The Only Woman in the Room

Mad-Men-meetingI attend a lot of church-related meetings. But during one of yesterday’s four meetings,  in a conference room with 13 other people, something occurred to me:

I was the only woman in the room.

Women were first ordained in my denomination in 1956.  While 28% of all mainline Protestant churches in the United States have women pastors, almost half of all active clergy in my denomination are female.  More than half of the candidates for ordination are women.

In every church meeting I attend, at least half the participants are women.  Often there are more women in the room than men, but in yesterday’s meeting there was only one woman:  me.

Anybody want to guess what the meeting was and why I was the only woman present?

I’ll share the answer at the end of the day today.

Postscript: My meeting was with pastors who fall on the more conservative side regarding issues facing our denomination – including the possibility of our General Assembly approving GBLTQ marriage in 2014.  Although there are certainly some clergywomen in our denomination who are against GBLTQ marriage, most of those opposed seem to be men.  I’ve always wondered if we – clergywomen – are often more open to such changes because we know what it’s like when Scripture is used to forbid our leadership.  Most mainline Protestants interpret Scripture using hermeneutical techniques (historical, cultural, contextual, lexical analysis) that understand God’s Word differently than those who point to certain passages that “prove” what they believe about women and homosexuality.  

Image source.

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21 responses to “The Only Woman in the Room

  1. A gathering of the head of staff pastors?

  2. I was gonna say stewardship/finance committee of presbytery.

  3. Charlotte Lohrenz

    The last time I was the only woman in a room of pastors, we were discussing response to sexual misconduct. This was no more than six years ago.

  4. I like MaryAnn’s answer first, but my second guess would be the Committee on Representation.

  5. Sexual misconduct training/healthy Boundaries and you were teaching?

  6. I like Alex’s and MaryAnn’s responses. I’ll go with retired ministers.

  7. My mind went to trustees. In some churches it could also be “building and grounds.”

  8. Hi Jan! I saw you grabbed that image from my site and wanted to say hi :). How did you find it?

    My mom is a minister so I’m curious what the answer will be even though I don’t have any experience running a church! I’m going to guess that the meeting was something about the church’s stance on a marriage issue?

  9. Ministerial Group in a rural community of the midwest?

  10. Something to do with money?

  11. And when I was in my previous church, I served on an AC for sexual misconduct and was the only woman in a group of 4.

  12. Ahhhhhhh isn’t it enough to have to wait to find out what happens to Walter White??????? now this!!!!!

  13. Hmmmm… My other comment is off in the nether world, I guess…

    I hear a lot of lip service given in some quarters (emergent, contemporary, missional churches, whatever their label) given to “the women leaders on our team” and so on. Rarely are they preaching or teaching humans over the age of 12. Even more rarely are they he “lead pastor” (aka senior minister)nor church planter/founding pastor, though thankfully the world is full of exceptions in the land of RevGals.

    So I guess it does not surprise me that in another place of inequality! women are at the forefront, speaking up for those who have been left voiceless…

    May we wreck this stereotype once and for all in my children’s generation!!! And may we make headway and do some amazing foundational work in the meantime!

  14. Jan, that’s a fascinating postscript. The thing that has been so heartbreaking for Kathryn here in South Central PA is the number of women who came from denominations that would not ordain them who are now leading churches out of the PCUSA over the ordination of LGBT people.

  15. Sigh. That didn’t occur to me, but it doesn’t surprise me either. Blessings on you for such meetings.

  16. The thing about women would not be true here in Southern California. I was so shocked about that when I moved from growing up in Chicago Presbytery (Clarendon Hills) and then from the Synod of the Northeast. I couldn’t believe it at first. It is the reality in which I live and pastor a church in however.

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