Sidebar: For female clergy, respect often has to be earned

REPUBLIC, Mo. (RNS) Although attitudes have improved in recent years, it’s still common for women clergy to field doubts about their legitimacy. The first time a church hires a women as pastor can be uncomfortable for both the woman and the congregation, said The Rev. Melissa St. Clair, senior pastor at Republic First Christian Church in the small southwestern Missouri town of Republic. She was the first woman to lead the church in this town of about 15,000 people.

RNS photo by Sally Morrow

Stained glass ceiling remains a hurdle for female clergy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (RNS) Jennifer Harris Dault and her husband Allyn share more than marriage. Earlier this month they joined hundreds of other students graduating from the nation’s more than 220 seminaries with masters in divinity degrees. But as the only woman graduate at Central Baptist Theological Seminary — out of a class of eight master of divinity students — the 29-year-old Jennifer Dault knows getting hired as a pastor likely won’t be easy. “Being a woman, chances are that he (Allyn) will find a job before me, and I want him to have those opportunities,” Jennifer said.