The Protestant Stained Glass Ceiling

Some sobering news for those seeking the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church.

After the stained glass ceiling is shattered, many ordained women find a second glass ceiling immediately behind it.

Such has been the fate of Protestant women worldwide, according to the reports given at a meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva this weekend. The WCC has 349 members, comprised mostly of Anglican, Protestant and Orthodox denominations. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member, but sends delegates to some of its committees.

Even the WCC itself is in need of a “gender policy,” according to council members. In 2009, its central committee complained of a lack of women in senior staff positions.

According to Reverend Gregor Henderson, former General Secretary of the WCC, it’s easier to state gender equality than it is to live it out. “The patriarchy is very resilient,” he admitted.

In the U.S., it is estimated that women make up twenty percent of lead or solo pastors. Of the pastors who earn the highest salaries--typically those who lead big congregations--only three percent are women. Studies also find that an inordinate number of ordained women fill supporting positions in Protestant congregations.

Most of these Protestant congregations have been ordaining women for over forty years.

Read the full story here on the blogs at Ekklesia and the Christian Century.

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