Thursday, 29 October 2009

So who are the women church leaders?

Yesterday, I started trying to put together a list of women church leaders currently serving in the world ... so far I have got to a rather exclusive group of five, but maybe tehre are more - let me know:

1) I was very proud when my own church, the United Reformed Church was the first in the UK to appoint a woman as head of the denomination. Roberta Rominger comes originally from the USA and she's been doing a really great and challenging job since she took over in 2008.

2) Sharon Watkins is the General Minister and President, and thus the leader of her denomination, the Disciples in the USA. She preached the sermon at the national prayer service following Barack Obama's inauguration.

3) Katharine Jefferts Schori has been presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA
since 2006 and has been involved in difficult church political issues.

4) Margot Kässmann was elected yesterday as the chairperson of the EKD Council in Germany.

5) Jana Jeruma-Grinberga was appointed as the presiding bishop of the Lutheran Church in great Britain.

Edit: Following the comments below I feel I should say that I am trying to list women in national positions of leadership. There are fortunately already quite a number women at regional levels of leadership around the world - bishops, moderators, regional presidents etc. - but very, very few at national levels of leadership. It is just starting to break through now and this does represent a huge change.


onlinewagner said...

Since the EKD is an umbrella body, not a church, the other female bishops of protestant churches in Germany should also be taken into account:

Maria Jepsen, Bishop of the Northelbian Church (Bärbel Wartenberg-Potter, who had been her colleague retired last year)
Ilse Junkermann, Bishop of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany
Margot Käßmann has of course been Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Hanover since 1999

and there is Rosemarie Wenner, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Germany, not a member of EKD

Jane said...

Thanks for the comment onlinewagner
I know about the other German female church leaders - Bärbel is married to a former WCC Gen Sec - and of course they do lead regional churches that are larger than some of the national churches in other contexts - but they are nevertheless not national church leaders - even if the Landeskirche system does sometimes give you the idea of them being that.
I think that what is important about Margot Kässmann's election is that in many ways the position is increasingly becoming that of the spiritual leader of German, a Protestant archbishop without all the pomp and ceremony - much more of an administrative role in some ways but also a very clear public role which will become increasingly important I think.
Anyway thanks for commenting - must learn more abotu the Methodist church - is she the leading bishop in that church or just one of several?
I beleive there was also a Moravian woman church leader in South Africa at one time but not at the moment.

Tom Zweifler said...

The EKD defines itself as a church in the theological sense - Jepsen and Wartenberg-Potter in fact are not Landesbischoefinnen because the North Elbia churh is not structured in that way, they are bishops but more akin to diocesan bishops in the CofE.

TT said...

Rosemarie Wenner is the main representative of the United Methodist Church in Germany. She is also the president of the Association of Protestant Free Churches (Vereinigung Evangelischer Freikirchen). I think, we can count her as a national church leader.

Judy Redman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Judy Redman said...

I was very pleased when my denomination (the Uniting Church in Australia) elected a woman as its seventh national leader in 1994. Dr Jill Tabart was/is not only female but a layperson and she did an excellent job. However, we are now up to number 12, and Jill has been both the only woman and the only lay person. Of course, in our noticeably multicultural church, there has never been a non-Anglo president, so gender is not the only qualification.