CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby William Thornton » Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:32 pm

What the column is, Ed, is an honest expression of a young CBFers frustration. I give credit to Bob Allen credit for the wide range of viewpoints he offer on ABP.

And I'm not sure what can be done. It seems to me that there has to be some acceleration of bwim, specifically senior pastors, or there is a risk that the women will just plan a path for service in another denomination.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Dave Roberts » Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:57 pm

William Thornton wrote:If I were a church leader I would want Dave Roberts to shepherd the congregation, helping them to plan and prepare for our next pastor.


Thanks, William, but I don't deserve the credit. It goes back to good training from the Center for Congregational Health and to the BGAV. I'm just trying to implement what others have shown me.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Sandy » Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:30 pm

Here's a logistical question. I believe somewhere in this thread, mention was made of the fact that there are about 2,000 students in the various partner seminaries and divinity schools that are CBF partners, and about 40% of them are women. Several of the schools also partner with the Alliance of Baptists. If CBF's website is an accurate representation, there are right around 900 churches that channel some money in some way through the fellowship to its partner agencies and institutions, and another 125 or so in the Alliance, though there is a lot of overlap there as well. If you're expecting a church position in either CBF or the Alliance after graduation, or even a missionary position, it would seem the availability within either of those groups would involve a long wait, regardless of gender. Going to other denominations appears to be an option for some, though most denominations have their own theological schools and seminaries. It seems the field is pretty crowded, and that would tend to suppress enrollment at some point.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:29 pm

William Thornton wrote:If I were a church leader I would want Dave Roberts to shepherd the congregation, helping them to plan and prepare for our next pastor.


Agreed! A good interim is a blessing to any church!
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:33 pm

Sandy wrote:Here's a logistical question. I believe somewhere in this thread, mention was made of the fact that there are about 2,000 students in the various partner seminaries and divinity schools that are CBF partners, and about 40% of them are women. Several of the schools also partner with the Alliance of Baptists. If CBF's website is an accurate representation, there are right around 900 churches that channel some money in some way through the fellowship to its partner agencies and institutions, and another 125 or so in the Alliance, though there is a lot of overlap there as well. If you're expecting a church position in either CBF or the Alliance after graduation, or even a missionary position, it would seem the availability within either of those groups would involve a long wait, regardless of gender. Going to other denominations appears to be an option for some, though most denominations have their own theological schools and seminaries. It seems the field is pretty crowded, and that would tend to suppress enrollment at some point.


A lot of denominations have a shortage of clergy coming. Here in the Iowa Conference UMC we had 32 pastors retire last year and only ordained 6. We have about 800 churches and I'm thinking something like 600 active clergy. We just had 5% of them retire this year. Maybe this is happening in the upper midwest faster than other places but the average age of the UMC pastor is 58.

I'd be curious to know the average age of an ABC, CBF, and SBC pastor. If it is also well above 50 then we are going to need all the seminarians we can get.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Dave Roberts » Thu Dec 05, 2013 8:44 pm

As far as I know, the SBC's Annual Church Profile (previously Associational Letter) does not ask the age of pastors, only the longevity. I can't speak to other areas, but I know that the age of pastors in my immediate area is high. One who is 85 just announced his retirement after almost 60 years in the same congregation. I know several in their 50's and 60's and a couple of active pastors still in their 70's. My guess is the Baptist clergy shortage is just over the horizon, so there may be a number of openings in all branches of the Baptist family.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Dec 05, 2013 8:47 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:As far as I know, the SBC's Annual Church Profile (previously Associational Letter) does not ask the age of pastors, only the longevity. I can't speak to other areas, but I know that the age of pastors in my immediate area is high. One who is 85 just announced his retirement after almost 60 years in the same congregation. I know several in their 50's and 60's and a couple of active pastors still in their 70's. My guess is the Baptist clergy shortage is just over the horizon, so there may be a number of openings in all branches of the Baptist family.


United Methodists have a mandatory retirement age of 72 for pastors. But you can actually continue working at a church when you retire it just means you start collecting your pension and can no longer contribute to it. Often retired pastors work part-time.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Ed Pettibone » Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:46 pm

Ed: It looks like Jack Lotty who singed on here in March of 2010, may finally give it up shortly after the first of the year. He said when he signed on to BL.C "Occupation: Retired but pastoring an Urban Neighborhood church" that was an interim, but he is still there. At 88 he has become convinced that his 93 year old wife needs him at home more. They are both officially members of our church where she usually attends when physically able, unless Jack's church is having a special event. We are looking forward to having him with us on a regular basis. As it is he attends our monthly celebration day "pitch in" after the forth Sunday service. At one point in his career he was an ABC Field Minister splitting his time between New York City and all of Puerto Rico. At the Associational ministers meeting he was one of the first not to carry a leather Bible but to use an app on his Iphone. He also has a tablet that he carries if he is doing the devotional.

BTW. they seemed to have a good female candidate a few years ago but shortly after a walk around that "Urban Neighborhood" she gracefully withdrew as a contender.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Cathy » Sat Dec 07, 2013 3:06 am

Our regional (ABC) office never forwarded a referral for a woman and pretty much gave up on helping our church find a pastor. The church has women fill in fairly regularly and is generally supportive of women in ministry. Too bad we we are so far away from McAfee.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Haruo » Sat Dec 07, 2013 4:01 am

What region? Maybe you should join Evergreen.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Dave Roberts » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:23 am

Placements for seminary students in Baptist life are not guaranteed. There are both men and women at all theological schools who struggle for one to two years to find a permanent placement. When I completed my M.Div. in 1972, it was estimated that there were approximately 1,000 graduates of SBC seminaries who were not placed within one year of graduation. I don't know the figures at present, but anecdotally, I can relate stories of some who graduated with my son from BTSR, both men and women, who are still in part-time church positions or doing secular work while still looking for an opportunity. We will lose some to other denominations, but this is a problem in Baptist life with a long-standing history that relates to our polity. There are no guarantees for men any more than there are guarantees for women. I suspect, though enrollments at SBC seminaries are only as large as they once were because of undergraduate programs, there are still a number of SBC graduates as well who are not placed. That's a little secret that all seminaries seem to keep--there are no guarantees of a job when you finish a degree.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:38 am

Cathy wrote:Our regional (ABC) office never forwarded a referral for a woman and pretty much gave up on helping our church find a pastor. The church has women fill in fairly regularly and is generally supportive of women in ministry. Too bad we we are so far away from McAfee.


Where you on the search committee Cathy? If so that could be frustrating not having qualified women referred to the committee. On the other hand the region only refers candidates that fit the criteria the committee gives them. That criteria may have eliminated available women candidates.

For example, I seem to remember that you told us that this particular ABC church was quite conservative. (Am I remembering right?) I don't know too many ABC women pastors who characterized themselves as theological conservatives because theological conservatives often don't want women pastors. So if the search committee had said, "we just want profiles of conservative pastors" that could eliminate most of the women candidates.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:56 am

Dave Roberts wrote: That's a little secret that all seminaries seem to keep--there are no guarantees of a job when you finish a degree.


Yes, and seminaries need to stop keeping it a secret.

Something else that isn't exclusive to issues of placement of women is that seminaries seldom tell you that if you grew up in a larger city or suburban church that the odds are you will not get placement in a church like the one you grew up in.

The greatest majority of churches in need of pastors are small churches in small towns so that is where most the jobs are to be found. I'm a city person but my first three pastorates were in small towns. It was a cultural adjustment which I made but which I don't think anyone at seminary prepared me to make. I knew quite a few other pastors who grew up in larger metro areas who found themselves serving rural parishes. Some make the adjustment others didn't fit in until the could find a more urban congregation.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Ed Pettibone » Sat Dec 07, 2013 2:18 pm

Timothy Bonney wrote:
Cathy wrote:Our regional (ABC) office never forwarded a referral for a woman and pretty much gave up on helping our church find a pastor. The church has women fill in fairly regularly and is generally supportive of women in ministry. Too bad we we are so far away from McAfee.


Where you on the search committee Cathy? If so that could be frustrating not having qualified women referred to the committee. On the other hand the region only refers candidates that fit the criteria the committee gives them. That criteria may have eliminated available women candidates.

For example, I seem to remember that you told us that this particular ABC church was quite conservative. (Am I remembering right?) I don't know too many ABC women pastors who characterized themselves as theological conservatives because theological conservatives often don't want women pastors. So if the search committee had said, "we just want profiles of conservative pastors" that could eliminate most of the women candidates.


Ed: Tim there is nowhere on the ABC profiles to check off ones theological positioning, and because the terms fundamentalist, conservative, moderate and liberal are quite subjective it is best to save that question for a face to face interview discussion. Yet those reading profiles too often make unwarranted assumptions based on gender, age, race, marital status and schools attended. Occasionally a candidate may make a statement in the limited narrative area of the profile but in ABC-NYS doing so is discouraged.

To you comment that you do not know "too many ABC women pastors who characterized themselves as theological conservatives because theological conservatives often don't want women pastors." I am not sure what you are saying. I know several ABC women pastors, who if you ask if they are conservative, will ask, On what subject?

I personally know of no ABC woman pastor whom I could class as fundamentalist, some conservative, many moderate and a few liberals. Among the men, a few conservatives, a hand full of ultra conservatives a majority of moderates and some liberals. In other words both male and female Baptist Clergy reflect the make up of the Churches in the ABC.

And to Tim and Dave I will say any Baptist Seminary student who gets through the first semester of seminary with the fantasy that the school will guarantee placement in 2 or 3 years is not very observant. Can Either of you tell me where students get such an idea?

And lets keep in mind that many have attended Seminary with no thought of becoming a pastor. I know that for some here, who got to seminary with that expectation this is nearly incomprehensible.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Dec 07, 2013 2:33 pm

Ed, I agree that both men and women in the ABC who are clergy are all over the theological spectrum. But many Baptists view women in ministry as a "liberal thing." So they make assumptions, quite unfairly, about the candidate based on their gender.

You are of course right that ABPS profiles do not include theological orientation. But region staff often do know candidates and their theological orientations. If the church is say a known liberal church I'd hope they'd not waste the search committee's time giving them far right conservative profiles when they happen to know that about the individual.

Judgements are often made based on what seminary the pastor attended. If you attended Union or the Divinity School in Rochester you are assumed to be more liberal than if you attended NBTS. That isn't totally accurate. But those judgements are made. The schools have reputations which rub off on their students. There were times search committees mistook me for a conservative because I attended an SBC seminary. I always had to explain my background.

If I were searching for an Associate, when I was a Baptist, and I got a profile from someone who graduated from Luther Rice or Liberty University you better believe I'd be checking them out to make sure I wasn't going to be interviewing a fundamentalist.

Part of what I was hoping to find out from Cathy is how she knows her region didn't send women's profiles to the search committee.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Dave Roberts » Sat Dec 07, 2013 3:01 pm

Part of the idea of having a position upon graduation comes from the churches back home who encourage young people to go to seminary so "you will be qualified for better churches." I've heard that from students, and I've heard it from pastors.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Dec 07, 2013 4:15 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:Part of the idea of having a position upon graduation comes from the churches back home who encourage young people to go to seminary so "you will be qualified for better churches." I've heard that from students, and I've heard it from pastors.


I have too Dave. When I was growing up in the local church my pastors had convinced me not only that I needed to go to seminary but that it had to be SBTS. They were all SBTS grads and called it THE Southern Baptist Theological seminary. :D

But even more so one of the real shocks of ministry for a young person is when you are raised in a caring church that values you and highly values the call to ministry only to find out that not all churches value their pastors the same way. It was quite an eye opening for me to realize in my first pastorate that some churches simply look at you as a hired hand no different than the custodian or the guy who cuts the grass and that you are there to take orders from the church leadership and do it there way because they are paying your salary.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby William Thornton » Sat Dec 07, 2013 4:23 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:Part of the idea of having a position upon graduation comes from the churches back home who encourage young people to go to seminary so "you will be qualified for better churches." I've heard that from students, and I've heard it from pastors.


Based on what I am seeing, that MDiv has lost some of its value to churches.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Dec 07, 2013 4:28 pm

William Thornton wrote:
Based on what I am seeing, that MDiv has lost some of its value to churches.


In what way William? I don't see a BA in Biblical Studies as giving someone any real ministry training. I know, I have both.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby William Thornton » Sat Dec 07, 2013 5:53 pm

Anecdotal. It just seems like I see more pastors of decent sized churches w/out seminary degrees.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Dec 07, 2013 6:10 pm

William Thornton wrote:Anecdotal. It just seems like I see more pastors of decent sized churches w/out seminary degrees.


I see. It is hard for me to tell in the UMC. All the bigger churches are pastored by ordained Elders who all have seminary. But a lot of little country churches are started to be pastored by "Licensed Local Pastors." These are folks who aren't ordained but are licensed after a training program. Many of them have college but no seminary. They have limited appointment options but also are not itinerant.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Cathy » Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:47 pm

Timothy, I had previously related that a man who came from a very conservative/fundamentalist background was called. He turned the church down.

The church is a mix of liberal and conservative members and attendees but on both sides of that spectrum women in ministry are encouraged and women regularly fill in. I would say that the church has been clear and vocal in approving of women in ministry. It is mentioned fairly regularly in the church.

The previous moderator of the church and I guess head of the search committee told me that no women were recommended by the regional office. I am not a member of the church. I send my tithe and offering to this church via scheduled bank on line check (so faithfully) and attend regularly but haven't really felt that I was sure this would be my local church home indefinitely. I'm hopelessly in alien territory with no CBF church in the state.

All of the older local mainline churches have suffered membership losses (young people) from a large start up church that has opened multiple satellites in Northwest Montana. It seems the area has had multiple rounds of start up churches that wax and wane. There still seem to be a few reasonable size churches in the ERLC, Missouri Synod, Episcopal, and Presbyterian. And of course Catholic.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:58 pm

Thanks Cathy. That fills a lot of blanks. I'm sorry to hear that women's profiles were not recommended! It doesn't help women to move to an equal role in the church if the committees don't even see women's names.
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Haruo » Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:24 am

Cathy wrote:There still seem to be a few reasonable size churches in the ERLC, Missouri Synod, Episcopal, and Presbyterian. And of course Catholic.

ERLC? (ELCA?) - and I notice you don't mention the Methodists...
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Re: CBF seminary student, female, speaks plainly

Postby Sandy » Sun Dec 08, 2013 7:15 pm

Cathy wrote:Timothy, I had previously related that a man who came from a very conservative/fundamentalist background was called. He turned the church down.

The church is a mix of liberal and conservative members and attendees but on both sides of that spectrum women in ministry are encouraged and women regularly fill in. I would say that the church has been clear and vocal in approving of women in ministry. It is mentioned fairly regularly in the church.

The previous moderator of the church and I guess head of the search committee told me that no women were recommended by the regional office. I am not a member of the church. I send my tithe and offering to this church via scheduled bank on line check (so faithfully) and attend regularly but haven't really felt that I was sure this would be my local church home indefinitely. I'm hopelessly in alien territory with no CBF church in the state.

All of the older local mainline churches have suffered membership losses (young people) from a large start up church that has opened multiple satellites in Northwest Montana. It seems the area has had multiple rounds of start up churches that wax and wane. There still seem to be a few reasonable size churches in the ERLC, Missouri Synod, Episcopal, and Presbyterian. And of course Catholic.


I don't know how ABC-USA handles its pastoral profiles and makes recommendations, but is it possible that in the profiles of a particular regional office there were no female candidates? Or does each region have access to every candidate in the whole denomination?

I have some cousins who attend a rural ABC-USA affiliated church in West Virginia, not too far from Alderson-Broaddus College, which shares a pastor half-time with another church. It's a large enough church, about 80 in attendance, to support a full-time pastor, and they have a very nice facility. It's really the only church of any kind in a rural area about 8 miles outside of a small town, and it has potential to grow, but they can't seem to find someone who is willing to take it and move to the field. And in fact, the pastor they do have wasn't one recommended by their regional office.

One of the CBF partner schools, or one of its executive branches, might do the schools, students, and the whole fellowship a favor by doing a study and finding out the prospects for potential pastors coming out of the schools over the next decade, as well as that of other church-related pastoral positions, missions opportunities, denominational jobs, and even positions in agencies that serve churches but are non-denominational. That way, they could be honest with their female students and say that the opportunities for them to pastor churches are limited. That might avoid having someone suggest that if a church isn't on board with the perceived position of the organization, they should leave.
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