Women in Ministry

Women leaders are vital to our work together as a church.

“We can’t be the whole church for the sake of the gospel without the presence, the gifts, and the leadership of both men and women.”— Bishop Tim Smith,  “Seriously?”

50th Anniversary of Ordained Lutheran Women

In 2020, the ELCA celebrated the 50th anniversary of U.S. Lutheran churches' decision to ordain women, and at the 2022 NC Synod Gathering, the North Carolina Synod commemorated 50 (+2) years of the gift of women in ordained ministry in the ELCA.

For the 50+ years of women's ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its predecessor bodies. For the black, Indigenous, Women of color and LGBTQIA+ pastors who have been called by God to serve this church, for the vibrancy they bring, the wisdom they share, and the Word they proclaim. For the witness of Mary Magdelene, the dance of Miriam, the hospitality of Lydia, the prayer of Mary, the discernment of Deborah, the courage of Rahab, and the faithfulness of our biblical foremothers.
We rejoice and give thanks to God. 

(from the 2022 Synod Gathering Litany of Thanksgiving)

The Slay Factor: Celebrating the Ministry of the Rev. Earlean Miller

The Rev. Earlean Miller became the first African-American woman ordained ad a pastor in all of Lutheranism in North Americain 1979. Her first call was Prince of Peace, Greensboro, in the NC Synod where she served from 1979-1984.

The Slay Factor
The NC Synod teamed up with producer (and Rev.) Lenny Duncan and ANKOS Films to tell the story of the first black woman ordained in the Lutheran church, the Rev. Earlean Miller. This film features the Rev. CeCee Mills, the Rev. Beverly Wallace, Dr. Shanitria Cuthbertson, and Amie Haith. Watch the film.

Pastor CeCee Mills is featured in the thumbnail for this video.

“I knew all along I had the inclination toward a church career. I guess I just got brave enough to make that change."
— The Rev. Earlean Miller

Women in Ministry on TikTok

International Women Leader Scholar, Beulah Yusuf, Graduates from L-R

@nclutheran "We’ve had students who have taken bold steps to change the world, sometimes together." -International Women Leader scholar, Beulah #ncsynod #elca ♬ original sound - North Carolina Synod, ELCA

Lutheran Women Celebrate 50+ Years of in Ordained Ministry

@nclutheran For all the ways women have pushed this church in new directions; for the distinctive gifts each woman brings, from her culture, her gender, her sexuality and far beyond, We rejoice and give thanks to God. #ncsynod #nclutheran #elca #femaleclergy #clergy #womeninministry #pride #pridemonth #clergywomen #clergy #rosteredministers #deacon #deacons #pastor #pastors #pastorsappreciation #womenofthebible #womenoftheword #womenshistory #herstory #lgbtq ♬ الصوت الأصلي - Yousef Ashraf

Pastor Jennifer Shimota Leads NC Synod Convocation Worship


This video created by the NC Synod has reinforced the need to have hard and healthy conversations around the reality for many of our women in ministry.

To guide these conversations, check out the companion discussion guide. It is designed to be used in a group setting with a facilitator. The guide shares the story behind the video, provides for conversation and closes with a litany of lament and commitment.

Following the work of the "Seriously?" video, male seminarians, rostered leaders, and retired clergy penned an open letter to Bishop Smith stating, "we do not desire to interview for the position of pastor with any congregation who refuses to consider extending a call to a rostered leader who is female."

Gender Justice & Inclusion

50th Anniversary Survey
Explore the results from the most recent survey on gender and race disparities in the ELCA ministry of Word and Sacrament. Although some disparities are decreasing, the ELCA still has significant disparities. With every major anniversary of U.S. Lutheran churches’ decisions to ordain women, the ELCA studies experiences in ministry so that the whole church can foster equity among all ELCA-rostered ministers.

Gender Justice Boundary Education
In July of 2019, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women, the bishops of Region 9 developed the “Region 9 Bishops’ Relational Agreement for boundaries, candidacy and call process.” The introductory paragraph of that document states:

Committed to always reforming for the health of leaders, vitality of congregations, and the flourishing of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we agree to work together as a region to address systemic issues facing rostered ministers who are women.