Two weeks ago, the Assemblies of God General Council elected a woman to its executive leadership. After more than 100 years in existence, Ohio minister Donna Barrett now holds the role of Assemblies of God general secretary, the third-highest position in the denomination.
In May, the Foursquare Church’s Tammy Dunahoo ran unsuccessfully for the denomination’s presidency. If Dunahoo would have been elected, she would have been the first female president since the denomination’s founder, Aimee Semple McPherson.
Though women have largely been absent from denominational leadership structures, that women have been allowed to preach from the beginning of the movement makes them unique among Protestant traditions.
Historically, Pentecostals “didn’t prefer the traditional method of leadership identification,” said Leah Payne, the author of Gender and Pentecostal Revivalism: Making a Female Ministry in the Early Twentieth Century. “They did, in fact, reject things like seminary.”
People preferred calling because it existed outside of these types of structures and institutions.
“Plus you could be five years old and receive a calling,” said Payne.
Leah Payne joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss why women have struggled to advance past the pastorate, the unique ways Pentecostals understand church leadership, and why many Pentecostal churches have pastor couples that lead churches together.
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