Women Priests will save the church

by Richard on November 29, 2006

According to research sponsored by the Economic & Social Research Council at Manchester University, women priests will “save the church from sinking”.

Dr David Voas, a senior researcher at the university’s School of Social Sciences said: “Nearly half of all priests ordained in recent years have been women. Close to a quarter of male parish priests are 60 or older, and their average age is 54. Without women, the pulpits would become as de-populated as the pews in the years to come.”

But despite the crucial role they are playing as clergy, it seems that the church’s ‘glass ceiling’ is proving very robust.

“Most of the men who became priests in 2005 went into paid, ‘stipendiary’ ministry, while most of the women are in voluntary posts – ‘non-stipendiary or ‘ordained local ministers’.” And Dr Voas points out that the Anglican Church is not alone in giving women the least desirable jobs.

He said: “Well over half of women ministers in all denominations serve in rural areas, with very few found in the flagship city centre churches. The larger the church, the more likely it is that a man will be put in charge.”

The English Church Census found no women at all leading churches in the largest category - those with 300 or more attending on a typical Sunday. “Holy Trinity Brompton - home of the Alpha course - is an example: it has eight clergy, all of them male.” Churches are traditional institutions, and tradition gives women a raw deal, according to Dr Voas.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Kim 11.29.06 at 12:20 pm

So that’s why the Alpha Course is centred around a meal. It’s not only because if you give people a plate of pasta and a profiterole they will believe almost anything, it’s so that the men can get on with the teaching while the Marthas are doing the cooking and washing up.

2

Pam 11.29.06 at 5:36 pm

I was going to reply that I’d spent the last 20 years in senior management in industry and that the sexism I’ve encountered in the Church is significant compared to my “secular” experience. But I guess Kim’s post just proves the point, really! :-0

(Whilst I suspect that Kim’s remark is facetious, my own is serious.)

3

Kim 11.29.06 at 6:20 pm

Hi Pam.

Don’t you know me yet? My comment is not merely facetious, it is meant to be highly critical of sexism anywhere it is found, but particularly in the church, and especially when any theological justification of it is tendered, e.g. the headship humbug so popular in evangelicalism.

Women - no sense of humour! :)

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