Abstract

Black megachurches are increasingly known for their charismatic pastors, multiple worship services, and unconventional programs. But what are their stances on gender inclusivity? Informed by black liberation and womanist theologies, this mixed-methodological study across 16 black megachurches assesses clergy views on the subject as well as whether their congregations are welcoming and affirming, open, or exclusionary regarding black women in church roles. Results show that most black clergy in the study are open to black women’s participation and leadership; black women hold a myriad of positions in both churches and in church-sponsored secular organizations. When constraints are placed on womanism, it is to encourage male leadership in familial and pastoral roles. In such scenarios, pastors tend to emphasize gender role complementarity rather than equality. However, pastors who most adamantly espouse black liberation and womanist tenets are most likely to be welcoming and affirming of black women’s full participation without caveats to their involvement. Moreover, such churches tend to promote inclusivity of other historically oppressed groups such as sexual minorities and to encourage open discourses about controversial issues among adults and youth in general.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2326-0947
Print ISSN
2326-0939
Pages
pp. 115-143
Launched on MUSE
2015-11-21
Open Access
No
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