More women clergy

Published February 1, 2003

Ahmedabad, India

The Gujarat diocese of the Church of North India is now training more women for ordination, despite initial resistance to female clergy.

Sonal Christian became the first woman pastor in the CNI diocese nearly three years ago. Today, four more women are at different stages in their training to become pastors. The bishop of the diocese, Vinod Kumar, said that response to Ms. Christian has been very positive.

The synod of the CNI, which encompasses Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and other traditions, approved women’s ordinations in the 1970s. Initially, however, there was strong resistance from local people.

Ms. Christian is now the pastor of Emmanuel Church of Saraspur, a suburb of Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat and a major industrial centre. The church has 75 families on its rolls.

A key to her success, Ms. Christian said, was her position that other clergy not take her casually because she is a woman. She is the only woman among 81 pastors in the diocese.

Ms. Christian said her desire to become a pastor was spurred by stories her grandmother told her of her grandfather’s work as a pastor “in tough conditions.”


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