New E-book Features Women Pastors 'Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling'
The collection of essays in "Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling: Women Pastoring Large Churches" were all written by women who have served as lead pastors in United Methodist churches with 1,000 or more members.
Published by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and edited by the Revs. HiRho Park and Susan Willhauck, the book offers a frank assessment of the opportunities and obstacles in church leadership for women.
"These trailblazers' stories are intriguing and full of wisdom, passion, and grace as they strive to perform top-level executive leadership while at the same time juggling spirituality, work, family, and their personal life," Park said. "I hope their experiences will shed light on a new paradigm of ministry leadership and inform the future pedagogical practice of theological education."
The essays are accompanied by study data from the Lead Women Pastors Project, carried out by Park, GBHEM's director of Clergy Lifelong Learning, and Willhauck, associate professor of Pastoral Theology at Atlantic School of Theology.
Among the study's intriguing findings: the denomination's 100 largest churches are still led by male clergy with one exception - Glide Memorial UMC; women clergy serve more preliminary appointments than men before leading a large congregation; and large churches led by women report higher membership numbers and worship attendance.
Willhauck said the essay collection is an extension of the work begun by the Lead Women Pastors Project in 2008.
"Through interviews, a survey, retreats, and online dialogues, we learned how women are leading big churches in increasing numbers with grace and aplomb, setting an example for pastoral leadership in The United Methodist Church, indeed shattering the glass ceiling," Willhauck said.
Bishop Violet L. Fisher (retired) praised the book's use of qualitative research to support the insights of the essayists.
"There are many books on leadership, but few address it from the lead women pastor experience or as simply and critically," Fisher said. "This work is the beginning of needed conversations."