Vancouver journalist, Doug Todd, called me the other day to ask about women in ordered ministry in the United Church of Canada.
I had served on a task group that had examined clergy demographics and knew that the female / male ratio had recently become slightly more women than men, ie., 51-49.
I couldn't recall the exact figures, but with roughly 50% of all active clergy over the age of 55 - and therefore due to retire in the next 10 years - this ratio would become higher as roughly 80% of retirees were male, and 80% of new ministers were female.
The conversation went on to wonder how women were doing in ministry - not just personally - but in the collective consciousness and life of the United Church. That's a tougher question to answer.
But it got us wondering how many women are the senior / lead / coordinating minister in larger, multi-staff congregations?
I volunteered to do some research on the 25 United Church congregations with the highest reported average weekly attendance at worship. (That's Line 20 in The Year Book statistics. Two were tied for 25th, so I actually looked at 26 congregations.)
There were 3 cases where there were multiple staff of women and men, but position titles were not given.
Of the remaining 23, how many would you guess had a woman listed as the senior / lead / coordinating minister?
11 or 12 would be the expected answer, given the overall ratio of 51-49.
The actual answer is ... wait for it ... 1. That's right - one.
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