Barna Group, a research company that specializes in church trends, reports that the number of female senior pastors has doubled in the past 10 years:
From the early 1990s through 1999 just 5% of the Senior Pastors of Protestant churches were female. Since that time the proportion has slowly but steadily risen, doubling to 10% in 2009.
Not surprisingly, a large share of the woman in the pastorate – 58% – are affiliated with a “mainline” church – i.e., a congregation that is aligned with denominations such as American Baptist Churches (ABCUSA), United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), United Methodist or Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), abbreviated PC(USA). Among male pastors, less than half that percentage (23%) is affiliated with a mainline ministry.
The survey also revealed that the median age of female pastors has risen during the last ten years, from 50 years of age to the current median of 55. In contrast, the median age of male senior pastors has also risen, from 48 to 52.
Women in the pulpit are generally more highly educated than are their male counterparts. Currently, more than three-quarters of female pastors (77%) have a seminary degree. Among male pastors less than two-thirds (63%) can make that same claim.
Despite their higher educational attainment, though, female pastors typically have smaller compensation levels than do male pastors. The average package for female pastors in 2009 is $45,300. The median compensation for male pastors is $48,600. As striking as the gap may be, it has diminished somewhat over the last ten years.
Today’s news has a story of one of the newest Episcopal rectors here.