Hosting the Eastern PA Conference’s Women in Professional Ministry (WiPM) for its annual “Advent Morning Apart” Dec. 9, Bishop Peggy Johnson closed with a devotion about Christmas and culture, and gave everyone a Polish Christmas Oplatki wafer. The gift, a sign of love and unity, was a perfect, tactile benediction to a morning of soul-tending fellowship.
About 40 members shared in that fellowship, enhanced by conversation, food, prayers and expressions of support for one another. The entire occasion was a gift to “help female clergy set aside time to tend to their own souls,” recalled the Rev. Jenny Sauerbrun.
As part of their Advent devotion, the clergywomen read The Manificat and centered their attention on a particular observation by author Madeline L’Engle: “This is the irrational season when love blooms bright and wild. Had Mary been filled with reason there’d have been no room for the child.”
“Trying to embrace Mary’s irrational delight and recognizing the importance of play to spirituality and relationships, we then spent time in small groups to construct imaginary churches out of various shaped marshmallows,” Sauerbrun reported. “The morning of fellowship was full of laughter, joy, prayer, and devotion.”
The group’s next gathering will be Feb. 3 at Sayers Memorial UMC, hosted by the Rev. Misty Fuller. Sauerbrun is co-convener of WiPM along with the Rev. Monica Guepet. The group exists “to support, encourage and advocate for women in professional ministry throughout the Eastern PA Conference.”
For many U.S. religious congregations, according to a new study, a woman still has no place in the pulpit. Even as U.S. congregations become more ethnically diverse, a new analysis of Duke University’s National Congregations Study shows that women hold only a small minority of those faith communities’ top leadership positions. Women serve as senior or solo pastoral leaders of just 11 percent of U.S. congregations — indicating essentially no overall increase from when the study was first done in 1998. “That’s one of the most surprising non-changes in our data,” said Mark Chaves, who directs the study. Learn more…