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Evangelical Lutheran Women

302 - 393 Portage Avenue,
Winnipeg, Manitoba. R3B 3H6

Executive Director: Ruth Vince [e-mail]
Phone: (204) 984-9160.
Fax: (204) 984-9162.
Publication: Esprit [e-mail]
Website: www.elw.ca





The Study

Sponsor: Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)

Steering committee:

  • Rev. Sonja I. Free, Pastor, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Maple, Ontario, & Member, National Church Council
  • Rev. Cynthia G. Halmarson, Assistant to the Bishop, ELCIC
  • Rev. Sylvia R. Schmidt, Pastor, Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Burnaby, BC & Dean of the Greater Vancouver Conference, BC Synod
  • Rev. Dr. Faith E. Rohrbough, President, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (advisory)

Dr. Dianne Kieren, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Human Ecology, University of Alberta

Study purpose:

To describe the experiences of women serving in ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and its predecessor church bodies over the past twenty-five years (1976-2000)

Study goals:

For women ordained in the ELCIC:
that the experience of their ministry be collected; that the church hear the voices of the women who have served in ordained ministry; that women claim the journey they are taking in ordained ministry; that the history of the ordination of women in the ELCIC and predecessor churches be recorded.

For seminaries:

that the boards, administration and faculties of the seminaries become aware of the experiences of women in their education and training; that the seminaries identify aspects of preparation for ordination that should be changed, strengthened or introduced.

For synod committees for theological education:

that they will become aware of the experiences of women in their preparation and training; that the synods will identify and provide the most appropriate and effective means of support for women candidates.

For synod staff personnel:

that persons responsible for the call process be informed about and sensitized to issues that pertain to the call of women to congregations in order to better support congregations and pastors; that persons responsible for support of pastors and congregations be informed about and sensitized to issues of support for clergy women, especially in their early years of service.

For the ELCIC:

that the church as a whole will hear the stories of women in ordained ministry; that the church will recognize its slowness in acknowledging the stories of women as vital to the history of the church; that congregations will be encouraged to embrace the gifts of ordained women; that a factual history of the ordination of women be recorded and made available; that the church adopt policies and implement practices that include the leadership of women in congregations, synods, the national church and institutions of the church.

For ecumenical partners:

that the experiences of ordained women in the ELCIC will be shared with the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Church of Canada, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Council of Churches, and other ecumenical partners; that the experiences of the ELCIC will encourage other churches in the Lutheran World Federation to ordain women into the Lutheran ministry.

Type of study: Multi-method: Survey and qualitative interviews (personal interview, focus group, journals, and e-mail interactions)

Time line:
Survey completed between June, 2000 and January, 2001

The Respondents


  • All 120 living women who had served as ordained ministers in the ELCIC or predecessor bodies in the period from 1976-2000 were contacted. These included 98 women currently on the ELCIC roster, with the balance divided among those transferred to other church bodies and those no longer on the roster.
  • 84 of these women (70%) completed the survey.
  • Of those who completed the survey, 63% (53/84) were willing to complete personal interviews of some kind: e-mail, personal or telephone interview, journal, photo record, focus group. Because of the number wanting to participate in this way, and the cost of transcribing the number of personal interviews were limited and e-mail was offered as an alternative way of being interviewed in a conversation manner
  • Of those willing to complete personal interviews 24 actually followed through when contacted (29%) as follows: four journals, one personal interview, six focus group, and thirteen e-mail interaction. These interviews were analyzed separately from the survey data.


  • 49% resided in cities of 100,000-500,000 population, 27% in rural, remote and towns less than 5000 population, the balance in smaller cities
  • Majority raised as Lutherans
  • Average age was 49.3 years with range of 27-72 years
  • 65% were married, and of these, 31% were married to another clergyperson
  • 18% did not have children (this includes both married and single respondents), 5.6% of married respondents did not have children For those who did have children, average number was 2.4, with a range of 1-6 children
  • The average age of the children was older given the wide range of ages of the respondents (average age of first child was 25.8 years with a range of 2-50)
  • 69% of the respondents reported that the highest level of education they had completed was a Master of Divinity, 11% a Bachelor of Theology, 3.6% a Master of Sacred Theology, 3.6% a Ph.D. degree, 1.2% another Masters degree, and 1.2% other degrees.
  • Over half of the respondents were currently involved in full time ministry, and had been in this status for an average of 4.3 years
  • Respondents reported working an average of 46.6 hours per week at their current job (range 10-80 hours) *Note: this included those working both full and part time. Married respondents worked 42.4 hours, single respondents 53.5 hours
  • On average, women spent the following time on other activities (in hours): 4.6 unpaid volunteer/ community activities, 12.1 household tasks, 13.5 family or social relationships, 52.7 own personal care (including sleep), 6.4 personal care of others, 9.6 personal leisure and 8.6 hours on other activities.
  • 62% of the respondents who currently had a call noted that their salary was at synod guidelines for their experience, 21% above guidelines and 16% below guidelines

Background and Preparation for Ordained Ministry

In full communion with The Anglican Church of Canada
© Copyright 2007 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada