Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Claire M. Rice

Second Advisor

Elena Bastidas

Third Advisor

Robin Cooper


church, conflict, gender, leadership, ministry, women


The following research was a biographical narrative that examined the lived experiences of male and female church leaders and their perspectives on the social, moral, and religious implications of female church leadership. The purpose of this research was to explore the ideologies and identities of women leaders within the faith ministry, the definitions of ministry and leadership, the role of women in church ministry, and their understanding of marketplace ministry. I employed conflict resolution theories relating to power, change, and mental modeling as the basis of analysis for evaluating the impact of church policies and practices on the utilization of female church leaders. Twelve church leaders were invited to participate in this research, comprised of six women and six men from three different church denominations. Results found that the organizational culture had a mediating impact on gender equality and effectiveness of female church leadership. In a sense, female clergymen undermined and challenged the previously well-established patriarchal power within the church, leading to disruption and interpersonal conflicts. Seven salient themes emerged from the analysis: 1) struggle for gender equality; 2) gender vs. competence; 3) male dominated church culture; 4) gender bias and discrimination; 5) kingdom culture debate; 6) women resisting women, and 7) the significance of voice. The research also introduced the strategies for overcoming the patriarchy with critical consciousness and empowering clergywomen via the REFRESH Model.