Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Solomon Waigwa, PhD

Second Advisor

Joseph Kim, PhD


The thesis of this research is that the continued survival and influence of the Black Church hinges on the level of access and sustainability of women in senior leadership roles, emphasizing the historically protected position of senior pastor. It has become urgently necessary to move the needle beyond engaging in the perpetual debate about the role of women in ministry, and towards solutions that address the unique issues of this contemporary era. This era is characterized by a collision of the rise in women occupying senior leadership roles, increases in social justice concerns, and the unanticipated post-pandemic ramifications that have left pulpits empty and closed churches across the United States.

This research proposes an infiltration to the mass terrain of discourse deliberating women pastors, by causing a disruption in how the Black Church actively thinks about this issue. The focus is not to debate the age-old question of if women can pastor, but to examine a solution-based approach that increases effective leadership of the Black Church through the access and sustainability of women pastors. This approach is inspired by ideas presented by Bishop T. D. Jakes on disruptive thinking and is grounded in a theology of grace that recognizes that those who are called to pastor, male or female, operate through the grace of God to fulfill the mission of God on earth.

Also, this research seeks to add to the sparse recorded history of Black women who serve as senior pastors and to uncover principles that promote sustainability. Three access paths are examined and include church starters, women called through legacy, and those who follow a traditional path of access. The pastoral journey of eighteen women who serve as senior pastor of a Black Baptist church are chronicled and analyzed to develop guiding principles for access and sustainability