Women in Church Leadership
Women in the Early Church
Women Officeholders in the Early Church

Thanks to the painstaking work of contemporary scholars, we now have compelling evidence that women held leadership and ministerial roles in the early church similar to those held by men. Inscriptions and images found on papyri, tombstones, frescos and mosaics show early Christian women served as apostles, prophets, teachers of theology, priests, deacons, stewards, enrolled widows and even bishops.

Women Officeholders in the Early Church Monograph (Cost: $3)

This short monograph was written by FutureChurch’s Sr. Christine Schenk. It is an introduction to the work of two scholars: Ute Eisen and Dorothy Irvin.

Eisen's book: Women Officeholders in Early Christianity (Liturgical Press, 2000) is an exhaustive study of the literary and epigraphical evidence for women officeholders from the ancient Church to the Middle Ages. Her shows that women led and served communities Asia Minor, Greece, Spain, Egypt, Sicily, Italy, Palestine and Yugoslavia.

Dorothy Irvin holds a pontifical doctorate in Catholic Theology from the University of Tubingen, Germany with specialization in bible, ancient near eastern studies and archeology. For the last twenty years she has been an active field archeologist. Her calendars: The Archeology of Women's Traditional Ministries in the Church have made recent discoveries more widely accessible to the general public.(email: irvincalendar@hotmail.com)

Attractively presented, the 5000 word monograph includes a map of the Mediterranean world showing where archeologic data about women priests, deacons and bishops was found as well as line drawings of ancient inscriptions produced by archeologist Dorothy Irvin.

To order click here

New! Women Leaders in Early Christianity CD and Presenter’s Guide (Cost: $20)

Includes 43 images from catacomb frescos, newly available sarcophagi friezes, original art, paintings and mosaics of early Christian women leaders from the first to the 9th centuries. A sixteen-page presenter’s guide includes carefully researched summaries of what experts can tell us about these artifacts. Ideal for personal or group study as well as high school or college religious studies courses. CD includes Powerpoint and PDF formats.

To order click here

In This Packet:

Articles and Reprints

Anonymous Women essay and prayer 

Karen Flotte

Benchmarks for Church Leadership Roles for Women

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Catholic Women Deacons

Phyllis Zagano

Feminist Christology from Consider Jesus: Waves of Renewal in The Catholic Church

Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ

God's Dominion Free Order: Women and Children   

Walter Wink from Engaging the Powers

Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men

Joan Chittister, OSB

Lay preaching: A Hearing Aid

Patricia Hughes Baumer, Partners in Preaching

Understanding the Ministry and Experience: Parish Life Coordinatorsin the US

Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate

Women in the Bible and the Lectionary

Ruth Fox, OSB

Women Officeholders in the Early Church  

Christine Schenk, csj




Catholic Women Who Changed the World  

Barbara Ballenger

Mary of Magdala  

Christine Schenk, csj

Jesus & Women  

Christine Schenk, csj

Lay Ecclesial Ministers in the Catholic Church

Christine Schenk, csj

The Women in Paul's Ministry

Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ

 Other materials

Can Lay Ministers Exercise the Power of Governance?

United States Catholic Conference of Bishops

FutureChurch's Women's Leadership Survey  


Our Foremothers in Faith: Women in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures

M.T. Winter MMS et al

A Parish Life Coordinator's Story    

Carol Karnitsky, sscm

Quotations from Church Teaching about Women in the Church


Some Highlights of hte Document Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord

ed. by Mary Collingwood

Status of Women in the Roman Catholic Church: A Report Card  

Regina Bannan Women's Justice Coalition

Women Deacons, Why Now?  

Christine Schenk, csj

Organizing Materials

Tips on Advancing Women in Church Leadership


Lydia's House: An Example of Doing Women's Spirituality in Community

Patricia Ferguson

Scripture Readings that Subordinate Women

Liturgy Office, United States Catholic Conference of Bishops

Bibliography and resources  

FutureChurch Women In Church LeadershipAdvisory Committee