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FMC Women's Dissertation Corner

Are you a FM woman whose dissertation is missing from this list? Let us know and we will add it! (We would also be happy to add dissertations written by men addressing gender equity.)
Rev. Catherine M. Stonehouse, PhD

"Responsible curriculum development for moral education calls for attention to behavioral changes, not just in the adult learning situation, but out where parents and teachers transact with children and young people in the events of life.”

Rev. Jean Gramento, DMin

"The saga of Free Methodist women in ministry remains largely uncompiled as a readily available documented source. Historians along with others can benefit from an accurate, interestingly written history which conveys not only these women’s contributions to the denomination’s ministries, but will also be a vehicle to express the confusion, tension, and frustration which sometimes accompanied their attempts to live out their calling, to ordained ministry in particular.”

Bishop Bates, Carollyn Ellis, Rev. Dr. Cathy Stonehouse

"Based on our findings, the study committee recommends that the Board of Administration take the following actions. 1. Recognize the special sensitivities of the women in ministry issue. We counsel grace on all sides. 2. Request all conferences to study the salaries of their ministers with particular attention to the salaries of women clergy to be sure that the women are receiving salaries commensurate with their contribution to the ministry of the churches in which they serve. 3. Have denominational leaders work with women clergy to develop awareness raising and instructional seminars and present those seminars in gatherings of superintendents and pastors. The seminars would help male and female clergy better understand the perspectives of one another and how to work more effectively together for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. 4. Have denominational leaders enlist the assistance of women clergy to work with superintendents providing the superintendents with ideas that they will use to help churches prepare to accept a woman pastor. 5. Encourage conference and denominational leaders to enhance communications in the denomination so that clergywomen and clergymen perceive that women’s voices are heard and do make a contribution. 6. Call all who plan conference, denominational, and local church events to regularly have, as a public model, both men and women leading together. 7. Commission the development of a study guide on the biblical understanding of women’s roles in the church. 8. Establish a support system for women in ministry that includes mentoring and networking, support from other women and male colleagues. 9. Request conferences to provide support and scholarships for women clergy to attend inspirational and enrichment events that are equitable with the support provided for clergymen. 10. Order the continued monitoring of trends in the leadership of women in the church, both lay and clergy women. 11. Make this study of clergywomen an on-going research project to include a follow up survey in 3 – 5 years, using the same questionnaire for comparative analysis."

Christy Mesaros-Winckles, PhD
Winner of the Dissertation of the Year Award for 2012 from the Religious Communication Association!

“As my dissertation has illustrated, the rhetoric of gender roles and male headship is not a new development in evangelical culture. It must be critiqued from both a current and a historical context. Understanding the present without understanding the influence of the past will only generate lopsided research. As this chapter’s opening story about ordained Free Methodist women shows, there is a lack of knowledge about rhetorical history within one’s own denomination. My research lays the groundwork for others to resolve this challenge.”

Rev. Roberta Mosier-Peterson, DMin
This dissertation has been made into a movie, which you can find here.

“.........It is important for the church to face gender bias that remains. In order for change to occur, there must be an acknowledgement that gender bias causes much pain for female pastors. There is great need to change the environment, to aggressively resource, and to arrange mentorships for women in church leadership. It is time for the church to grow into greater faithfulness regarding gender equity. This will result in greater health and effectiveness not only for women clergy, but for the Free Methodist Church, USA, as a whole. This is a wholeness that is intended by God for the church.”

Rev. Sheila Houston, DMin

With regards to general assumptions about male-female differences in leadership styles, Dr. Houston’s study found “differences in the measures of only four of those areas: (1) More men than women manifested tendencies to use power over the lay members of the congregation. (2) More women than men were trying to empower their lay members to master their own spiritual lives and congregational affairs. (3) Men were more legalistic than women in dealing with ethical issues. (4) More men than women preferred making decisions using formal and rational criteria.”

“Everyone’s voice matters to enact the kingdom of God. To be able to practice theology in culturally nuanced ways that truly impact communities, people from diverse backgrounds and both genders need to be empowered to speak into leadership, programs, and systems. When these voices are filtered through the existing predominant paradigm, the kingdom of God becomes homogeneous, and thus, less than God’s intention from Genesis through Revelation.”

“The shalom community loves God first, and then focuses on loving one another as Christ loves them. The shalom community must be focused on practices that bring healing, rather than harm. The shalom community will join God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in the unity of Christ to love God and one another, and do this through the lens of paradise, practice, and patience.”

Rev. Deborah D. Smith

"I see three areas that need to be addressed in the future by the denominational leadership of the Free Methodist Church regarding their women in ministry: 1). Increased support and encouragement of F.M. women in ministry; 2). Improved education on women in ministry at denominational, conference and local church levels, and 3). Increased visibility and placement of women in ministry and leadership positions within the church.”

Rev. Delia Nüesch-Olver, PhD

“Whether this new wave of [Latino] missionaries comes under the auspices of a denomination or not, for the sake of the harvest, the church in the United States could prepare people and organizations to receive and to empower these new missionaries. There could be a continuum of support, backing, and collaboration: from being good brokers by helping Latino pastors better serve their own Latino communities to developing support systems similar to the ones for Western missionaries overseas. Some assistance would be simple personal, relational, intentional encounters. The other end of the continuum would require major organizational shifts and adjustments.”

Bishop Linda J. Adams, D.Min

“When I arrived as a new pastor, I found it very beneficial for the church leaders to have an ‘outside’ diagnosis of their health. As a newcomer, I did not have to be the prophetic voice, calling people to recognize their need for spiritual renewal. Their own answers on the NCD survey did that!”

Beth K. S. Whiting, PhD

Dr. Whiting has also created a 20-page summary of her research entitled “Second-Generation Gender Discrimination and the Stained Glass Ceiling.”

Dr. Whiting’s study proposes the following steps to promote equity: change organizational dynamics, alter unhealthy norms, amplify female voices, support innovation, implement women’s leadership development initiatives, create a Center for Gender Equity, and encourage benevolent male advocacy.

Jesus Caesar: A Roman Reading of John 18:28—19:22, PhD, University of Wales Trinity St. David, 2017.

“Latin use in inscriptions shows evidence of intersections between Roman and Greek languages and culture during the first century CE. Although the provenance for the Gospel of John is not definitively determined, this evidence is present in each proposed location as well as in the text of the Gospel itself (e.g., πραιτώριον in 18:28, 33 and 19:9). This suggests, based on Umberto Eco’s semiotics, that the Roman cultural encyclopaedia could shed light on the Gospel of John, particularly in the Roman trial narrative for a Roman-aware audience.”

Rev. Jill Richardson, DMin

"The sermon monologue hasn’t changed in essence or execution for centuries. Now, however, it has come up against a force that might change everything—the information overload age. Our electronic culture has become less attentive, more apt to question facts, less interested in one person’s thoughts, more interested in discovering varying opinions, less willing to sit at the feet of an expert, and more collaborative. This reality will inevitably clash with our history and traditions of preaching. If we desire to disciple all our people and maintain their robust faith, it is time to experiment with new preaching methods to disciple and reach them. A pastoral teaching style that emphasizes interaction, hands-on activity/application, sensory detail, community, and collaboration better disciple our congregations, especially young adults, toward a robust, active faith."

Free Methodist Church in Canada

This report has a detailed set of recommendations for FMC leadership at every level, as well as a bibliography

“as we consider the recommendations this task force is making, it should be noted that almost everything we heard, analyzed, digested and are proposing will benefit all leaders in our denomination, not just the women, and will make us stronger. We would like to further note that it was the leaders we interviewed who made this point!”

Dr. Kathryn Lewis Mowry
Trevecca Nazarene University

Published in Didache 23.1
Although this is not a study on or by the FMC,
we thought that the results were similar enough to our experiences that they were worth reporting.

"Nearly all the women in this study have common stories of difficult experiences with lay persons in congregations. They have had people walk out of services when they have preached, leave churches when they have pastored, and tell them to their faces that women should not be pastors. For the sake of this article, however, I have chosen to move past these common experiences with lay persons in local churches to address common experiences of women in the context of relationship with their ministerial colleagues and district leadership."

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