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Along the Journey  |  

Supporting Clergywomen: Now and Beyond

Eileen Campbell-Reed’s 2018 report, the State of Clergywomen in the U.S., revealed that roles for clergywomen in the U.S. have steadily expanded since the 1970s[1].

However, the growing presence of clergywomen has not eliminated the timeless struggles women face collectively when compared to their male counterparts, such as equal pay and the expectations of caregiving—something COVID-19 has particularly exacerbated for women.

Here’s a brief list of collective wisdom on how churches can support clergywomen today and beyond.

“I want to name advocating for fair and equal wages. Women are still paid less than men and it happens more often in church contexts. I spent most of my Ministry days fighting for equal and fair wages for women clergy.”

Dr. Sue Kim Park
Associate Dean, Contextual Education and International Partnerships

“One way to support clergywomen is to make sure that they have policies providing for adequate family leave (including maternity leave), child care, and support for the family care that women often assume disproportionately as compared to men. Clergywomen often carry responsibilities for childbearing, child care, family oversight, and care of aging parents in a way that can be invisible. Churches can help put policies in place and recognize women’s uncompensated (unseen) labor in addition to pastoral responsibilities.”

-Dr. Martha L. Moore-Keish
J.B. Green Professor of Theology
Christine Roy Yoder

“We can support clergywomen by volunteering to help with seen and unseen responsibilities related to worship and the church’s ministry throughout the week. We can pay attention to requests for assistance and respond generously when we are able. We can watch for ways to lend a hand. We can anticipate rather than wait and require our pastor to tell us what is needed.”

Dr. Christine Roy Yoder
Senior Vice President and Dean of Faculty; J. McDowell Richards Professor of Biblical Interpretation

“If your faith community doesn’t have a woman in a clergy role, bring some young girls to hear some women preachers. Invite women clergy to meet your youth group. The more our girls and young women (and all young people, actually) meet and interact with women in a clergy role, the more they can imagine themselves in that role as well. Embodiment stirs the heart, mind, and soul!”

Dr. Anna Carter Florence
Peter Marshall Professor of Preaching

“One of the harsh realities made more evident during the pandemic was the disproportionate responsibility women have for the work of caregiving in our communities. This is doubly true for women in professions like ministry that emphasize these duties. But caregiving isn’t just a task performed by a designated individual.  Rather, the healthiest communities are ones in which people recognize the responsibility for mutual care, seeing the well-being of their leader as integral to the well-being of the members.   So check in with your women clergy.  Make sure they have the support and opportunities they need to be well.  Make sure their Sabbath time is honored and they have chances to renew themselves and their senses of call.  Extending care to them ensures their ability to oversee communities in which all members – including leadership – can flourish.”

Helen Blier, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Lifelong Learning

What words of wisdom would you add to the list for Women’s History Month? Let’s keep women and clergywomen at the forefront today and beyond by remembering to address their unseen struggles, rallying for equal and fair wages, setting abundant examples for younger women and girls, and encouraging rest.

[1] Campbell-Reed, Eileen, director. State of Clergywomen in the U.S.: A Statistical Update. Elieen Campell-Reed, 2018, Pg 6. https://eileencampbellreed.org/state-of-clergy/.

Along the Journey