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Changing today's church

RESTRICTED: Women feel there is a barrier within the UK Church

CHURCHES ACROSS Britain are being urged to take steps to make their congregations places where women can flourish, after new research released on International Women’s Day revealed that 62 per cent of women have experienced sexism in the UK Church.

The Minding the Gap report, published by the Sophia Network, found that institutional sexism was also seen as the number one barrier for women in church leadership in the UK, identified as such by 53 per cent of respondents in the survey.

The report also highlighted a number of other barriers facing women in leadership in the Church, including a lack of fe- male mentoring and leaders (46 per cent); and a lack of theological understanding of women and men working in partnership for the gospel (42 per cent).

The report surveyed more than 1,200 women communities in order to paint a comprehensive picture of what it is like to be a woman in the Church in UK and Ireland.

Following the survey findings, the Sophia Network is encouraging churches to sign up to its Minding the Gap Manifesto – eight commitments to making their congregations places of gender equality.

Dr Claire Rush, vice president of Girls’ Brigade International and vice-chair of the Sophia Network, said: “The #MeToo campaign shows that gender equality has still not been achieved, and it’s heart- breaking to see that the Church, which should be a liberating and hope-filled community, remains a place in which some women are experiencing sexism.

“Our hope and prayer is that leaders will take up the chal- lenge posed by our research to make their churches spaces in which women can flourish by being released into their God-given giftings, becoming all that they have been created to be.”

The Sophia Network was started in 2007 and exists to empower and equip women in leadership, and to champion the full equality of women and men in the Church.

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