It was with sadness that the Leadership Team of Ohio Conference recently accepted the resignation of Sherah-Leigh Gerber as our regional pastor in the east. Sherah-Leigh was called to this role of regional pastor because of her unique skill set and gifting, and her presence and contributions will be greatly missed. One of the primary reasons she gave for her resignation is the intense season in the life of the Conference that made the emphasis of her work different than she had anticipated. The other primary reason given was the patriarchy and sexism which she experienced while carrying out her role as regional pastor.
As the Leadership Team we are especially concerned about patriarchy and sexism present in our system. In late 2020 the Leadership Development Resource Team that was in place at the time conducted a survey of our pastors and congregational leaders regarding women in ministry. The survey revealed that over the years there has been improvement in how women pastors are viewed in Ohio Conference. However, the survey also revealed that women in ministry continue to experience more challenges and barriers than men. The report specifically stated, “Comments reflected that people tend to scrutinize women leaders more than they do men.” Together as a Conference we must own the patriarchy and sexism that exists in ourselves, our congregations, and in the Ohio Conference system. These attitudes, biases, and actions, whether conscious or unconscious, are inconsistent with the Kingdom of God as revealed through our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, and we must continue the undoing of them from our system.
The Leadership Team strongly affirms the calling of women to all ministerial positions. In particular, we affirm the gifts that Sherah-Leigh possesses, and the significant contributions she has made to our Conference life. We ask for your prayers for her during this time of transition in her life.