Date of Award

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Second Advisor

Elsie P. Jackson

Third Advisor

Pamela Harris

Abstract

Problem. Women pastors in the Seventh-day Adventist Church function under limitations not imposed upon their male colleagues. This study explored the pastoral experiences of 11 Adventist women clergy serving in the United States and what contributed to their longevity in ministry.

Method. This qualitative study followed a narrative design. Data from the purposive sample were obtained through face-to-face, semi-structured interviews. The constant comparative method was utilized to code data into emergent themes. The following methods were utilized to enhance internal validity: triangulation; member checks; clarifying researcher bias; rich/thick description; including negative or discrepant information; and peer debriefing. Two composite women were used to represent the themes from the interviews. The image of what a female pastor with longevity in ministry looks like can be formed by the reader and provides the ability to assess if the results of this analysis fit aparticular situation, thus providing external validity. Hughes's (1945) conceptual framework, Dilemmas and Contradictions of Status, provided further understanding of the findings.

Results. The women in this study show they are responding to the call of God. For many, their entry into ministry and subsequent service involved challenges, a lack of female role models, and juggling multiple roles, notably that of pastor and mother. Their joys revolve around connections with people and making a difference in the lives of individuals. Thoughts of leaving have entered their minds. Ultimately, deep commitment to their pastoral calling overrides thoughts of leaving. A life changed as a result of their work as pastors further solidifies their decision to stay. When speaking of needed supports, they express a desire for greater trustworthiness in church leaders, and appeal for equality infunction, if not ordination.

Conclusions. The women show depth of conviction about their calling. Making adifference in the lives of people is a focal point of their ministry. When challenges come from church members, colleagues, or church leaders, they remember that the authority by which they live their lives exceeds the authority of any earthly power, and until God makes clear to them that they should change course, they will remain pastors.

Subject Area

Seventh-day Adventists--Women clergy

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