Religion: Rising Above The Stained-Glass Ceiling

Women preachers are still rare in the pulpits of tall- steeple churches. Here's how a few got in

Joanna Adams almost pulled it off. In 2001, John Buchanan, the pastor of Chicago's Fourth Presbyterian Church, announced that the congregation had chosen the Rev. Adams as co-pastor, with the understanding that she would eventually succeed him. The news raised hopes, and eyebrows. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), like most of the old mainline Protestant communions, has ordained women for decades. But none had yet achieved any of the denomination's flagship pulpits, the senior pastorships in what are sometimes called "tall-steeple churches." Fourth Presbyterian, with its hefty 5,300-member-and-still-growing congregation, certainly fit that bill, and Adams appeared poised to ascend. At the same...

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