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Women, Religion and the Future of USA Churches*
Setting the context for on-line discussion of women in the future of USA congregations and denominations, the course will begin with a brief overview of women in world religions. Attention will be focused on the history of women’s participation and leadership in American Christian churches over the last two centuries, to stimulate a discussion of what themes and trends might be predicted for the 21st century. The differences among and between women and men in the membership and leadership of Catholic, mainline liberal Protestant, and evangelical conservative Protestant denominations will be explored to better understand the present reality and possible future of churches in the USA. At the same time, students are welcomed to make comparisons in their on-line writing and papers between women’s experiences in USA churches and those of women in other religions in the USA or in other countries.
Online beginning Monday, January 23
Course Description and Objectives:
The major focus of this course is on factors affecting the involvement and leadership of women compared with men in USA Christian congregations and denominations. Parallels with women‘s experience in non-Christian religious traditions and countries other than the USA will be very welcomed in students on-line responses and their papers, and will be touched on in lectures and reading assignments.
Through the lenses of contemporary church history, sociology and psychology of religion in the reading assigned, weekly discussion questions will focus on women’s changing roles and influence in congregations, in regional and national offices of different denominations and faiths, as well as in theological education. Students will be asked to reflect on how differences within their faith tradition in theological emphases and worship preferences, presence of racial/ethnic groups, regional location, membership decline or growth and other factors have influenced women’s past and present church involvement and leadership attainment.
Final questions to be addressed by the course are (1) the potential of women in official church leadership positions to strengthen or weaken their local or larger faith communities; (2) ways that both genders may cooperate in strengthening their faith communities throughout the 21st century, Although indication of students’ wider reading is welcomed, it is important that students also do the reading assigned for this course and demonstrate this in responses to lecture questions and in their final papers.
ALL reading assigned is available ON-LINE. No purchase of books is required.
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 other student’s answers. Weekly participation on the discussion course site is expected. 40% of final grade.
Missing more than two weekly discussions will lower your final grade.
Mid-term proposal for final essay: 500-1000 words on describing the final paper planned about the extent of women’s participation in your choice of congregation, denomination or other faith-related community over the last 2-20 years, with references to assigned reading done.
20% of final grade.
Final essay: About 1500-2000 at words on what the recent history indicates as the future of women’s participation and leadership in your choice of faith-related community, and the outcomes you see for the future vitality of this faith community ( congregation, denomination or faith tradition – AND WHY (using, assigned & other readings, discussions, and insights.)
40% of final grade.
In addition to weekly posted lectures, there is also assigned reading.
WEEK 1 Introduction to Women’s Place in World Religions
- Reading: Only the on-line lecture introduction.
- Students: Introduce themselves one line, given some information about their religious backgrounds, and what their particular interests are in this course or in their future careers.
WEEK 2 Women’s Leadership in USA Churches in 18th- early 19th Centuries
Reading assigned here and in forthcoming weeks is primarily to gain understanding of themes and trends (not historical details).
- 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.
- 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 and through the 20th Century: Churched Women Engage in Community Work and Seek Recognition in the Church
- 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.
- Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, Chapter 1 “Community Work and Social Change”, If It Wasn’t for the Women (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2001).
- 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.
WEEK 4: Twentieth Century Women Inspired by Feminism Confront Patriarchy within Their Congregations and Denominations
- 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
- Carroll, Hargrove and Lummis, Women of the Cloth (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983) Chapter 2. “American Churches and ‘Women’s Place.’ Pp. 20-48.
- 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,
- Ray Waddle, “Waves of History” and Adair T. Lummis, “Visions and Revisions: Women in Ministry Today.” In Reflections, (Yale Divinity School), (vl. 98, #1, 2011), Pp 16-18,
WEEK 5: Women’s Roles and Negotiations in Evangelical and
Conservative Communities of Faith
Reading for themes, similarities and differences
- John P. Barkowski and Jen’an Read, “Veiled Submission: Gender, Power, and Identity among Evangelical and Muslim Women in the United States.” Qualitative Sociology 26(2003).71-92.
- 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.
3. Elaine H. Ecklund, “Catholic Women Negotiate Feminism: A Research Note.” Sociology of Religion. 64. (2003) Pp. 515-524.
4. Sally Gallagher, “The Marginalization of Evangelical Feminism.” Sociology of Religion 65 (2004). Pp 215-237.
WEEK 6: Women Roles in Racial-Ethnic, Immigrant, and Multi-Ethnic Congregations
Reading for themes, similarities and differences
- Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, “Some Mother’s Son and Some Father’s Daughter: Issues of Gender, Biblical Language, and Worship.” In Gilkes, op. cit. pp 121-141.
- Pyong Gap Min, “Severe Underrepresentation of Women in Church Leadership in the Korean Immigrant Community in the United States.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 47 (2008) 47, Pp. 225-241
- Choose at least one of the following to read through
Case studies in Helen Rose Ebaugh and Janet Saltzman Chafetz, eds.,Religion and the New Immigrants (Walnut Creek, CA” AltaMira, 2000)
- Kathleen Sullivan, “St. Catherine’s Catholic Church: One Church, Parallel Congregations” pp 210-233
- Patricia Dorsey, “Southwest Assembly of God: Whomsoever Will” pp. 234-257
- +/or Jamillah Karim, “Negotiating Gender Lines: Women’s Movement across Atlanta Mosques.” In Karim, American Muslim Women (2009: NY U. Press) 163-205.
WEEK 7 Women Taking Leadership in 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 8 Gender and Sexual Orientation Reading for themes, trends, differences
- Michael Emerson, W. Mirola, S.Monahan, “Adam, Eve and Steve: How Religion Intersects with Gender and Sexuality.” In Religion Matters: What Sociology Teaches Us About Religion in Our World (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2011). Pp. 134-159.
- Krista McQueeney, “’We are God’s Children, Y’All.’ Race, Gender and Sexuality in Lesbian-and Gay-Affirming Congregations.” S. C. Monahan,S. Mirola, M. Emerson, Sociology of Religion: A Reader. (Boston: Allyn& Bacon, 2011). Pp. 209-228.
WEEK 9 Week of Reading/Writing Catch-up: Proposals for Final Essay Due.
WEEK 10 The Nature-Nurture-Opportunity Debates: Are Women More Religiously Inclined than Men, and if so Why?
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 11 Denominations’ Strategies to Facilitate/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), “Tradition of Transformation: Women’s Struggle over Religious Authority & 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 12 Ordained Women as Leaders of Protestant Congregations
- 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
- James Owen Wolfe III, American Baptist Women in Pastoral Ministry, (South Bend, Indiana: Cloverdale, 2007), Chapters 5.& 6. Pp. 96-124.
WEEK 13 The Future of Women in Church Leadership Reading:
- 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. (NewYork: 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). Pp. 621-631.
WEEK 14 Final Lecture
No Reading: Begin writing your final essay
WEEK 15 Final Essays Due
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, your responses to the postings of other students, and your insights, fantasies, and definitely – the assigned reading).