By Julie Kathleen Schubring
While there are few surprises in a recently released study on the status and career paths of U.S. United
Methodist clergy, the findings still offer a blueprint for how the denomination can better address institutional
sexism and racism in our clergy recruitment, compensation and deployment systems.
by: Julie Kathleen Schubring
By now many may have heard of the Vital Congregations Project. Just what is it and why are numbers so
important to gauging the vitality and health of United Methodist congregations?
The vision of Vital Congregations is “to fulfill the mission of The United Methodist Church by equipping and
empowering congregations to become vital and healthy congregations in their communities and in our world.”1
The Call to Action report lists four key areas that drive the vitality of a congregation, and these are consistent
across all sizes of congregations. They are: small groups and programs, worship service, pastor and lay
Some of our readers might have seen the August 2
Huffington Post article - “Women Show Deep Drop
in Church Attendance.” Both surveys mentioned in
the article were conducted by the Barna Group – the
first in 1991 and the second in 2011. The article tells
us that the percentage of women attending church
has decreased by 11 percentage points to 44 percent.
The percentage of women teaching Sunday school
and volunteering has also decreased, while there has
been a 17 percentage point increase in the number
of women who have become
Between 2004-2008 there has been
little change in the race/ethnicity of
the lay membership within the
United Methodist Church in the
The only growth was within the African
American/Black population, .80%. The other
categories stayed the same. (The "multiracial"
category has only been added within the last
By Craig this
Of those clergypersons serving local churches in the United States, 26% are clergywomen and 74% are clergymen (see Table
In other words, 1 in 4 churches is served by a clergywoman. Of the 7,619 clergywomen who serve in the local church, only
814, or 14%, are racial/ethnic women (see Table 2). That means 1 in 10 clergywomen serving a local church is
a racial/ethnic clergywoman. At first glance, that seems like a pretty good ratio. However, looking deeper, statistics
show that only 3 out of every 100 churches are served by a racial/ethnic clergywoman. At the same time, 3 out
of every 4 churches are served by a clergyman, regardless of race.
By Craig this
Previous “By the Numbers”
articles in The Flyer have focused
on the gains made by clergywomen
in serving The United
Methodist Church as local church
pastors, district superintendents,
bishops, and conference officers.
This article examines and
analyzes where and how clergywomen
serve the local church.