Date of Completion

Spring 5-6-2012

Thesis Advisor(s)

Bradley Wright

Disciplines

Urban Studies and Planning

Abstract

: If you peeked into a typical Protestant church service, what might you observe? First there could be prayer, as the Believers address God the Father in the name of His one Son, Jesus Christ. Then perhaps songs would follow—some proclaiming God’s greatness, others worshipping a loving Savior, and all utilizing masculine terms to do so. To elaborate a bit more on this man who died to pay the penalty for sins, a message might then discuss how his resurrection sparked a change so great in those who knew him that their zeal for sharing his Good News would eventually build a body of Believers—a community simply called the Church—that would change the world in countless ways. Furthermore, if thorough (and if not, the fact is easily discernible anyway), the message might also note that almost all of these early Church founders were men. In fact, a quick look around the sanctuary would likely reveal that most leadership positions are still (and possibly deliberately) held by men as well. Yet before these observations start lending credit to those who decry Christianity as a patriarchal institution defying egalitarian progress, a final baffling observation must be acknowledged: women far outnumber men in the pews. Why is this? And is it as true in Hartford, Connecticut as it is in most Protestant Churches of the modern Western world? This thesis peruses existing research on a gender gap that has long characterized the Christian Church and studies how that knowledge aligns with the reality of four Protestant churches in the “Insurance Capital of the World” today.