Let me hear you testify: Women, cultural power, and music in West Texas



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This feminist phenomenological ethnography of West Texas women in Southern Baptist music ministry focuses on Anglo churches in towns within 50 miles of Lubbock with populations between 2500 and 10,000. Nine towns fit those criteria. I have visited, observed, participated, and interviewed the available subjects. Four churches have a woman leading worship on a part-time basis and three have women on an instrument such as piano, organ, or flute. One declined to be interviewed. The data show that women face gender discrimination in terms of leadership roles and monetary compensation. Two women are pursuing a career in music ministry; the other five are performing their service for the church for little or no money. In 1984 the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution during the annual convention supporting women in all forms of ministry except those requiring ordination. According to the New Testament, pastors and deacons are to be ordained. No mention is made of music ministers at all. However, Paul’s admonition to the early church that a woman should not hold authority over a man is voiced as justification for not allowing women to lead music. The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1845 when the mission boards refused missionary appointments to slave-owners, even while Southern apologists of the time justified ownership of slaves based on the New Testament. In 1995 the SBC passed a resolution at convention apologizing for the previous stance on slavery and resolving to eradicate racism in the denomination. The author hopes this thesis will help hasten the day when the SBC passes a resolution to apologize for discrimination against women and resolve to allow women to operate with the gifts they’ve been given for ministry.



Southern Baptist, Women in ministry