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Religions 2011, 2(3), 358-371; doi:10.3390/rel2030358

Female Clergy as Agents of Religious Change?

Church Research Institute, P.O. Box 239, 33101 Tampere, Finland
Received: 27 April 2011 / Revised: 4 August 2011 / Accepted: 12 August 2011 / Published: 17 August 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Women and Religious Authority)
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This article focuses on female clergy as potential agents of change in the Church. I argue that the adoption of female clergy is one of the main factors that cause the Church to change its practices, policies and theological orientation. The first female ministers were ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland in 1988. This is fairly late compared to other Nordic countries. However, the number of female ministers and female students has been growing fast and nowadays about 70 percent of theology students are female.The paper is based on quantitative surveys conducted among the members of the Clergy Union in 2002, 2006 and 2010 (N = about 1,000 each) and among the applicants for university studies in theology in 2010. The research shows that clergywomen are changing the Church in a clearly more liberal direction. They do it in various areas of church life: they change the perception of faith and dogma, the policies of the Church as well as daily practices in parishes. Clergymen are notably more traditional in their orientation, even young clergymen. Therefore it is especially the female clergy who serve as agents of religious change in the Church. View Full-Text
Keywords: clergywomen; female clergy; clergy attitudes; gender; gender roles; liberal and conservative approach; homosexual couples in the Church clergywomen; female clergy; clergy attitudes; gender; gender roles; liberal and conservative approach; homosexual couples in the Church

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Niemelä, K. Female Clergy as Agents of Religious Change? Religions 2011, 2, 358-371.

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