More Presbyterian Women Ordained Ministers than Men 2007-2016

August 3, 2018 by Lee Hinson-Hasty

Although there are three times as many men currently serving as congregational minsters than women, the tide is turning as more Presbyterian women were ordained from 2007-2016. This seems like a long time coming since 1994 is the first year there were more women candidates for ministry than men and every year since 1999. I’d have to dive deeper into the numbers, but my guess is women stay candidates longer on average.

A must-read for those of us interested in pastoral leadership in the PC(USA) and supporting our future ministers is the Board of Pensions July 1, 2018 guide to structuring minister’s terms of call they call “Living by the Gospel.” Among a wealth of resources and findings in this guide, gender disparity is named clearly.

Over the last 10 years, there has been a distinct gender disparity as to the provision of benefits in PC(USA). Women outnumber men ordained, 1,597 to 1,503, but men have obtained benefits at a far greater rate—77 percent to 62 percent. Although there are areas of progress, the gender distinction in compensation is clear, as the salary study in the appendices of this document shows. While the Board cannot know the individual circumstances and choices of those seeking a call, the overall pattern cannot be ignored. It is therefore incumbent on Committees on Ministry to embrace a goal of gender equity in reviewing and approving terms of call for all ministers.

The Association of Theological Schools 2016 “How (American and Canadian Seminary) Graduates are Faring” ecumenically makes a parallel observation:

Female students were less likely to have been offered a job at graduation (42%) than were male students (32%). Among those seeking placement, those most likely to have been offered positions were International (50%), Asian/Pacific Islander (50%), and Native North American/First Nation (62%) graduates. Those least likely to have been offered a position were Hispanic/Latino(a) (57%) and Black/Non-Hispanic (66%) graduates.

Race along with gender, you see, play a role.

Evelyn Hwang, former Associate for Preparation for Ministry, served the national church for almost 50 years. I was privileged to serve alongside Evelyn for the last five before her retirement and received reports she produced on inquirers and candidates for ministry of Word and Sacrament for the Committee on Theological Education that I still serve. She monitored women in ministry issues closely and still, when I called her today, has a passion for supporting them. She asked, for example, “Lee, you and others need to be tracking how many women are head of staff.”

She’s right. We need to be tracking women in ministry and, I will add, supporting them.

Lee Hinson-Hasty with Lindsay Conrad

The Rev. Lindsay Conrad, Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Burlington, N.C. and former pastoral resident at First Presbyterian in Ann Arbor, MI honored me by inviting me to preach for her ordination service five years ago. Lindsay and I met where I was ordained, Presbytery of the Peaks and Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, VA. She was in the youth group I led alongside parents and older youth. I co-taught her confirmation class with the other pastor, J. Kenneth Rogers. I stay in touch still with Lindsay and she stays I touch with me. When I preached in June in Chapel Hill, we met up afterwards for coffee and conversation.

I wonder….

What women in ministry are you supporting and how? How are women in ministry supporting you?