Changing leadership roles of African-American women in the African Methodist Episcopal Church: A case study

Emma Frances Kearse-Reid, Fordham University


The vocation of the pastor has become more challenging in today's society, especially, if one is a woman. This study examines the challenges confronting women as leaders, undertaking hierarchal leadership positions in an organized religious institution of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Three African-American women leader pastors were interviewed to determine what life experiences have influenced their career choice in ministry. Transformational leadership theory guides this study, as historical methodology is employed to investigate their calling into faith. By employing a historical case study methodology and applying a transformational leadership theory that is grounded in Weber (1947), the researcher discovered unique life and career experiences of three African-American church women that facilitated the attainment of a pulpit as pastor in the AME church. But, their success was not free of obstacles and problems. These African-American women leaders were often confronted with biases that prevail in the patriarchal vocational ministry. In fulfilling the requirements for second ordination, these church women leaders have witnessed male ministers being assigned to large thriving charges/churches, while they are assigned to small struggling charges, often in far away places from their homes. The following implications and recommendations resulted from this study: (a) a combination of leadership skills, hard work, and faith is required, (b) extensive preparation and training, and (c) the personal relationships of unique life experiences and self-efficacy. The recommendations for successful pastorate is provide ministerial mentoring support for new (a) pastors, (b) develop an affiliation between women pastors and nearby universities to continue leadership development, and (c) continue striving to improve women pastor's leadership in church and society.

Subject Area

Clergy|African Americans|Womens studies|Gender

Recommended Citation

Kearse-Reid, Emma Frances, "Changing leadership roles of African-American women in the African Methodist Episcopal Church: A case study" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3255010.