Do female pastors have to be feminists?

As I have adjusted to the life of a minister, I wonder if there are some assumptions that are attached to being a female pastor. In discussing with another female pastor, we both commented as to whether there would be a time when we would be consider preachers rather than female preachers.

The more I encounter people and self-identify as a pastor, I received reactions varying from support to surprise, but with all of them there are certain assumptions that accompany this identity. Because I am pursuing my call to ministry, I have been called a revolutionary. I have been accused of trying to change baptist life especially the divide that has formed between baptists.

In reality there comes a point when I want to explain quite clearly that I have no hidden agenda, I am not trying to be controversial, I am merely trying to be me. At this point in Baptist life to be a female pastor is to be controversial and revolutionary; to be a female pastor is to be a feminist fighting for other women to have the opportunity to be themselves.  While there are many times when I wish the two didn’t have to be so tightly intertwined, I understand that this is where we are in Baptist life. If I am called to the Baptist world and if I am called to preach as a female, then I am also called to continue conversations to expand and expound the viability of women in ministry not as much for my sake, but out of respect for the women who have fought before me and for the women who will come after me.

Merianna Neely

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About the Author
Merianna Neely Harrelson is a third year divinity school student at Gardner-Webb University. She is serving as the Interim Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship in Lexington, SC. She works as Editor-in-Chief of Harrelson Press in Columbia, SC.

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