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Five reasons you need a female rector

Five reasons you need a female rector

Christian Piatt writes at On Faith:

My wife has been a senior pastor for the past 10 years. In that time, I’ve seen plenty of situations in which her gender worked against her. There was the man at the church where she guest-preached who, with a straight face, told her she did a pretty good job “for a girl.”

There were the times when people got up and walked out when she took the pulpit to preach. There was even one man who left the church because he couldn’t watch her preach without fantasizing about her having sex because she was visibly pregnant.

In comparison to their male counterparts, female pastors have limited opportunities and face serious pay discrepancies. Never mind that half of people in mainline seminaries today are women – so if many churches are to survive in the future, it may be with a woman at the helm. But too many congregations are not willing to accept this reality.

There are some real advantages a female leader can bring to a congregation that most — if not all — men lack. I don’t mean this in a sycophantic “girls rule, boys drool” kind of way. There are some key characteristics women possess that are much needed in many of our churches today.

Read his list and come on back and talk about it. What do you see as the advantages or disadvantages of having a female rector? Or do you think the sex of the rector is unimportant?


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Fr. Ethan Jewett

This article reminded me of an excellent book I read a few years ago on this topic: A Church of Her Own: What Happens When a Woman Takes the Pulpit by Sarah Sentilles. I highly recommend it.

BrotherTom Hudson

And yet, there are many Christians who seem to be retreating to the place where women cannot even hold teaching positions. I believe this link was in an earlier post:

Elizabeth Kaeton

Well . . . wait. Not so fast.

There’s a song we used to sing, back in the day, about the work of justice. One of the lines was, “… we’re talkin’ ’bout changes, not just changing the faces at the top.” To wit: Mrs. Thatcher, Ms. Rice, Mrs. Palin, Mrs. Bachmann. I’m sure you could add your own. The same is true with every minority demographic. Can you say Clarence Thomas? Or, Herman Cain? It’s no doubt my own intellectual dullness, but for the life of me, I’ll never understand how any LGBT person can be a member of the Log Cabin Republicans.

It’s not any different in the church, and why should we expect it to be? I’ve known – and know – women who are rectors who make my hair stand on end. One woman is affectionately known as ‘Mother Ironpants’, which suits her just fine, thank you very much. She can silence a Vestry filled with corporate suits with a side glance. The word “change” is anathema to her.

So, while I applaud the intent of the article and hope that it might be uniformly so, it is far to simplistic to have any basis in the present reality.

That having been said, my favorite story is about Bishop Barbara Harris who says that one time, when she was doing an episcopal visitation, she noted a young boy standing up on the back pew with his father, waving to her madly as she was about to process into the church. After the service, the boy’s father approached Bishop Barbara and said that his son had turned to him as the procession made its way to the altar and said, “Gee, Dad, can boys be bishops someday, too?”

That’s really how change happens.


I think having women pastors/priests is very important, ie, we should *not* be “gender blind”. The message a woman sends by her very presence in the pulpit and at the altar is enormous, both to the congregation, the congregation’s children, and the community at large, relative to their intrinsic value as human beings and daughters of God. And then there is the vast skill set that 50% of humanity brings to the job… Jeez-oh, I’m not sure how we could begin to list all the gifts women bring to the ministry. It befuddles me that, at one time, there was a problem about it, and mystified that there still is. It’s like running across someone who belongs to The Flat Earth Society.

Kevin McGrane

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