Valpo looking for new pastor; women only, please


Valparaiso University is seeking a new pastor for its campus. If you want the job, though, you have to be a woman:

The need for a female pastor was first discussed in 2001, but it was not until last year the effort began in earnest, Cunningham said. He said he had felt the need to hire a representative of the ELCA [=Evangelical Lutheran Church in America] in response to the growing members of that denomination among faculty and students.[…]

Cunningham, who along with Associate Pastor James Wetzstein, is a member of the Missouri Synod, said the new pastor will regularly lead worship as a representative of the ELCA. But 80 percent of the job will involve other types of ministry and counseling work among students and faculty.[…]

The new pastor is being funded with a $3 million gift from a group of anonymous donors, who were sought out after the decision was made to create the position, Cunningham said. The same group is providing another $300,000 to fund the job during the first three years when the endowment money cannot be used. 

Did you catch that last line? That’s $100K per year for this position — which surely does not entail a lot of collateral expenses, so I’m guessing that most of that money goes for salary. If that’s the case, then this female pastor — whoever she may end up being — will probably earn more money than most of the Valpo faculty.

The job description (PDF) justifies the “need” for a woman to fill this position by citing “specific ministry needs”, although the day-to-day responsibilities of the job sound pretty unisex to me. 

It makes me wonder if I’m in the wrong business (although I’m pretty certain I’m in the right gender for me). Say – maybe I can go get ordained, then find some mostly-female school with a lot of female pastors on staff and convince them that they need to have a male minister around. It’s so dumb of an idea that it just might work

Update: I was looking through the documents on this position at VU’s chapel web site, and while the Dean’s letter of introduction (pdf) and the summary job description (pdf) both indicate that the Board of Directors wants the new associate pastor to be a woman, the actual job description (pdf again) from the Board of Directors doesn’t say anything about gender. But I’m guessing that it’s the Board’s job description that potential candidates would read and be enticed to apply for the job, wouldn’t it? If so, then you’d have all kinds of people, probably mostly men, applying for this position with no knowledge that there was a gender preference, only to be told after the fact that they can’t have the job because the Board wants a woman, even though the job description approved and released by the Board doesn’t say so. 

Does that strike anybody besides me as being strange? I mean, if you’re the Board, and you want a woman in the position, why not make sure it says so in the job description that you are posting? (Perhaps the board is willing to “settle” for a man if no women apply?) 

9 Comments

Filed under Higher ed, Life in academia

9 responses to “Valpo looking for new pastor; women only, please

  1. Does it occur to you (as it does to me) to wonder where $3,300,000 came from?

    I mean that is a lot of money… at the same time it isn’t. 3.3K individuals opting to contribute $100 each (even if it is on a scale of $10 a month for ten months) could easily do it… But did it work out to anything like that?

    I would be curious as to where such a donation came from and what groups funded it and what groups funded them. This rather smacks of my Golden Bones theory of endowment and endowment control…

    What do you think?

  2. The newspaper article I linked to indicates that the donors were sought out after the position was created. That sort of makes me think it’s a small group of donors chipping in large sums of money, rather than thousands of donors giving small amounts (or that the ELCA itself is the “group of donors”). Of course the donors are listed as anonymous.

    Although interestingly, the news article doesn’t say that the donors were sought out after it was decided that the new pastor would have to be female, and the official job description (pdf) does not indicate a gender preference. I wonder if the position were created, and then donors were sought out without being told that the person who is hired would must be female. Hmm…

  3. Yea… I read through the article… I wasn’t proposing that a vast amount of small donors was likely or probable…

    Frankly it sounds like institutional money. I mean, do you know a lot of folks who are that passionate about supporting the creation of a chaplaincy for a sectarian minister in a small college (nice one though, my cousin went there, we dropped him off a few times!) run by another sectarian group?

    Now the idea that it was done with anything BUT the intent of creating a position for a female minsiter… Does that make any sense?

    Agendas are at work here.

  4. PS

    I think women pastors are great, as long as the woman is a good pastor and God has called her to that position. And I believe men pastors are great, as long as he is a good pastor and as long as God has called him to that position. We, in the Lutheran church, believe in “the Call” so how is it that we can tell God which half of the human race can be called to a certain position?

  5. PS – It seems to be a function of who they want to take that is considered to be “called”…

  6. @PS: Without getting into doctrinal arguments, two things:

    (1) I think most LCMS people would agree that we do not, in fact, tell God what to do, on any topic whatsoever. So that leaves the question at what we trust as God’s commands to us. The LCMS believes that those commands consist in the Bible and are interpreted faithfully through the Book of Concord, which are pretty clear about women not holding the office of pastor. Indeed, when a person says that it’s OK for women to be pastors, this is tantamount to telling God what to do — in the sense of saying, “You didn’t really say what your Word says.”

    (2) There is a big, big difference on this between the LCMS and ELCA, so it’s awfully hard to talk about what “we Lutherans” believe.

  7. To me this largely sounds like Episcopalian influence.

    They are pretty much the only folks I can think of who have the money and the interest in this sort of thing. Who else would drop $3M or worry about these things?

    Has there been any speculation as to who the “anonymous donors” were?

  8. wendell gee

    are you serious? you can’t think of why a woman is needed for the job? your words: “The job description (PDF) justifies the “need” for a woman to fill this position by citing “specific ministry needs”, although the day-to-day responsibilities of the job sound pretty unisex to me. ”

    ummm…rape, sexual harrassment, incest, unwanted/unplanned pregnancy, anti-choice, body image, anorexia, $0.70 earnings to every man’s $1.00, stereotyping, prejudice, single motherhood, unaffordable women’s health care, etc., etc., etc.

    really, you can’t see where a woman might be needed to offer spiritual counsel to other women and men on these issues?

    you, my friend, need a new pair of glasses.

  9. “rape, sexual harrassment, incest, unwanted/unplanned pregnancy, anti-choice, body image, anorexia, $0.70 earnings to every man’s $1.00, stereotyping, prejudice, single motherhood, unaffordable women’s health care, etc., etc., etc.”

    Wendell – if you are a Wendell (is it Wendy?) – you must be one of the blogospheres most sensitive men, speaking just like a N.O.W. tract, listing off the standard greivances.

    If I had to guess, they aren’t looking for a lady pastor to counsel the women folk on the “anti-choice” crowd.

    None of these matters you list are matters that would be exclusively under the domain of a pastor. A good counselor could help a woman deal with the old “70¢ to the dollar” canard, for example.

    I would suggest what you need a new pair of, but I am a guest here.

    None of these hot topics