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Ordained Ministry of women in the Church of Scotland: the first forty years

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  • Br Christianity
  • Bv Practical Theology


This thesis reports on an extensive qualitative study of women ministers in the Church of Scotland. It examines the literature in relation to women clergy in other denominations in the UK and the USA and considers ways in which the Church of Scotland clergy are similar and dissimilar to their counterparts. The research included a quantitative survey, the examination of data from the Church of Scotland Yearbook and thirty one ‘ministry-story’ interviews. The Survey and the Yearbook produced basic demographic data about women ministers in the Kirk showing an increasing age profile and a shortage of younger women ministers. The survey also found that women ministers considered themselves to be different from male ministers most especially in the fields of collaboration and leadership style. The interviews considered factors in the path to ministry, women ministers in the exercise of their ministry, relationships with congregations, colleagues and the institutional Church. Whilst there was considerable progress in terms of the acceptance of women’s ministry by congregations and the wider community, there was also evidence of a lack of acceptance from some male ministers and an unwillingness to confront the issue on the part of the institution. Women ministers consider there to have been some progress towards integration of women’s ministry within the Church of Scotland but are also uncertain about the future and whether a backlash against women will be experienced. Although women have been ordained to ministry of word and sacrament within the Church of Scotland since 1968, this represents the first major study of women ministers within the Kirk and will provide a background for further study and exploration.

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