An exploratory study of women's experiences and place in the church: a case study of a parish in the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA), diocese of Cape Town
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This mini-thesis is a small-scale exploratory case study into the experiences of eight mature women members of a particular parish in the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA) situated in the Diocese of Cape Town. Using qualitative feminist research methodologies, this study sets out to explore how this group of non-ordained women perceives their roles in the church structure. The study examines what initially attracted the participants to this parish and what motivates them, despite the challenges, to continue performing their voluntary licensed and unlicensed roles in the church. It then goes on to consider the contradictory ways in which their roles as individuals, gendered as women, serve to simultaneously reinforce and challenge the patriarchy of the church. In this respect the participants often held conflicting views within themselves, thus demonstrating the complexities surrounding such issues. Upon reflection the researcher acknowledges that, similar to the participants, she also holds contradictory views on some of these issues. The research therefore identifies and explores three main themes in this regard, firstly the reasons why women originally joined the parish church, secondly the ways in which these women are active in the church and lastly the ways in which women’s activities simultaneously challenge and reinforce the patriarchy and continued male domination of church.