For example: According to statistics maintained by the Women’s Ministries at the National Church Center, compiled from statistics from the Church Pension Group, in the year 2004 the Diocese of Newark listed a total of 112 clergy employed in congregations in the diocese, 33.9% of whom were women; 29.6% of whom were female senior/solo rectors.
In the year 2007, the Diocese of Newark listed 98 parochial clergy (a loss of 14 clergy), 37.8% of whom were female (a gain of 3.9% in three years) and 31.8% of whom were female senior/solo rectors (a gain of 2.2% in three years).
Compared to national church statistics, in 2004 there were 5,829 parochial clergy, 29.2% of whom were female and 23.2% of whom were female senior/solo rectors.
In the year 2007, there were a reported 5,467 clergy (a decrease of 362 employed in parochial ministry), 31.4% of whom were women (an increase of 2.2% in three years), and 25.9% of whom were female senior/solo rectors (an increase of 2.7% in three years).
While the Diocese of Newark seems to be slightly ahead of the admittedly very modest gains in deployment of women, it is important to monitor these statistics, especially in these fragile economic times.
We are especially curious as to the correlation, if any, between the lower compensation packages women receive and the modest increase in the deployment of women.
Given the loss of personnel at the Episcopal Church Center (“815”), it becomes increasingly important for local dioceses to be increasingly vigilant at the local level in the name of justice.
With all that in mind, the members of the Women’s Commission in the Diocese of Newark, of which I've been a member since 1993, have submitted the following resolution to be considered at our Diocesan Convention in January:
Resolved, that this ____ Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark requests the Women’s Commission to survey congregations and search committees in this diocese in terms of issues of fair practices in deployment strategies and compensation packages offered to female clergy and report its findings to the Committee on Clergy Compensation, the Bishop and this Convention in 2010.We are hoping to engage a few folk in the church who can help us design a survey tool that will give us the best opportunity to yield the information we are seeking.
What we do with that information will, of course, be dependent upon our findings.
As an aside, I'm betting that there are still close to 112 clergy still involved in parochial ministry, but the largest percentage of those clergy are part time 'interim clergy'.
Interim Ministry has become a 'cottage industry' for clergy - men and women - who are either recently retired (and therefore, receiving their pension and health care benefits), women who have young families or husbands with demanding and well-paid professional positions, and those men and women who also hold secular (read: better paying) positions which often provide a benefit package which makes them "more affordable" to financially strapped congregations.
Have you noticed, at least in The Episcopal Church, how long an 'interim period' lasts? For some congregations, it's as long as two full years. Some, longer. Very, very few shorter than that. And, you know, I don't think the results have been uniformly good - either for the congregation or in terms of the 'fit' of the person called as new rector.
The pro's and con's of that particular situation is another conversation for another day. The focus of THIS study is specifically about the status of ordained women in the church, which, I think, is a measure of our commitment to the work of Gospel justice.
I encourage you to study the 'stained glass ceiling' in your own diocese. I have a feeling you'll be amazed at what you find.