The Unsteady Shepherd; or, What the Pastor Experienced

Karin E. Gedge

in Without Benefit of Clergy

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780195130201
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835157 | DOI:

Series: Religion in America

 The Unsteady Shepherd; or, What the Pastor Experienced

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The journals and correspondence of young men entering the Protestant ministry reveal their anxieties about undertaking pastoral work in general and their discomfort and frustration in ministering to women in particular. Formal coursework in the seminary provided insufficient field experience and left the novice pastor deeply worried about his manner, manners, and efficacy. Encounters with women were exceptionally painful, especially when they resisted the clergyman’s exhortations, argued with his theology, or appeared too eager to entertain him. Questioning their own abilities or that of women, young men retreated and avoided women. Even the search for a suitable wife to whom he could delegate his ministry to women generated apprehension, since he was acutely aware that she could “make or mar” his career in the ministry. Whether novices or veteran pastors, many men experienced distance, rather than intimacy or an alliance with women.

Keywords: nineteenth-century Protestant clergymen; pastoral journals; ministry to women; sexuality; pastoral efficacy; pastoral work; pastor’s wife

Chapter.  11964 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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