Visit our new site at

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Extra: On the Struggles of Clergy Women

Carol Howard Merritt
Lia Scholl

RevGalBlogPal ring members Carol Howard Merritt and Lia Scholl would like our help.

They write: We are working on a writing piece together, potentially a book. It will be a practical guide about the struggles women face in pastoral ministry and an exploration on why and how women are leaving. We believe that it’s an important time for women to be in solidarity with one another as we face down the stained glass ceiling, that is so much more than just a lack of promotions. Women are in a battle for our voices, for our rights, and for our bodies.

We know that telling the truth in your pastoral setting is not always in your best interest. Telling the truth can result in job loss, difficulty in your ecclesial bodies, snubbing, and even violence. Therefore, your answers to these questions are confidential. If we use them in the book, we will change the details and your name, to ensure that you are not recognizable. Although we would like to know your name and contact information, for follow up, it is not required.

As you look at the questions, you do not have to answer them all. Please answer the questions about which you feel most passionate. We would particularly love to hear your stories. Please include your name (please put anonymous, if you need to) and preferred contact information.

When did you feel called to ministry? What was your calling like?

How did you prepare for ministry? Did you attend seminary? Are there other specializations you acquired?

What obstacles did you overcome to train for ministry?

Where have you served and in what capacity? What were the challenges you faced? What were the positives?

How many years have you been serving (or did you serve)?
Where are you serving now?

What was your favorite part of ministry? Your least favorite part?

What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?

How has your gender affected your ministry? Both positives and negatives...

Has your race and/or ethnicity affected your ministry? How?

Has your sexual orientation affected your ministry? How?

Have you faced obstacles among your family of origin or your created family?

If you have served as an Associate Pastor, an Assistant Pastor, or a Director of Christian Education, did you feel that there were gender inequities inherent in the role? What were they?

Is there a network of mentoring and support (like an “old boys network”) upon which you have learned to rely? Where have you found that network?

How do you feel about negotiating salary, benefits, administrative assistance and office space?

Has being a minister affected your intimate relationships? How?

If you are no longer in church ministry, or pastoral ministry, why?

If you have considered leaving pastoral ministry, why?

What piece of advice would you like to give to women entering the ministry?

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

Email your responses to Carol and Lia at by September 15th. Thanks!


  1. and, they would like these by a certain date?

  2. you missed one question, sisters, I think, re the call to ordination: (I borrowed it from F Buechner) "And was this your own idea, or were you badly advised?" ;-) Blessings and good fortune to your project!

  3. They would love to have submissions by September 15th. I've added the date to the post. Thanks for asking, Terri.

  4. Copying and pasting into Word now

  5. will email my answer. I think this sounds like a very timely project.

  6. Great questions! I"m totally doing this!

  7. What Amy+ said. Can't answer these properly for a few days, but I will do so. VERY thought provoking questions.

  8. Great questions! I would love to help. I will also answer via email.

    I just read, LOVED, and posted about Carol's book Tribal Church on my blog. As an international church in Munich, Germany, I found the book so amazingly helpful and relevant. (Not that my gushing is relevant to this current post though, sorry :))


You don't want to comment here; instead, come visit our new blog, We'll see you there!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.