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Sunday, July 01, 2007

The State of Women in Baptist Life - 2006 Report

The State Of Women in Baptist Life 2006 commissioned by Baptist Women in Ministry was presented by Dr. Pamela Durso on Thursday.

Rob Marus of the ABP and Bob Allen of EthicsDaily.com covered the report.

But I would like to provide several tidbits of info and statistics from the 15-page report:

When it comes to women in ministry, the attitudes of moderate and progressive Baptists continue to outpace the reality of women's ordination, leadership, and service among Baptists. Although the novelty of women entering professions of law, medicine, and teaching has long since waned, ministry remains one of the last professions to be entered in any significant numbers by women. And while thousands of Baptist women in the North and South have received theological training and ordination for ministry, only about 600 women currently serve as pastors or co-pastors in Baptist churches in the United States. Women continue to be underepresented in the elected and paid leadership of Baptist agencies, but the fare better in ministry roles such as chaplaincy, counseling, church staff ministry and missionary service.

From the 2007 survey conducted by BWIM....

A vast majority (93%) of respondents reported that they support ordination for women, and nearly two-thirds of them noted that their churches have ordained women; yet, the role of pastor continues to remain nearly out of reach for Baptist women. At best, 6.2% of CBF churches and 9.1% of ABC-USA churches are pastored by women.

1,464 individuals complted the survey between March 4 and May 8, 2007. Respondents were asked to identify their primary Baptist affiliation, the largest of which was CBF (43%) followed by the SBC (20%), the BGCT (10%), ABC-USA (9%), Alliance of Baptists (5%), and the BGAV (3%). However, 68% chose CBF as either their primary affiliation or one of several affiliations. More than a third of respondents to the study (507 or 34%) identified themselves as Southern Baptist, either as their primary affiliation or one of several affiliations.

Agreed with the following statements:

According to your understanding of the Bible, does the possibility exist for women to serve in pastoral roles?
-SBC (85.8%), CBF (97.3%)

Do you approve of the ordination of women to the pastoral ministry?
-SBC (85.8%), CBF (97.3)

If a qualified woman were available for the pastorate of your Baptist church, would you be oepn to calling her? -SBC (78.49%), CBF (95.3%)

If an equally qualified man and woman were available for the pastorate of a given Baptist church, which would you honestly choose?
-Choose a Man (SBC - 31.7%), (CBF - 11.6%)
-Choose a Woman (SBC - 11.4%) (CBF - 24%)
-Unsure (SBC - 85.8%) (CBF - 64.4%)


Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

In 2006, CBF's fourteen seminaries, theology schools, and Baptist studies programs had a combined enrollment of nearly 2,100. The enrollment numbers for each of these schools, with the exceptions of the Baptist Houses of Study at Duke University, Emory University, and Texas Christian University, include all students, Baptist and non-Baptist, and include the numbers enrolled in all progressional degrees. The enrollment numbers for Duke, Emory, and TCU include only Baptist students.

Thus, in 2006, CBF schools had a total of 2,087 students, of which 806 were women (39%). These numbers reflect a slight increase from 2005, when the school had 1,999 total students with 752 women students (38%). The schools with the greatest increase in women students were Baptist Seminary in Kentucky (29% in 2005, 40% in 2006); Wake Forest University Divinity School (33% in 2005, 48% in 2006); and TCU's Brite Divinity School (23% in 2005, 32% in 2006)

American Baptist Churches, USA

In 2006, the ABC-USA had six theological institutions. The enrollment numbers for each of these schools include all students, Baptist and non-Baptist, and include the numbers enrolled in all professional degrees.

Thus in 2006, the six ABC-USA schools had a total of 1,536 students, of which 854 were women (56%). In 2005, only five ABC-USA schools provided enrollment information. That year, those schools enrolled 1.081 students, of which 615 were women (57%). Four of the five ABC-USA schools that reported enrollment in 2005 actually decreased one to three percentage points in female enrollment in 2006.

Southern Baptist Convention

In 2006, the SBC had six seminaries. Enrollment information for 2006 was obtained from only four of the seminaries. The enrollment numbers for each of these schools include all students, Baptists and non-Baptist, and include the numbers enrolled in all professional degrees.

Thus, in 2006, these four SBC schoolshad total of 6,407 students, of which 1,358 were women (21%). These numbers reflect an 8% increase in total enrollment of students but only a .3% increase in female enrollment from 2005, when these four schools had 5,925 students, of which 1,354 were women (23%). The percentage of female students at three of the SBC schools decreased in 2006. Golden Gate dropped from 27% in 2005 to 22% in 2006. Midwestern dropped from 21% in 2005 to 14% in 2006. Southern dropped from 18% in 2005 to 14% in 2006. ONLY Southwestern increased in female enrollment moving from 26% in 2005 to 27% in 2006.

Concluding Thoughts

Baptist attitudes about women in ministry have made revolutionary changes during this time. At the same time, more conservative Baptists have worked to keep traditional roles for women in place. Among moderate and progressive groups, attitudes continue to favor the expansion of women's roles in society and in the church, but those attitudes continue to outpace reality. Changes to the Baptist reality, however, seem to be on the horizon. Responses to the SWBL Survey challenged the conventional wisdom that Baptist churches are not ready for women's pastoral leadership.

As with the 2005 report, the compilation data, stories and analysis about the state of women in Baptist life presents a picture vivid in its diversity and vitality. It also paints a sobering tableau with its evidence of ongoing "professional marginality" which continues nearly fifty years after Bock's intial observation that women made up only a small percentage of total ministers and were not increasing substantially.

In order to expand the understanding of this 21st century situation, future reports need to examine more closely the experiences of clergywomen themselves and the settings where they serve. As a more comprehensive database of women is build, women serving in churches, mission settings, campuses and other institutions need to be polled for their experiences of minstry. Moving beyond the questions of ordination and calling to employment, compensation, advancement and the related challenges could enrich understanding of the state of women in Baptist life.



Blogger texasinafrica said...

Thanks for all the updates for those of us who couldn't make it to DC!

I'm intrigued by those SBC numbers on whether women can serve as pastors. Of course, the survey was a self-selected group of women in ministry, so it's not terribly scientific, but that's interesting nonetheless. Are there any raw numbers on how many women in the sample identified themselves as "SBC"?

12:54 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Definitely not scientific.

Only 25% of respondents were male. No breakdown on the SBC numbers.

I think this indicates that there are still some moderates left in the SBC - closeted they may be.

Take a look at the BP article on churches represented at the CBF - there are fundamentalist SBC congregations on that list. So, that indicates that even the most conservative Baptist church has at least a handful of suffering closeted moderates.

My hunch is that some of the respondents who identified with SBC are women faithful to the WMU. But the WMU doesn't fully explain the numbers.

3:08 PM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I notice the study doesn't cover the Alliance of Baptists--even though many of our churches are also aligned with either the CBF or ABC. Hey, I get it--we're small and we're perceived as "liberal" and the CBF is trying to keep that label (flung often by the SBC) from sticking to them. I get politics.
But my unscientific examination of Alliance churches (there are only 200!)shows about 40% with women as senior pastors(and that number would be higher if we included all who had EVER had women as senior pastors) and 65% with women on ministerial staff!

As a fundamentalist resurgence is also taking root in Canadian Baptist circles, some of them are exploring dual allignments with the Alliance of Baptists--so our small denomination, which already has trans-national ties through partnerships with progressive Baptist groups in Cuba (La Fraternidad Iglesias Bautistas de Cuba), Zimbabwe, and Burma, may now become officially transnational with congregations in Canada! And, in each place, we have women pastors.

4:11 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...


I didn't list any Alliance info in my excerpts but according to the report, 5% of the respondents identified themselves as Alliance (primary affiliation). Of the 447 ordained women who registered with the BWIM survey, 93 identified the Alliance as one of their affiliations.

Other excerpts from the report...

"Also, of the 255 women who registered on the bWIM Registry and who were ordained by Baptist churches that affiliate with the AB, BGAV, BGCT, CBF, and the SBC since 1997, at least 106 (42%) were students or graduates of the theological schools affiliated with CBF. Thus, a strong case may be made that the existence of the new moderate theological institutions has contributed to the marked increase in the ordination of women"

"In 2006, the Alliance (AB) had 115 affiliating congregations with 33 women pastors and co-pastors, which is 28% and is up from 22% in 2005. "

6:27 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

I don't know, I think WMU might explain those numbers. If there were only 10 SBC women who answered the survey, it's entirely possible. Either way, it's interesting. Thanks!

6:35 AM


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