A little less than five years ago, Martha Simmons, the President of The African American Pulpit, Inc. (a non-profit (501 c3) organization located in Atlanta) and creator and manager of The African American Lectionary, and other well-known ministry efforts, attended a gathering where thousands of African American women clergy were present. It was the Hampton University Ministers' Conference, one of two national, non-denominational, yearly conferences held by African American clergy and yearly attended by at least two thousand women.

After attending Hampton's yearly Women's Session during the conference, Simmons left that gathering asking: "How could so many women still be where women clergy were twenty-five years ago?" She also pondered: "How could at least seven (7) seminary classes of African American women (since her class) not have made more progress in the African American religious community? What had been missed? What was keeping so firmly in place the glass ceiling that blocks the upward climb of African American women clergy?"

The women at that conference were asking the same questions that Simmons and her classmates asked, "How can I get my denomination to pay me what they pay male pastors? How can I find mentors? How can I find a job in ministry? What do I do, if I can't become a pastor in my denomination?

In response, Simmons began holding conference calls with veteran women of color in ministry about the problem. That led her to do research, to find data on the state of employment of women of color in ministry.

Statistics for Latina women could only be culled, with much difficulty, from statistics kept by denominations such as the United Methodists, Presbyterians USA, the United Church of Christ, the Disciples of Christ, and the Unitarian Church.

All employment numbers for women of color compared to those for Caucasian women were abysmal. The numbers for Asian American women clergy, relative to their holding paid positions in churches and denominations, were slightly less than they were for Latina clergy.

The American Baptist Churches U.S.A. reported that as of 2010, it had three hundred and fifty-seven African American women employed in professional positions (which included all manner of positions); they listed 90 Latina women and twenty-six Asian American women. The numbers were lower for the United Methodists, Presbyterians, USA, the United Church of Christ, and the Disciples of Christ.

There were no data on the number of women that the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (NBC USA Inc.) had ordained in the last twenty-five years. Respectively, these are the two largest African American denominations. Also, there were no data on the number of women pastors or the number of women in ministry who were paid employees, in any capacity, in either of these denominations!

After doing this work, Simmons met with Dr. Serene Jones of Union Seminary and asked her to become a partner for the project. She agreed, and the project swiftly moved forward. Simmons then began meeting with Dr. Lisa Rhodes, Dean of Sisters Chapel at Spelman College. Spelman became the third partner of the project. In winter 2017, Spelman was replaced by American Baptist Seminary of the West as a project partner.

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The Survey

After discussions with women in ministry leaders and a comprehensive review of available data, Rev. Martha Simmons developed a survey for women of color in ministry. It was designed to: (1) gain basic information

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