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This columnThe Status of Women In Church and Society” is a repost from the Feminist Studies in Religion website.  It was originally posted by Kate Ott on Nov 4, 2012.

The following blog series are contributions from the panel on the status of women in church and society held at the September 2012 Social Ethics Network (SEN) meeting of the Presbyterian Church, USA.

A group of five panelists were gathered by Rebecca Todd Peters of Elon University and Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty of Bellarmine University.  Those who were able have contributed their throughts to the Feminism in Religion Forum.  Participants were asked to consider some of the following issues as raising critical questions for the status of women in church and society:

* The assault on women’s health care and reproductive rights in the U.S. and the push within the PCUSA to change denominational policy.

* Recent comments made by Todd Akin regarding “legitimate rape” and the underlying assumptions about women.

*  Changing norms for women’s leadership in church and society and the assumption in the PCUSA that women clergy can “rise to the top” to enter pulpits in tall steeple churches. (Only 4.7% of head of staff positions in the   largest churches in our denomination are filled by women. This is problematic, but a deeper issue relates to the assumption that all clergy should see “rising to the top” as the goal of their ministry.)

* Changing norms for career paths for dual clergy couples (climbing the lattice vs. climbing the ladder).

* The “death” of the liberal church and institutional structures designed to advocate for women, people of color, etc. and the implications for continued advocacy work.

* Shifts in the population are challenging the historical assumption that the majority of U.S. citizens identify with whiteness.  Immigrants today are coming primarily from Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The largest numbers of immigrants to the U.S. are Hispanic and Latino/a; a slight majority are women.  As a denomination, many are aware of these changing demographics, but the PCUSA is neglecting to pay careful attention to the intersection of race and gender.

Rather than plan a traditional panel, each participant posed a question.  Grace Ji-Sun Kim is the first to blog on her question relating to immigration and women in the church.  Others will follow!

What questions do you have about the status of women in church and society?

(for more information about the Social Ethics Network meeting, click here).


Grace Ji-Sun Kim is Associate Professor of Doctrinal Theology and the Director of the MATS program at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She is the author of The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other: A Model of Global and Intercultural Pneumatology (Palgrave Macmillan) and The Grace of Sophia: A Korean North American Women’s Christology (Pilgrim Press).