Which U.S. conferences employ the most racial-ethnic women?

by Elaine Moy*

The chart below lists the U.S. United Methodist annual conferences in which 10% or more of their employees are racial-ethnic clergywomen and laywomen. There are 63 annual conferences in the United States. Below are also the U.S. annual conferences with the lowest percentage of racial-ethnic clergywomen or laywomen employees.

Top annual conferences by % of racial-ethnic clergywomen employed
Conference Percentage
Oklahoma Indian Missionary 44%
Kansas West 40%
Wisconsin 18%
Mississippi 17%
Tennessee 13%
Top annual conferences by % of racial-ethnic laywomen employed
Conference Percentage
Western Pennsylvania 64%
Wisconsin 43%
Mississippi 41%
Southwest Texas 24%
Baltimore-Washington 20%
California-Pacific 19%
Desert Southwest 17%
Alabama West Florida 15%
South Carolina 14%
North Alabama 14%
Lowest % of racial-ethnic clergywomen employed
Conference Percentage
Pacific Northwest 6%
North Central New York 5%
Western North Carolina 5%
Virginia 5%
Illinois Great Rivers 4%
Oregon-Idaho 4%
West Ohio 3%
Iowa 2%
West Michigan 2%
Texas 1%
Lowest % of racial-ethnic laywomen employed
Conference Percentage
Illinois Great Rivers 4%
Desert Southwest 4%
Penninsula-Delaware 4%
South Carolina 4%
Louisiana 3%
Florida 2%
West Viriginia 2%
North Texas 2%
California-Pacific 1%
Iowa 1%

Some questions to consider:

  • Do the percentages of racial-ethnic women employees (and the membership of UM congregations) in these annual conferences exceed, equal or fall short of the regions’ total racial-ethnic population? (The national population is nearly 40% people of color.)
  • What might this imply with regard to our denomination’s efforts to make Christian disciples and be in mission with all people in all places, and to represent the communities in which we minister?
  • Which racial-ethnic communities do the women employees represent?
  • What positions do the racial-ethnic women hold?
  • Which racial-ethnic women communities are missing from the discussions?

NOTE: Percentages are based on reports from annual conferences. Annual conferences NOT reporting include East Ohio, Indiana, Northern Illinois, Susquehanna, New York, Greater New Jersey, Rio Grande, Holston, and Rocky Mountain.

—Elaine Moy of Chicago is assistant general secretary for finance and administration for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.