Academic Programs 
      

 Women, Religion and the Future of USA Churches   (RS-661)
Winter/Spring 2008

Setting the context for on-line discussion of women in the future of USA churches, the course will begin with a brief overview of women in world religions. Attention will next be focused on the history of women’s participation and leadership in American congregations over the last two centuries, to stimulate a discussion of what themes and trends might be predicted for the 21st and 22nd centuries. The differences among and between women and men in the pews and pulpits of Catholic, mainline liberal Protestant, and evangelical conservative Protestant denominations will also be explored to better understand the present reality and possible future of churches in the USA. Adair Lummis, Faculty Associate in Research

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:*
ONLINE

*Note: This course is scheduled to begin Monday, January 28th . Registered students will receive an email from Dr. Scott Thumma by January 25th with instructions on how to access the private web site.

Adair Lummis
Faculty Associate in Research


Contact Information:

phone: (860) 509-9547
email: alummis@hartsem.edu

 

Course Syllabus

Course Web Site


The focus of this course is on factors affecting the leadership of women and the involvement of women and men in USA Christian denominations, and consequences for individual, church, and society. . However, parallels with women ‘s experience in other religious traditions and countries will be touched on in the lectures, reading, as well as welcomed in students’ on-line responses and course papers.

Through the lenses of history, sociology and psychology, women’s changing roles and influence in congregations and church structures will be examined, to raise questions for on-line discussion about the present and the future of women in church structures.
Students will be asked to consider how differences among denominational traditions and among various racial/ethnic/national groups have affected women’s past and present church involvement and may continue to do so throughout the twenty-first century.
In light of women’s and men’s often differing degree of activity in congregations, students will read and give their views on the ongoing (and unresolved) debates about the relative importance of innate differences between men and women, childhood socialization, opportunities for participation and leadership in church and society.

Because within single congregations individual women (and men) may respond differently to the same church conditions and teaching, attention will also be given to the extent to which education, family situation, personal preferences, etc. may affect overall participation and leadership aspirations or style.

A final question to be addressed by the course revolves around the potential of women in official church leadership positions to strengthen or weaken congregations and their communities

Course Requirements: General requirements include:
weekly: doing all of the assigned reading, answering one of the questions posed by the instructor with each lecture, and commenting on at least one of the answers written by another student. 40% of final grade

mid-term essay:
1000-1500 words on the type and extent of women’s leadership in your congregation or regional judicatory (diocese, conference, district, or other faith body) over the last 20-50 years, with some references to assigned reading done about how your congregation or regional judicatory has followed a similar or different trajectory. 30% of final grade

final essay:
1500-2000 words on what you see as the future of women’ s leadership and congregational strength in your denomination or faith tradition – and why (using your scholarly reflections, insights, fantasies, and assigned reading.) 30% of final grade

Texts: All required reading is available on-line. See Course Schedule following.

Format: Lecture/Presentation introducing the topic will be posted with questions for discussion on Monday. Responses by students expected by Friday afternoon of most weeks, with their response to comments of one other student by Sunday. In some weeks, students’ papers will be the primary writing assignment.

Course Schedule (Some short reading additions may be added later, but this is the basic schedule of required reading.)

Week 1: Introduction to Women’s Place in World Religions
Required reading: only the on-line lecture introduction.
Student responses: answering questions on-line about their religious backgrounds and present involvement (if any) in communities of faith.

Week 2: Women’s 18th- early 19th Century awakening to the possibility of leadership in USA churches
Reading to gain understanding of themes and trends (not historical details)

  1. Susan Hill Lindley, You Have Stept Out of Your Place: A History of Women and Religion in America. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996). Chapters 5 and 6 “The Great Awakening” and “The Ideal American Woman”. Pp 39-69
  2. Carl and Dorothy Schneider, In Their Own Right: The History of American Clergywomen. (New York: Crossroad, 1997). Chapter 2: “Crosscurrents: 1800-1853).” Pp 23-56

Week 3: Moving into the 20th Century: Shifting cultural and denominational currents affecting models of women’s place and presence in churches
Reading :

  1. Ann Taves, “Feminization Revisited: Protestantism and Gender at the Turn of the Century.” In M. L. Bendroth and V.L. Brenton, eds: Women and Twentieth Century Protestantism. (Urban: U. of Illinois Press, 2002). Pp 304-324.
  2. Carroll, Hargrove and Lummis, Women of the Cloth (San Franciso: Harper and Row, 1983) Chapter 2. “American Churches and ‘Women’s Place.’ Pp. 20-48.

Week 4. Twentieth Century women confront patriarchy individually and organize as groups
Reading:

  1. M.T. Winter, A. Lummis, A. Stokes, Defecting in Place. (New York, Crossroad, 1994). “Introduction”. Pp. 1-6.
  2. Susan Farrell, “Women-Church and Egalitarianism: Revisioning “in Christ there are no more distinctions between male and female.’” In G. A. Weatherby and S.A. Farrell, The Power of Gender in Religion. (New York: McGraw Hill, 1996) Pp. 39-50
  3. B.B. Zikmund, “Women’s Organizations: Centers of Denominational Loyalty and Expressions of Christian Unity.” In J.W. Carroll and W.C. Roof, eds., Beyond Establishment: Protestant Identity in a Post-Protestant Age. (Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), Pp 116-138.
  4. Susan Hartman, “Expanding Feminism’s Field and Focus: Activism in the National Council of Churches in the 1960’s and 1970’s.” In M. L. Bendroth and V.L. Brenton, eds: Women and Twentieth Century Protestantism. (Urban: U. of Illinois Press, 2002). Pp 49-69

Week 5. Women in the Racial-Ethnic Congregations: A Different Journey?
Reading for themes, similarities and differences

  1. Delores Carpenter, A Time for Honor: A Portrait of African American Clergywomen (St. Louis, Chalice Press, 2001), Chapter 1. “Black Christian Women in the African American Church.” Pp. 1-23.
  2. Gaston Espinosa, “Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: A History of Women in Ministry in the Latino Pentecostal Movement in the United States.” In M. L. Bendroth and V.L. Brenton, eds: Women and Twentieth Century Protestantism. (Urbana: U. of Illinois Press, 2002). Pp 25-48
  3. Timothy Tseng, “Unbinding their Souls: Chinese-Protestant Women in 20th Century America.” In M. L. Bendroth and V.L. Brenton, eds: Women and Twentieth Century Protestantism. (Urbana: U. of Illinois Press, 2002). Pp 136-163.

Week 6. Denominations’ Strategies to Facilitate and Block Ordination of Women
Reading for themes, similarities and differences among denominations

  1. Paula D. Nesbitt, The Feminization of the Clergy in America: Occupational and Organizational Perspectives. (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1997), Chapter 1: “Tradition of Transformation: Women’s Struggle over Religious Authority and Leadership.” Pp. 9-28.
  2. Mark Chaves, Ordaining Women: Culture and Conflict in Religious Organizations. (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, l997). Chapters 2 and 8: “The Symbolic Significance of Women’s Ordination” and “Conclusion.” Pp. 14-37; 182-192.
  3. Barbara B Zikmund, AT Lummis and MY Chang, Clergy Women: An Uphill Calling.(Louisville, Westminister John Knox Press, 1998) Chapter 1: “A New Situation”. Pp. 1-22.

Week 7 . First Essay due and discussed.
No Reading:

  1. Each student writes about 1000-1500 words on the type and extent of women’s leadership in their congregation or regional judicatory (diocese, conference, district, etc.) or other regional faith body over the last 20 to 50 years. Students will be expected to examine research documents and/or talk to one or more church leaders who know the recent history. The paper will relate this history to the reading already done, to note congruencies and divergences with congregation of their or other denominations
  2. Students will post their essays, and choose one other student’s essay to comment on the similarities of points with their congregational/judicatory experience.

Week 8. The Nature-Nurture-Opportunity Debates: Are Women More Religiously Inclined than Men, and if so Why?
Reading:

  1. Rodney Stark, “Physiology and Faith: Addressing the “Universal Gender Difference in Religious Commitment.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 41: (2002). Pp. 495-507.
  2. Darren Sherkat: “Sexuality and Religious Commitment in the United States: An Empirical Examination.” Sociology of Religion 41 (2002) Pp. 313-323.
  3. Michael Carroll. “Give Me the Ol’ Time Hormonal Religion.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 43 (2004) Pp. 275-278.
  4. Lummis, “A Research Note: ‘Real Men’ and Church Participation.” Review of Religious Research. 45. (2004) Pp. 404-414.

 

Week 9. Women’s Attitudinal Adjustments and Action Negotiations in Staying or Leaving Patriarchal Churches
Reading:

  1. M.T. Winter, A. Lummis, A. Stokes, Defecting in Place. (New York, Crossroad, 1994). “Conclusions”. Pp. 194-202.
  2. Elizabeth W. Ozorak. “The Power, but not the Glory: How Women Empower themselves through Religion.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 35. (1996). Pp. 17-29.
  3. Lori G. Beaman, “Molly Mormons, Mormon Feminists and Moderates: Religious Diversity and the Latter Day Saints Church. “ Sociology of Religion, 62. (2001). Pp. 65-86.
  4. Elaine H. Ecklund, “Catholic Women Negotiate Feminism: A Research Note.” Sociology of Religion. 64. (2003) Pp. 515-524.
  5. Sally Gallagher, “The Marginalization of Evangelical Feminism.” Sociology of Religion 65. 2004. Pp 215-137.

Week 10. Ordained Women as Leaders of Protestant Congregations
Reading:
Edward C. Lehman: Women’s Path Into Ministry: Six Major Studies (All six chapters plus responses from denominational leaders). Pulpit and Pew, Duke Divinity. 2003. 46 pages. Download from: http://www.pulpitandpew.duke.edu/women.html

Week 11 The Future of Women in Church Leadership and the Future of the Church
Reading:

  1. Virginia Sullivan Finn, “Ministerial Attitudes and Aspirations of Catholic Laywomen in the United States.” In Catherine Wessinger, ed:, Religious Institutions and Women’s Leadership: New Roles Inside the Mainstream. (Columbia, SC:University of South Carolina Press. 1996). Pp. 244-268.
  2. Paula D. Nesbitt, The Feminization of the Clergy in America: Occupational and Organizational Perspectives. (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1997), Chapter 9. “Clergy Feminizations: Controlled Labor or Liberationist Change?” Pp. 161-177.
  3. B, B Zikmund, AT Lummis and MY Chang, Clergy Women: An Uphill Calling.(Louisville, Westminister John Knox Press, 1998) Chapter 6. “An Expanding Ministry”. Pp. 114-133.
  4. M. Deckman, S. Crawford, L. Olson, J. Green, “Clergy and the Politics of Gender.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 42 (2003). 621-631.

Week 12-13. Final Essay
No Reading:
Each students is asked to write an essay of 1500-2000 words on what you see as the future of women’ s leadership and congregational strength in your denomination or faith tradition – and why (using your scholarly reflections, other students comments, insights, fantasies, and assigned reading). Each student will be asked to put a 1-2 page outline of their proposed paper on the line at the beginning of week 12. If students wish, they may post their final essay when completed as well.

Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500  info@hartsem.edu