Update to YCWI Membership Policy

Young Clergy Women International has been, since its beginning in 2007, an organization for the professional development and care for the youngest of clergy women. Eleven years later, our commitment to the community of women under the age of forty who serve as clergy continues.

YCWI exists to equip young women with spiritual and practical tools for ministry, to collaborate with one another both online and in person, and to transform young clergy women so that our ministry can transform the Church and the world.

The Board of YCWI has made it a top priority for this organization to be a place where clergy women of increasing diversity can find a supportive professional community. We have recognized that our qualifications for membership around the definition of “clergy” were framed from a predominantly American, protestant, mainline, white context. While this particular definition of clergy served us well in the past, it has become a hindrance to the ever increasing demographic of women around the world who serve as clergy, particularly to our colleagues of color and those from contexts outside of North America.

Therefore, as of September 1, 2018, YCWI’s new membership policy is as follows:

Membership in Young Clergy Women International is open to those who meet the following requirements:

  • Young
    • Our membership is open only to those who have not reached their 40th birthday.
  • Clergy
    • Christian clergy are individuals whose self-identified gifts for ministry have been affirmed, supported, and lifted up by a community of faith, such that the term “clergy” is a meaningful and appropriate term for their role in their particular tradition, and who can provide documentation/endorsement of such support.
    • Women who are not accountable to a faith community, an institution, or a higher governing body (such as a denomination), are not eligible for membership.
    • Women who are serving as lay pastors, temporary ministers, student ministers, or interns are not eligible for membership, unless they fall under the exception categories.
    • Advanced theological education or training is typical, but not required.
    • Exceptional Membership may be applied for by those who are serving within a denomination where they may not seek authorization or affirmation of their call to ministry in a clerical capacity. Exceptional memberships are considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Women
    • We use an inclusive definition of “women” and “female.” All who identify and minister as women are eligible for membership, including trans women and cis women. No prospective member will be required to provide medical or legal documentation of her gender identity. Genderqueer and non-binary people who feel that their membership in a women’s organization is appropriate are also eligible.

Women wishing to affiliate with the organization must complete the online application form, clearly identifying their ministry location, denomination (if applicable), date of birth, date of start of affirmed service (e.g. ordination, consecration), and any relevant theological degrees, training, certificates, or credentials. The Registrar shall verify information through whatever means are available.


Come to Chicago!

I bounced around in my presbytery for a little bit too as I tried to find my footing and my niche. As I got to know the local Presbyterian pastors, I found great colleagues. I also discovered how drastically I changed the room just by walking into it. For example, the monthly pastors’ lunch gathering was formerly all ordained males over the age of 50. Enter a 20-something newly ordained female.

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A New Column: Along the Way

All these young women, sorting out their life choices and starting to think that ministry just might be the life for them.

Here at Fidelia’s Sisters, we’ve always celebrated young women in ministry. It’s our purpose for being: to support one another in our calling and to share the trials and tribulations of life in the church, or the academy, or the mission field, or the hospital room – wherever it is God has called us. For the most part, we’ve featured writers who are ordained clergy, and young (which we define as under forty and ordained before the age of 35).

But what about those women who aren’t here yet?

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A New Internet Home

Nearly five years ago, in the heat of Washington DC, a group of young clergy women gathered for the very first time to imagine what bonds a group of young clergy women could form.

We started with a conference. We practiced our preaching. We inspired each other, but the conversation continued after most suitcases were packed. A group of 10 young clergy women remained. As Katherine Willis Pershey recounts, most of these women came for the free airfare. 

It was there among those women with small continuing education funds that Fidelia's Sisters began.

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Open Editorial Board Positions

Fidelia's Sisters is seeking new editorial board members! Editorial board members each serve as a column editors for the e-zine you're currently reading, soliciting and editing pieces for monthly publication. Editorial board members also participate in monthly online editorial chats. Editorial board members are part of the larger Young Clergy Women project board, the other half being the community board. As a aboard member member, column editors commit to meeting in person once a year, if at all possible, and serving on committee along with their sister community board members.

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New Year, New Beginnings

The trusty board of The Young Clergy Women Project has been busy this year coming up with new and exciting opportunities for us to be (and fund!) our community. Here are a few of the up and coming opportunities that you might want to be a part of:

  • TYCWP’s 2010 Conference! Our conference will run from later afternoon/evening of June 27, 2010, through noon on June 30, 2010 at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia.
    Need a chance to learn and connect with young clergy women like yourself?  Want the chance to re-examine, revitalize, and recharge with others who share your journey?  Then THIS is your conference.

 We'll be blessed by the coaching of the Rev. Melissa Clodfelter and the Rev. Beth Kennett and the guidance of other colleagues as we consider what leadership looks like in 2010 and how we engage that leadership in powerful, balanced ways.

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Fidelia’s Sisters is turning two!

Watch out, world; Fidelia’s Sisters is entering its terrible twos! We trust the year ahead will not involve too many temper tantrums—though the occasional spirited argument in the comments section of an article is always welcomed.

In the last year, we said goodbye to Kate Smanik Moyes, our assistant editor whose job change and new responsibilities demanded her attention. We welcomed Lara Blackwood Pickrel, our new editor for the Divine Details column.

We thank all of you who wrote for and read the e-zine in the last year. We editors are continually impressed by the quality of submissions and the interesting conversations that happen in our comments section and about articles on the Young Clergy Women Community Ning! boards.

The editors of each section have chosen their favorite articles from the last year, which represent the breadth and width of the experiences of our community.

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New Year…New Opportunities

has The Young Clergy Women Project changed your life? (That would be the organization behind Fidelia’s Sisters.) This is your
chance to tell the world by participating in our New Catchphrase
Contest. Simply get your creative juices flowing and come up with a
slogan that sums up what TYCWP is all about. Previously we’ve
used “funded by the Louisville Institute and powered by faith, verve,
chocolate, and really great shoes.”

Since our grant has ended, now is
a great time to dream up a whole new phrase that captures who we are
and what we do. If you are a member of The Young Clergy Women Project, please send your submissions to [email protected] by January 31 or look for the threads to post your ideas on our NING site and our protected blog. You’ll get the chance to vote on the top submissions in February.

If you are not a member of The Young Clergy Women Project, and are interested in joining, please click on “The Young Clergy Women Project” at the top of this page to find out more! We are always looking for new members. It’s a great opportunity to be more connected in the new year.

A State of The Young Clergy Women Project Update

I suppose January is as good of time as any to take stock in an organization’s progress. Annual meetings dot the calendars of churches, college presidents reassure alumni and alumnae with updates, and the United States president interrupts prime time television with his State of the Union address.

Sadly, there is no potluck luncheon following this address, but happily, there will also be no democratic and republican reactions, either.

Where We’ve Been

The Young Clergy Women Project was formed in November 2006, and in the last 13 months we have:

Where We’re Going

There are several exciting projects in the planning stages.

  • We have just announced a second preaching conference, for August 2008.  Last year’s conference (which reached its capacity in record time) focused on generating sermon material. Anna Carter Florence led us through activities that called upon young women to engage the text and give witness to our experiences of it through sermons. This year, we’re moving from generating material to delivery. Ruthanna Hooke will help us consider the roles that our bodies and voices play in taking the sermon from text to experience. If you want to know more (and I hope you do), information is available here. The conference is open to women preachers under the age of 40.
  • At the Board of Directors meeting earlier this week, the board voted unanimously to expand its size by the addition of six additional members. These six new board members will serve the organization through focusing their attentions to the life of the community: the online community, in-person meetups, conference, covenant groups, and any other programs they collectively dream up. These positions are volunteer, involve a couple hours a month, but time that is self-scheduled. (We aren’t adding more meetings to your schedule!) We are interested in accepting nominations and self-nominations for these positions.
  • We are seeking new writers, artists and poets for Fidelia!

As I step down from my self-constructed soap-box, let me say:

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you to the board. You have served the organization with wit and unflagging energy.
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you to the writers. Your honesty, creativity, and humor are inspiring.
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you to the brave souls who attended the first conference. That conference was about preaching, but it was also where this organization moved off the digital page and took on flesh and light. You animated us. Thank you.
  • I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined this. I could not have concocted an organization so vivid, so fluid, so simultaneously earth-bound and enchanting. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

To another 13 months, another 13 years of TYCWP!

Yours in faith, verve, chocolate, and really great shoes,
Susan Olson, Convener