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Racial, ethnic clergywomen to explore gains, barriers

By Vicki Brown*
Aug. 5, 2007 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)

A gathering of racial-ethnic clergywomen will celebrate the gains they have made in The United Methodist Church and address challenges they still face during a Jan. 3-5 conference in Los Angeles.

 
The Rev. HiRho Park

The consultation, "Rising From Our Common Ground," follows up on the findings of the 2004 study of the status of racial-ethnic clergywomen in the denomination, according to the Rev. HiRho Park, an executive with the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The board sponsored the study.

"The study found that racial-ethnic clergywomen experience no substantive support from the denomination, struggle with lack of opportunities for appointments and visible leadership roles, and receive salaries that are lower than those of their male and female European-American peers and their male racial-ethnic peers," Park said.

"The Status of Racial-Ethnic Minority Clergywomen In The United Methodist Church" study also found that racial-ethnic clergywomen feel a lack of support from the denomination and that "they pay an unexpectedly high price for being faithful to the call," according to the study's authors.

One of the Seven Vision Pathways set by the denomination's Council of Bishops is to expand racial-ethnic ministries in the United States and Park said the consultation will address that issue.

Other goals of the consultation include:

  • Affirming the ministries of racial-ethnic clergywomen and their leadership in the church.
  • Engaging in dialogue among racial-ethnic clergywomen and seeking strategies to reinforce actions for change.
  • Theologizing and articulating the experiences of racial-ethnic clergywomen.
  • Sensitizing the church to racial/ethnic clergywomen's issues. 

The last gathering of racial-ethnic United Methodist clergywomen was held in 1982. There are more than 1,000 active racial-ethnic clergywomen in The United Methodist Church today.

“The study found that racial-ethnic clergywomen experience no substantive support from the denomination, struggle with lack of opportunities for appointments and visible leadership roles, and receive salaries that are lower than those of their male and female European-American peers and their male racial-ethnic peers.”–The Rev. HiRho Park

"This event is more significant since our denomination celebrated the 50th anniversary of clergy rights for women in the Methodist tradition in 2006," Park said. "It is time for us to seriously reinforce actions for change."

Julienne Melveaux, president of Bennett College for Women, one of the 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges, will be the banquet speaker. Melveaux is an economist and will discuss economic issues related to racial-ethnic women and children, including immigrants. Bishop Minerva Carcaño will preach at the opening worship service and Bishop Linda Lee will preach the closing sermon.

One session will address networking, solidarity and accountability related to future racial-ethnic clergywomen's leadership in the church. Representatives from church agencies and the Council of Bishops have been invited to attend.

To learn more about the Racial-Ethnic Clergywomen's Consultation or to register, visit www.gbhem.org/recc .

To read the 2004 study, visit www.gbhem.org/ResourceLibrary/RacialEthnicCWStudy.pdf .

*Brown is an associate editor and writer in the Office of Interpretation, United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org .

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Resources

United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry

Status of Racial and Ethnic Minority Clergywomen

Racial Ethnic Clergywomen's Consultation

Women of Color

United Methodist Clergywomen

The Study of Ministry


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