On Stereotyping Female Clergy

December 8, 2014

www.communicationdiva.comIt all began with a stereotype.


The Rev. Trisha Elliott was having her photo taken for the church wall, when the photographer told her not to tip her head so much, and to pull her hair back so she looked less “movie star” and more like a minister.

What the heck did that mean?

Perturbed and mostly curious, the Reverend did what any other normal North American with a burning issue does: she went straight to her computer and onto social media.

Within hours, a heated conversation had begun between colleagues across the country about what exactly a female minister DOES or is supposed to look like? What stereotypes are out there, and who is buying into them? Who decides what is appropriate for a minister to wear on a Sunday, and even more interesting, what kinds of activities are appropriate for ministry personnel to engage in on their days off? And why do we go around stereotyping each other anyhow?

Considering that most of the clergy members depicted in film and television are elderly white males, inebriated, bumbling, farcical or downright sinister…there aren’t many accurate media representations to go by for any gender. What do people think? What images come to mind when they hear the word “minister”? Do they even care? And what had other female clergy experienced when rubbing up against this unarticulated yet seemingly widespread stereotype?

It was then an idea was born. A cheeky idea.

Out of the conversations and musings, came the calendar: a calendar full of images of real Canadian women who have answered a call to ministry, and who bring all that they are to the table with them. These are women who are busy, passionate, faith-filled, talented, and diverse….and who all have a pretty good sense of humour. One would be hard-pressed to fit any one of them into the stodgy and one-dimensional stereotype that seems to exist.

This project is meant to do two things: to spark further conversation around how we stereotype one another, and at the same time, do something positive in the world. All proceeds from the sale of the calendars will be donated to the Malala Fund, an organization that works to empower girls through access to quality education.

Calendars can be ordered on-line for $20 (including shipping) at www.calendarrevs.com


– Rev. Jenn, who serves in ministry in the United Church of Canada, who always wears heels, and who is the “December” minister in the calendar.

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