since 1998 on a variety of subjects including this one.”
The study, based on three nationally representative surveys conducted in 1998, 2006 and 2012, found that women hold senior or solo pastoral leadership positions in only 11 percent of congregations. The most recent findings reveal that women serve as solo or senior pastoral leaders at a rate of three percent in both Catholic and Evangelical congregations (i.e. Southern Baptists, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Lutheran Church, etc.); 10 percent in Jewish/Conservative Reform congregations; 16 in Black Protestant congregations; and 20 percent Mainline Protestant (i.e. United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, Episcopal Church, etc.) congregations.
Reverend Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake, President of Independence Blue Cross Foundation and associate minister at Vine Memorial Baptist Church, ran from her calling for nearly 20 years, in part because of this stained glass ceiling.
“I still don’t think there’s a total comfort level, especially in the Baptist church, with women in the pulpit,” said Rev. Marshall-Blake.
“My own pastor had to do a complete turnaround.”
Read the full story here.
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