Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


This dissertation grows out of an interest in the women who are pastors in formerly Southern Baptist churches. Because they continue to face opposition to their role as pastors I wanted to know the sources of their strength and determination. Specifically, how did feminism and feminist theology influence their decision to be pastors and their continuing ministry?;I interviewed twenty woman pastors in five different states representing two generations of pastors. These women are among the very few who grew up in Southern Baptist churches and are now pastors, since the Southern Baptist denomination has officially banned women from the pulpit since 1984. I found that their experience of call was nurtured in the church and their plans for ministry were encouraged until the plans included being pastors of churches. Faced with opposition, the women claimed their calling, joined networks of support and turned to feminist theology for alternative biblical interpretations, validation of their role as ecclesial leaders, and inspiration for non-hierarchical models of theology and ministry. These pastors embody feminist theology.;This dissertation explores Southern resistance to evangelicalism, the gendered and racial dynamics in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as the post World War II changes wrought by the civil rights, women's movement and women's ordination movements; documents the ways Baptist women employed feminist theory and theology to counter the backlash and Southern Baptist controversy of the 1980s; and relates these women pastors' narratives of call, ordination and ministry.



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