Protestant Pulpits See Female Inroads

September 19, 2009

Author: Tim Townsend

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In the history of their struggle to lead organizations, women have met many of the same challenges in churches as they have in business or government: lower pay than men, mistrust in their capabilities and the need to juggle professional and family lives.

"I think that in the church, just like the secular culture, it's harder for women to get those senior pastor jobs," said the Rev. Annie Epling, pastor of Faith Des Peres Presbyterian Church. "Just like it's hard for a woman to land a CEO position."

But a study released this week by the the Barna Group, a Christian research organization, says female clergy are making "slow but steady" progress in church leadership.

In 1999, according to Barna, just 5 percent of Protestant churches' senior pastors were women. This year, the study surveyed 604 pastors throughout the country and found that women now make up 10 percent of U.S. pastors.