Sunday, November 04, 2007

NWAC - Mission or Misogyny

The vice-moderator of New Wineskins Association of Churches is a woman who is a pastor, and their Executive Coordinator is also a woman who is an elder. There were several female pastors I met there, as well as numerous female elders. The reason that you'll see more men in leadership within NWAC is because NWAC is all about congregations, not institutions. In the PCUSA, men outnumber women 5:1 in terms of call as pastors/co-pastors. Blame it on sexism if you like, but the truth is that women outnumber men in most "specialized ministries." NWAC isn't about schools, hospitals, or bureaucratic offices - it's about local congregations trying to follow Jesus. So when you see men outnumbering women there, it's a reflection of their mission, not misogyny.

John Shuck's statements are both libelous and inaccurate, and they reveal far more about him than they do about the NWAC.


Jon said...

"Blame it on sexism if you like, but the truth is that women outnumber men in most "specialized ministries.""

On the page you linked to, I didn't see a single category where women outnumber men. Was I misreading it?

Chris said...

Actually, I might have misread it. I was focused on the percentage column, but after going over it again, I'm not certain I understand how they are calculating the percentage. It can't be (as I initially assumed) percentage in a specific field of ministry.

Still, the larger criticism holds true: women are much more represented in specialized ministries than they are in congregational leadership.

Viola said...

I know of at least two excellent women pastors that were there. Rev. Nancy Duff and Rev. Rachel Hamburger are pastors at Roseville. Nancy Duff knows the Book of Order so well I sometimes think she knows it by memory. Also a friend who is not an active pastor but a counselor, Liz Shaw. Roseville Church also encourages many young people, helping them go through seminary. At least two I know of, one a friend, are women. John Shuck is either misinformed or a liar.

Jon said...

I think the confusion is that the percentages are given of respective gender totals. So all the men's positions add up to 100% and the same is true of women.

This means that women make up about 23% of pastors and associate pastors (i.e. installed positions), and about 30% of all clergy. Women are close to parity in one or two fields, especially in the "other" category.

To my mind, this disparity is at least partially due to congregations' sexism. I can tell you a half dozen women in my presbytery looking for work. They're very talented. It's possible that generally women are more geographically limited, or that they self-select for non-pastoral positions, but I don't think this is even a majority of the cases. I meet just as many men who want to be chaplains, professors or teachers as women, and just as many women as men who would gladly serve in parishes.

If New Wineskins is worried about this perception, their job is simple: poll their existing churches. If less than 30% of all clergy or 23% of the installed pastors are women, then this movement is objectively less inclusive of women's leadership. This shouldn't be hard to determine. Count and calculate and get back to us. (And we know quite clearly what the % of EPC churches is, right?)