Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies (PhD)

Degree Level



Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies


Calvin White

Committee Member

Anna Zajicek

Second Committee Member

Luis Restrepo


Black Ordained Women Ministers, Feminism, Marginalization, Matriarch, Patriarch, Racialized Sexism


This dissertation sought to understand the living experiences of Black Ordained Women in the Black Baptist Church. The study employs a phenomenological perspective and interviews to gather the voices and lived experiences of ordained Black women ministers who have served in the Black Baptist Church at various times. Womanist Theology and Black Feminism form the theoretical basis of the study. Black ordained women interviewed in this study are currently or formerly associated with the Antioch District Missionary Baptist Association, the Antioch District Congress, and the Regular Arkansas Congress of Christian Education. Although some Black ordained women remain with the Black Baptist Church, others have gone to other churches to pursue leadership positions. Using phenomenological interviews to collect the data and crafted stories approach, this study centers on the experiences of Black women ministers within the Church to better understand the challenges and institutional structures they may have encountered in their roles. The study focused on two groups of Black ordained women clergy—ministers and senior pastors. The participants' ages varied from 46 to 70, covering the age range established in the participants' criteria. Five ministers of the Black Baptist Church comprise one group. The second group comprises two pastors. One pastor is affiliated with the Black Baptist Church. Another pastor left the Black Baptist denomination and became a member of another denomination. She did not leave the Baptist Church to pursue a senior leadership role as a pastor; however, her beliefs no longer aligned with the Baptist doctrine. The research explored the limited power Black Baptist ordained women possess when it comes to being considered and participating in the senior-level cleric decision-making process. In their in-depth interviews, both groups of Black Baptist ordained women ministers voiced their lived experiences concerning the patriarch's senior cleric decision-making processes within the Black Baptist Church. There are four significant contributions to this study. First, the study contributes detailed, in-depth information about the challenges and barriers that seven ordained Black Baptist women ministers faced and still encounter as they seek gendered occupations in the Black Baptist Church. Secondly, this study is the collective and practical perspectives from the participants’ voices. Black women can take the disparities they encounter to develop and implement strategies to address those issues at the local, state, and national governing bodies of the National Black Baptist Convention. Thirdly, Black male pastors, senior leaders, and congregations can use this study’s findings to better understand and assist in demarginalizing the disparities participants encounter as they seek senior leadership roles within the church and conventions. Fourthly, the participants unanimously indicated education is key to dismantling the myths and misinterpretation of scriptures when it comes to leadership roles Black ordained women can hold in the Black Baptist Church. The primary focus of the training is to provide teachings on how to recognize gender and racialized sexism biases, remove barriers, and address disrespect issues associated with Black women seeking leadership roles within the Black Baptist Church.