Women clergy: Steps forward and back

Polarization of liberal and conservative groups noted
As women in mainline Protestant denominations rejoice over decades of ordination—United Methodists and Presbyterians this year celebrated 50 years of women ministers and Episcopalians the 30th anniversary of women priests—conservatives continue to argue that the pulpit is not an appropriate place for them.

Many took pride in recent landmark choices for prominent leadership roles for ordained female clergy; namely, Sharon Watkins, who was elected president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who will be consecrated November 4 as the first woman presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Adair Lummis, a sociologist of religion and an expert on women clergy at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, applauds the new steps by mainline Protestant churches. But she offers a “don’t just relax” caution.


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