Being an Adventist Pastor's Husband

Romulus Chelbegean and Duane McBride (Behavioral Sciences)

Being an American Adventist Pastor’s Husband: A Qualitative Study

Based on both religious prescriptions and cultural norms, for centuries the role of clergy in Christian churches was traditionally assigned to males only. During its denominational history, the Adventist Church created the masculine pastoral role and its feminine counterpart: the pastor’s wife or “the shepherdess”. However, following the 1970’s feminist movement (Hochschild, 1989), some Protestant Churches began to ordain women. In the last few decades there has been room in Adventism for female pastors. While both the theology of ordination and the issue of gender equality in Adventism are still under scrutiny, according to the last reports (Stele, 2013), currently there are about 320 already ordained (generally as local elders) women pastors in the Adventist worldwide Church out of which about 120 female pastors serve in the North American Division (NAD). In the meantime, there are about 140 Andrews Seminary female students available to fulfill NAD’s quinquennial goal of doubling the number of female pastors in its territory (Bernard, 2013). From a family systems perspective, according to Gender Roles Theory (Parsons, 1954; Money, 1993; Rivers & Barnett, 2011), this new female clergy gender role is expected to create in turn an unprecedented complementary role: the pastor’s husband.  This particular study is intended to explore the novelty, strain and stress (Pleck, 1981; O’Neil, 2008) of the Adventist pastor’s husband role, its potential implications on the marital dynamic of NAD’s Adventist female clergy family and its Adventist religious communities and the implications for seminary training. Given the recent action of Columbia and Pacific Unions to approve and carry out women’s ordination as well as the recent North American Division support for the ordination of women, this study is particularly relevant.

 
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