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Did you know that only 10% of the senior level Christian pulpits in America are led by women? In the Reformed Church in America, of our non-vacant churches (905 churches), there are 82 women Senior Ministers and 759 men who are Senior Ministers (this includes non-RCA pastors from our Formula of Agreement churches). There are 12 Associate Pastors that are women and 55 that are men in the RCA. Of our 905 non-vacant churches, 8% of Senior Pastorates are led by women and 1% of the Associate Pastorates are led by women. This data does not include specialized ministers. The RCA, along with our Christian family in the USA, have much work to do for gender equality in ministry leadership. In celebration of Women’s History Month, on my Twitter I am honoring religious, and spiritual women, who have been leaders of faith. Each day I am tweeting a picture with a brief description about who they are and why they are significant.
As the saying goes, we stand on the shoulders of giants who have paved the way before us: Women who have spoken out when they were told it wasn’t their place, women who have courageously followed God’s call to ordained ministry even when that option wasn’t available, women who believed the promises of baptism meant that God was calling them to forge a new way forward. With the work we have yet to do, I want to celebrate the women who have come before us who have taught us how to lead, think theologically, and care for the people of God. You are welcome to join me in the conversation on Twitter (@jeskastkeat).
There are a couple women I want to honor here who have been formative in my life and the life of the Reformed Church in America.
I begin with our RCA history in honoring The Reverend Joyce Stedge-Fowler who was the first woman to be ordained in the RCA in 1973. I think of her this Women’s History month and thank God for her witness as she opened up the doors for women to lead and minister in the Reformed Church in America.
Saint Phoebe has always grabbed my attention. I’ve always been struck with Romans 16 and the weight of responsibility and accolades that was given to Phoebe by Paul. A minister in the church of Cenchreae who was charged with delivering the the letter to the Romans. God ministered to me through Phoebe when I was a middle school student contemplating if there was room for me in the church to be a minister or not. Phoebe has been important to me in my call journey.
As I think about women who have come before, women who are here doing the work now, and the women who will come after me I pause to celebrate their leadership and thank God for the witness of these women who led the people of God in Scripture and women who are leading the people of God today.
What about you? Who are the women who have led you and formed your religious identity? Who are you thanking God for this month?
(***A big thank you to Jennifer VanderMolen for the statistical help in regards to the RCA congregations!)
Jes! I love how you think. One thing that inspires me is the RCA’s (albeit fairly new) Commission for women. It inspired me when I did a bit of digging in the CRC a few months ago too. The overall history was grim but the classis I’m in is history in the making! In case any of your readers are interested or missed it – if was published for YALT (and a few other places): http://yalt.crcna.org/good-news-for-women-in-ministry/
And I love how you think and are moving and shaking things up, too! I read your excellent piece. Did I read that wrong, 2007 was the first year that women were allowed to be delegates your Synod? Thank you for your work and witness, Jane!
Love this Jes . . . THANKyou
And thank YOU, Reverend, for your early work and witness in our denomination!