GCSRW celebrates 50 years of ministry with launch of new resource
November 1, 2022 / By UNY Communications
The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women is marking its 50th anniversary with the release of the Welcoming a Woman Pastor learning module. The self-paced, online resource guides local churches through the onboarding, orientation and set-up process when introducing a female pastor appointed to serve their congregation.
“Despite women being ordained in our denomination for more than 50 years, many continue to find the orientation to a new church difficult and often lacking in hospitality,” stated the Rev. Pamela Pirtle, GCSRW’s senior director of leader development in the resource’s introductory video. “We created this resource that outlines the steps needed to ensure everyone involved in the appointment process from bishops, district superintendents, staff-parish relations committee and clergy members [to ensure they] are fully aware of best practices for a successful transition of clergy.” Each role’s steps in the process are addressed in individual chapters.
Bishop Tracy S. Malone, the presiding Bishop of The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, expanded on additional ways this resource can be helpful. She stated, “The Welcoming a Woman Pastor is a practical resource that equips local churches for receiving their first woman pastor and can be useful for all pastoral transitions. Sessions include helpful guidance for welcoming lay women staff members as well.”
The resource provides downloadable handouts such as a checklist of helpful reminders for the transition period and onboarding discussion questions.
It also follows the story of pastoral transitions at Martin First United Methodist Church in Martin, Tennessee. Retired Rev. Randy Cooper shares the concerns he had for his congregation when it came time for him to retire. Participants are then introduced to the Rev. Amanda Crice, who speaks to how Rev. Cooper helped to encourage her in taking over pastoring duties. She also shares struggles and feelings of vulnerability that she's encountered in the midst of her transition as the church’s first woman pastor.
“I think it is important to state how needed this resource is and why it’s the perfect choice for launching us into our 50th year of ministry,” shared Dawn Wiggins Hare, General Secretary for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. “There are still many churches that resist a woman pastor as their senior pastor. Other churches are open to the concept but have never had a woman clergy member. Then when the congregation does receive a woman pastor, there can still be a lot of bias and resistance.”
The Welcoming a Woman Pastor resource is available at GCSRW.org.
Local churches or annual conferences needing additional resources or support are encouraged to contact the GCSRW team directly.