A mother and a pastor

A mother and a pastor August 5, 2017


Today, the article you should read is over at Christianity Today, called “The Pay Gap is Worse for Pastor-Moms” by Kate Shellnutt.

First of all, as someone who just survived an hour’s webinar with 15 evangelical male clergy (I will sometimes cop to being evangelical, but am absolutely not male) who kept repeatedly referring to all other pastors as “guys,” I am thrilled to death that CT put up such an article.

Secondly, they make really good points about why churches underpay female pastors with children, some of which include:

  • considering the woman’s income to always be the supplemental one
  • assuming women always want to work part time because of their children
  • thinking women are unqualified for pastoral roles because they have kids (this is pretty much a direct quote, if you don’t believe me)
  • steering women towards often lower-paid positions in worship, children’s and youth ministry, and Christian education

All of it rang true. My pastoral position is part-time by choice because I already have a full-time job doing something else (actually, a number of something elses: the main two are here and here. Remind me that I need to write a post about the gig economy sometime really soon.)

But the experiences cited by the various pastor-moms ring true: things like being steered towards Christian ed (for which I am neither gifted nor called), having people always assume your husband is the pastor (my husband is not even ordained), being mistaken for the administrative assistant, and being unmistakenly maternal in clericals. (My nursing days fell in between my two stints as an ordained person, but for some reason the schedule seems to dictate that I always show up at my kids’ dance events in a collar.)

Go read Kate Shellnutt’s good words, and think about something you can do today to make it easier on a mom in paid ministry (what, in the Episcopal tradition, I am fond of calling a “Mother mother.”)

Image: Personal copy. (And, by the way, go read Sarah Conrad Sours’ excellent post on how hard it is to find a copy of women doing anything professional. I will add that when I Googled “female clergy” I got pictures of nuns, male clergy, Vladimir Putin, and the Dalai Lama.)

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