Thursday, 20 August 2009

Women in the City

A woman serving in a tough parish has returned from holiday to more broken windows in her church. Not long ago her car was broken into.

Frustrations she could do without, on top of all the demands of leading a church.

I've been reflecting on her situation, and the fact that in some tough areas most of the vicars are women. It's one of the emerging patterns that the Dean of Leicester, Viv Faull, noted in a lecture in 2006. But why should this be?

Recently, I found someone else who was asking the same questions. Juliet Kilpin, a Baptist minister, asks: 'Why are there proportionately more female ministers in the inner city than male ministers?' Click here to read the article, on the Baptist 'Mainstream' site. So this is clearly an issue for Baptists as well as for Anglicans.

Kilpin gives 4 options:

  • women have more guts than men

  • women are less worried about money than men

  • inner city churches are more liberal

  • inner city churches are more desperate

I wonder which one you would go for? Kilpin's paper is definitely worth reading, though from my own experience I would want to add 'outer estate' to 'inner city': many of the challenges are similar.

Ministry is about service, but it does sometimes seem puzzling to me that some tough parishes can be hard to fill, whereas clergy flock to apply to those in leafy suburbia.

In fact I guess this is the flip side of that other big question, why there are so few women larger churches? One answer might be that numbers of them, whether out of choice or necessity, are following a diffent path.

1 comment:

Kate Wharton said...

My whole ministry has been in UPAs. I have discussed this issue wtih friends at length & asked similar questions. My observation when speaking to married male friends at college was that they seemed to worry more about taking a wife & children to live in such areas than married women did. I'm single so can't comment but that's what I noticed! Also a colleague of mine suggested that men are often more interested in status & 'success' than women, & those things are often harder to define in UPA contexts...?