Women make up majority of church congregations, but small percent of leadership

Women have often been called the backbone of the Black Baptist Church, making up 70% of the church congregation, according to Pew Research. However, they only makeup a small percent of church leadership.

The Rev. Renee Alston, an associate minister at First Baptist Church of Highland Park in Landover, Maryland, said the belief that women shouldn’t play a role in leading the church is based on old interpretations of Scripture.

“Women were relegated to certain positions and couldn’t serve in certain areas,” Alston said.

The Apostle Paul in the First Letter to the Corinthians said, “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says.”

And the First letter to Timothy 2:12 reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”

Alston said she still knows churches where women are not allowed to preach or sit in the pulpit, but believes times are changing for the better.

“Women make up the largest majority of church congregations, we pay the most money, we do the most service, and now you see a lot of women coming into ministry, in terms of preaching, but also in terms of church leadership,” Alston said.

She said women ministers tend to join organizations that welcome them, such as the Hampton University Minister’s Conference.

And Alston says the door for women ministers will open even wider in the future: “As we study and learn and we get our credentials, and God anoints us, I believe women will be in many leadership positions going forward.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of the church name.

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant is an Anchor and Reporter for WTOP. Over the past 20 years, Stephanie has worked in several markets, including Baltimore, Washington, Houston and Charleston, holding positions ranging from newscaster to morning show co-host.

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