Women in Ministry: Where do they fit?

It is about time more articles are being written surrounding the treatment of  Christian women serving in ministry leadership roles within the black church.  While most male pastors and bishops  cannot deny the fact  that women are definitely the work horses of their ministries,  many times, pastors overlook the fact that these same women  are capable of being more than just church workers, women can in fact, LEAD.  special shout out to Mashaun D. Simon over at thegrio.com, for  writing a very enlightening article:

By Mashaun D. Simon

It is said that women have been the sleeping giants of the black church from the very beginning.

And while that may be true, women leaders in the church still face some setbacks; even in denominations where ordination is obtainable.

Lemora Dobbs, senior pastor of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal church in Canton, GA has a few memories of situations she has faced in her years as an elder and pastor.

“There are some churches who do not want a female pastor. And it is 2011,” she said. “I am the first female to be appointed to St. Paul.”

When some think of a pastor, they think of a male, said Dobbs. She recalls an experience where she had to officiate a funeral. When she arrived organizers were looking for the minister not realizing the “he” they were looking for was actually “she.”

“They were looking for a male minister,” she said. “The same thing happened once at a wedding. They tried to seat me with the guests.”

According to the 2006 US Federal Labor Statistics, one in every eight clergy members is female.

“There have been some major strides,” said Dobbs. “Yet, there is still much work to be done.”

One of the major strides for the AME Church occurred in 2000, when Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie was elected the first ever female bishop of the denomination. She serves in the 13th district. And Women in Ministry (WIM) in the AME Church, an organization of women leaders and ministers in the AME Church, reports there are more than 3,000 women in ministry within the AME Church worldwide. Today there are a total of three female AME bishops.

The same cannot easily be said about other denominations like Church of God in Christ and Baptist. Both denominations have a reputation for being more patriarchal and hierarchical, said Larry Mamiya, professor of Religion and Africana Studies at Vassar College.

These denominations, as a whole, believe the role of pastor is limited to only men. However, women are licensed to preach as evangelists or missionaries. Read More

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