Marys need small groups

Penny Long Marler observes,

According to the Faith Communities Today project (2008), 87% of women clergy (as compared to 71% of men) say that they have participated in a small peer group for continuing education and support in the past five years.

There are good reasons for clergywomen’s disproportionate attraction to such groups. Our survey of 2,098 pastoral leaders in Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) peer groups found that women are more likely to experience a triple time-bind in their personal and ministerial lives. They work like their male peers, but they spend significantly more time commuting to their workplace and (like most working women) doing household chores. They also are more likely to say that they joined a peer group because they feel isolated in their ministries. They both need the support and their time is precious.

In the gospels, you rarely learn of the faithful commitment and action of one woman alone. There are the Mary’s and nameless “other women.” For better or for worse, this kind of relationality is a woman’s legacy and a part of her creative response to challenges of legitimacy and social change. It is no surprise that the last major study of women clergy found that women who left ministry did so because they lacked a peer group.

Read it here. Do men not need the support of peers, or do they need the support but avoid it?

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