Women clergy: Always an associate?

The Young Clergy Women Project, Fidelia, discusses the costs and promises of being an associate:

A part of me hates that men with whom I went to seminary are now established rectors well on their way to “big steeple” churches. I see so many of my women friends dropping to part time, or dropping out altogether, and I worry that somehow we are missing our turn on an ecclesiastical conveyor belt that won’t wait for us. Even the most powerful, dynamic women rectors in my Diocese tend to be rectors of small parishes. I haven’t been trained to be a rector of a small parish. All my expertise is geared towards how large, multi-staff parishes function. Will anyone hire me as a rector if I have a dozen years an associate under my belt, but not one as a rector?

Secondly, during my national job search, I was disheartened to find that as an associate I made much more than many small churches were offering. I had to lower my asking salary by a third just to be considered for these positions. I had listed my diocesan minimum on my application, and it was sobering to realize how many churches struggle to pay their rectors. Larger churches can often pay even an associate well. Am I willing to sacrifice income in order to be a rector?

All of this ignores the more spiritual questions of call, of course. I feel very much at home in my current congregation and absolutely believe God meant me to be here. I trust that God will continue to lead my discernment, but an uneasiness remains.

How about you? Are you an associate? What are your joys and struggles?

Read more here.

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