Facts on UCC Female Ministers

The United Church of Christ has made great gains in the numbers of female authorized ministers in recent years. In figures taken from the Fall 2014 UCC Statistical Profile, approximately 47.0% of active, non-retired authorized ministers are female; and 53.0% are male. When looking solely at the percentage of active, ordained female ministers over time, this figure increased significantly over the last decade from 33.4% in 2004 to 47.7% in 2014. Overall, there are still more male ministers than female ministers within each authorization category, except for commissioned ministers, of which there are 3.3 times the number of females compared to males.

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Last year, our office began tracking transgender/gender-variant authorized ministers. There were 10 active, non-retired authorized ministers who identified as transgender/gender-variant as of August 31, 2014, which constituted 0.1% of all active, non-retired authorized ministers. Over time, we hope that more ministers will be able to identify openly in this way by creating this category.

While gains have been made in local church settings in the last decade, there are still areas for improvement. Over one third (37.5%) of all local church pastors (including senior pastors) were female, compared with over one-fourth (28.7%) ten years ago. Over half (55.3%) of co-pastors were female, and over two-thirds were associate / assistant pastors (68.0%) and interim / supply pastors (68.3%). Summarily, female ministers still comprise a minority of solo and senior pastor roles while occupying a majority of associate / assistant and interim / supply pastor roles (many of which are part-time positions, according to last week’s post).

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What trends have you noticed within your own Association or Conference around gender and pastoral leadership roles? How does this compare with overall UCC trends? Do the gains we see in recent years give you hope for future trends? Do you think the dynamic of female ministers occupying a majority of assistant / associate and interim / supply pastor positions will change over time?

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