Ashland Seminary to Hold Evening Event in Cleveland

Ashland Seminary to Hold Evening Event in Cleveland

1/6/16 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland Theological Seminary will hold a free event titled “Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling” that will discuss the modern-day challenges that face female clergy. The workshop and worship service, which will include a dinner, is set for Jan. 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the University Circle United Methodist Church located at 1919 E. 107th St. in Cleveland.

The reality of a stained glass ceiling is familiar to most women called to the pastorate. Despite being more likely to be seminary educated, female clergy constitute less than 10 to 12 percent of Protestant leading pastorates—and those who do hold such pastorates are generally paid less than their male counterparts.

In light of such statistics, workshop facilitators will explore how to overcome the challenges in breaking through the stained glass ceiling. They also will discuss the necessary partnerships between women clergy and “power brokers,” and the role each must play in changing oppressive ecclesiastical dynamics.

Additionally, this workshop will examine the societal, psychological and theological factors that pull women towards “ceiling maintaining” mindsets such as low expectations. The concept of “holy ambition” will be unpacked.

The facilitators for the event are the Rev. Christine A. Smith, M.Div., who serves as pastor of Covenant Baptist Church in Euclid, Ohio; the Rev. Marvin A. McMickle, Ph.D., who serves as president, professor of Church Leadership and director of the Program of Black Church Studies at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School; and Stacey Arielle of Stacey Arielle Ministries.

The event is free and open to the public but registration is preferred. Those wanting to register or wanting more information can go to the website at:

The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with a session called "Collectively Overcoming Barriers for Women Clergy" and the dinner. The Rev. Smith and the Rev. McMickle will be facilitators for this session.

At 7 p.m., there will be a question-and-answer session led by Rev. Smith, followed at 7:30 p.m. by a worship session with Arielle. At 8 p.m., Rev. Smith will provide a sermon.

The sponsor of the event is JoAnn Ford Watson, Ph.D., who serves as professor of Christian Theology and Spiritual Formation at Ashland Theological Seminary.

Rev. Smith, affectionately called, “Pastor Chris,” answered the call to the Gospel Ministry and was licensed to preach at age 17. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree, specializing in Learning Disabilities and Developmental Handicaps from the University of Akron in 1987. In 1990, she earned the Master of Divinity degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), Morehouse School of Religion (Atlanta, Ga.), specializing in Systematic Theology and Women’s Studies.

In 1993, Rev. Smith joined the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, under the pastorate of the Reverend Dr. Otis Moss Jr., and was ordained to the Gospel Ministry in 1995. She served Olivet as the Minister of Christian Education for three years. In 2001, Rev. Smith was featured in the African American Pulpit as one of the "Twenty to Watch" (Winter 2001-2002 issue, Judson Press). She was called to serve as pastor of the Covenant Baptist Church, Wickliffe, Ohio, in 2006. Rev. Smith is the church's first female pastor, first African American pastor, and the second female Baptist pastor of a mainline denomination in the greater Cleveland area (American Baptist Churches USA).

In 2009, Rev. Smith wrote and successfully obtained a grant from the American Baptist National Ministers Council to organized Women Together in Ministry of Greater Cleveland, a network designed to connect, encourage and support women in ministry. She also produces a weekly blog, "Shepastor," dedicated to equipping and encouraging female clergy. Her recent publication, “Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors” (Judson Press, 2013), has been featured locally on Fox 8 News and Newsnet 5, Kaleidoscope Magazine.

Rev. McMickle is a 1970 graduate of Aurora University in Illinois with a B.A. in philosophy. His alma mater also awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1990. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1973. He earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., in 1983. He was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1998. In 2010, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio. He also served as pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1987 to 2011 and a member of the Board of Trustees of Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. McMickle also was professor of Homiletics at Ashland Theological Seminary from 1996 to 2011. He is the author of 15 books and also has authored dozens of articles that regularly appear in professional journals and magazines. He is a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga.

Arielle is a native of Cleveland and began singing at the age of 6 in her father’s church. Over the years, she has cultivated her gift by performing in various choirs and ensembles, as a soloist in churches, schools and talent showcases nationwide.

Her musical gift has afforded her amazing opportunities both locally and nationally. She has worked as a background vocalist for several recording artists including Judith McAllister, Jonathan Dunn, Tonya Baker, Leon Timbo, Vashawn Mitchell, Marvin Sapp, CeCe Winans, Myron Butler and Joel Buckner. In September 2010, she was a featured soloist for her church choir in the Verizon Wireless’ How Sweet the Sound Choir Competition, in which the choir took first place in the Regional Small Choir Category. In December of 2010, she had the opportunity to Travel to Italy and tour the country singing Gospel music with Pastor Ron Hubbard’s Gospel Show.

Arielle serves in ministry fulltime traveling the country singing and teaching about worship. She also works with churches to help develop and cultivate their music departments, specifically their praise and worship teams. She is a member of Mt. Hebron Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, where she serves as a minister, Sunday School and Bible Study teacher.

Ashland Theological Seminary is a graduate division of Ashland University. With campuses in Ashland, Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus, Ashland Theological Seminary integrates theological education with Christ-centered transformation as it equips men and women for ministry in the church and the world.

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