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A Church of Her Own: What Happens When a Woman Takes the Pulpit
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A Church of Her Own: What Happens When a Woman Takes the Pulpit

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  75 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Thirty years after the first group of women was ordained by the Episcopal Church, women are among some of the most vital and successful ministers in all Protestant denominations, even as churches struggle to hold on to their members. Sarah Sentilles enters the lives of female ministers—women of various ages and races, in a range of churches—to paint the first real portrait ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 14th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Nov 11, 2011 Elsa rated it liked it
Contrary to the author's repeated perspective of her own call, I still think she has an axe to grind. It sounds like she may have found some healing in writing. For me, as an ordained woman, these stories tended too severely on the negative with some fantastic hints at wonder and delight. And yet, sexism does exist in the church. It should make us all sad and we must keep telling the negative stories until we transcend them. I just hope we remember to celebrate where things are working.
Aug 25, 2011 Michelle rated it it was ok
Sarah Sentilles is one very angry woman. Although she has reason for her anger I would have preferred if this book offered a few more useful suggestions for dealing with sexism within the church. Mostly it was just an angry rant where the author used the experiences of a lot of other women in ministry to fuel her own fury. There were just a few women who seemed to have positive experiences as ministers received by supportive congregations after being mentored by progressive leaders. Although ...more
Katherine Willis Pershey
Jun 01, 2011 Katherine Willis Pershey rated it it was ok
Shelves: holy-moly
Half of me wants to give it one star, and the other half wants to give it five. A very mixed bag for me.

It isn't about women in ministry. It's about sexist responses to women in ministry. I couldn't help but feel like so much of "what happens when a woman takes the pulpit" was left out because the author, by her own admission, started writing the book because she was angry and disillusioned and wanted to prove how sexist and oppressive the church is.

That being said, I trust that the sexism rep
May 30, 2008 Pat rated it it was amazing
This book reminds me of how hurtful sex discrimination is - the constant message, overt or implied, that you don't belong because of something which is very basic to your identity and which you can't change, your gender. You internalize the belief that there is something wrong with YOU.
I usually don't review books but this was probably my favorite nonfiction book I've ever read. Some theology was problematic for me, but it really made me think and challenged my perception of God. As a supporter of women in ministry, it was wonderful to read stories of women who have stood up against the dominant narrative to follow their calling. So much of this book was insightful, profound, and revealing. I think it's going to stick with me for a long time.
Lacey Louwagie
This book wasn't really what I expected/wanted it to be, and I guess I shouldn't blame it for that. But what I wanted were inspirational stories about the transformational power of women's spiritual leadership (something that I've certainly found to be transformational when I've encountered it.) Instead, it's more a recording of the sexism and inequality women in ministry still face--when it comes to how and when they're hired, what types of jobs they're given, how their parishes and supervisors ...more
Nov 21, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing
"A Church of Her Own" begins with two epigraphs which are haunting in their contrast: (1) the "women should be silent in the churches" text from 1 Corinthians, and (2) a Gospel of Mary passage in which Mary Magdalen tells the twelve disciples, "I will teach you about what is hidden from you." Author Sarah Sentilles explores the tension around gender and Christian religious authority that these two passages reflect by sharing the stories of female and transgender ministers. The people Sentilles ...more
Sarah Sammis
May 08, 2008 Sarah Sammis rated it liked it
Shelves: released, review-copy
A Church of Her Own by Sarah Sentilles is part memoir and part look at the struggles women face when they decide to become priests or ministers.

The book is divided into three main parts: Vocation, Incarnation and Creation. Vocation covers the why behind woman choosing ministry even in the face of the on-going sexism in the different sects and denominations. Incarnation looks at how women ministers are scrutinized for their bodies, their dress, their makeup (or lack of it). Creation finally looks
I loved, loved, loved this book. It took guts to write and the discussion around sexism in the church is long overdue, no matter what the denomination. Women are still not represented in leadership roles in the church unless it's music or children's programs and yet so many women make up the congregation! I grew up in the church and I would've loved to have seen a female pastor or minister up in the pulpit for a change. To see my gender represented not just in words but in form, speaking to ...more
Sep 17, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is extremely well-written and engaging. It's a downer for the first three quarters or so, with lots of stories of totally unacceptable behavior from church folks. Then it gets pretty uplifting when Sentilles starts focusing on examples of exciting new ministries that women are starting and sustaining. I wish everyone would read this, especially people in the church because they will go either "Yes! I'm not alone!" or "Gasp! How can this possibly be going on and what can we do about ...more
Daniel Seymour
Jul 17, 2013 Daniel Seymour rated it it was amazing
Sexism, entrenched religious attitudes, and the struggles of modern faith are inter-related and are well-suited to scholarly works expounding on theory.

This is not one of those books. Instead, Sentilles uses her story and those of others pursuing their calling to explore these issues. Her strong narrative skills fully flesh out these women and their tribulations. In these tales, not in lectures or homily,overlooked parts of our culture are brought to light. The strength of the narrative keeps th
Sep 14, 2014 Diane rated it did not like it
What I thought would be a book about what it is like to be a female cleric instead lost its way about 100 pages in. Sentiles is really writing a manifesto for people who consider themselves to be outsiders and the "new" way they have church. The title has little to do with being a woman in the pulpit and as Sentiles is not ordained, she has little experience in which to draw on. My advice to my clergy friends, is do not waste your time on this.
Apr 21, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it
It was obvious from the get-go that Sentilles wrote at least the first half of the book out of personal anger -- and she admits so. However, she also highlights the Church's institutional sexism -- sexism that tends to be overlooked, rather than looked at critically.

I have mixed feelings on this one. I'm not entirely thrilled about her analysis, but at the same time, I wanted to hear more.
Jul 23, 2008 Cara rated it it was amazing
This is by far the best book I have read about women in ministry. Sentilles weaves the narratives of women from different Protestant traditions with good feminist theology and theory to explore all the intricacies of being a woman in ministry--everything from calling to ordination to benefit negotiation to clothing to dating.
K Kriesel
Dec 11, 2015 K Kriesel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, religion
I'm so grateful for this book, for Sentilles' work, and to have found it! It really resonated with me and perhaps the best part is I've found so many resources and communities and histories through the book.
Jun 22, 2011 Sally rated it liked it
Brings up important issues about the very real discrimination faced by women in ministry from both churches and laity, told through women's experiences; but the narrator's voice, too often combining victimhood and a sense of entitlement, detracted from the message.
Oct 15, 2008 Johanna rated it really liked it
Very good book examining the struggles of young women in church leadership and ministry. While there is definitely a focus on Protestant women, Sentilles does include a chapter on Catholic women's fight for equality in the Church.
Aug 24, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went in expecting to not like this book, but I found it pretty riveting. Good survey of problems modern women face in ordination and as ministers. I have been lucky not to have them, but know lots of women who have. . .
Sep 24, 2012 Amy rated it liked it
A very interesting book. It covers many aspects of ministry and the minister. Ms. Sentilles does not sugar coat anything she says and relays the stories of women clearly hurt by the polity of churches.
Nov 28, 2011 Kourtney rated it it was amazing
Honestly, I didn't finish it. It, along with some events in my personal life, were just making me angrier than I prefer to be in the holiday season. Yep. So, I'm putting it down until 2012.

It was right on, eye-opening, and very readable.
Feb 14, 2010 Tristy rated it really liked it
Shelves: women, spiritual
I am overjoyed that my work with Callie Janoff is featured in this book. We are in the chapter "Minster (n.) vs. Minister (v.)" This book is a great undertaking to share the lives of so many diverse and amazing women in ministry.
Apr 11, 2012 TJ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ministry
Highly recommend. Important information and a tad disturbing, but overall a great read. Though at the end did get a little fru fru
Mar 05, 2009 Jean rated it really liked it
Very interesting view of how women are changing the church is a good way.
Really worth reading to know the frustrations and problems women have in this role.
rebecca hornbach
Apr 20, 2008 rebecca hornbach rated it it was amazing
This is such a powerful book! Each woman's story is fascinating and inspiring - It gives me hope for the future of Christianity.
Apr 12, 2008 Veronica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: feminists
I really liked this book. It was full of love, rage, and anger. Not just a book for those who are interested in the church or religion.
Stephanie McGarrity
Stephanie McGarrity rated it really liked it
Sep 10, 2011
Kirsten Baer
Kirsten Baer rated it really liked it
Sep 07, 2013
Emily rated it really liked it
Dec 30, 2011
Lydia rated it it was amazing
Aug 01, 2011
Annazon Sparkle
Annazon Sparkle rated it really liked it
Nov 17, 2013
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Sarah Sentilles is the author of A Church of Her Own and Taught by America. She is a scholar of religion and earned a bachelor's degree in literature from Yale and a master's of divinity and a doctorate in theology from Harvard. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
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