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"Woman Pastor"- On Being a Woman in a Man's Profession

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image of Journal of Empirical Theology

In a pilot analysis of 14 narrative interviews with women pastors in the Lutheran Church of Bavaria, the mechanisms of the exclusion of women from the pastoral field are interpreted against the background of the gender-specific labour market theory. The division of society and church into two incompatible areas, namely unpaid work within the home and paid work outside the home, is seen as responsible for the current situation. Women pastors face problems when they seek to combine the two areas in their own lives. The study shows ways in which women pastors seek to overcome this division, and the resulting consequences. The study continues with a pastoral theological analysis of the impact of the gender-specific labour market on pastoral theology. The author shows how traditional pastoral theology affirms the mechanisms of this gender-specific division, and calls for a new and more inclusive approach to pastoral work. This new approach would consist, in part, of the restructuring of ministry. In a deeper sense, however, it becomes evident that the very definition of pastoral work needs to be changed. The traditional concepts of "vocation", "service" (Dienst) and "ministry" (Amt) should be replaced by the more objective terms "labour" and "work". This would be a step toward finding new ways of sharing ministry, and to establishing a more just community of women and men in pastoral parish work.


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