Speaking through the stained glass ceiling
Spencer, Leland Gene
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This dissertation considers the rhetorical leadership of three women bishops who are all “firsts” in important ways: Marjorie Matthews, the first woman bishop in any mainline Post-Reformation church, Leontine Kelly, the first woman bishop of color in any mainline church, and Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to lead a national church in the Anglican Communion. The chapter about Marjorie Matthews argues that Matthews combines constitutive rhetoric and enactment in seeking identification with various audiences. The next chapter suggests that Kelly combines the ironic perspective with the prophetic rhetorical tradition in order to address racism in the church and society. Finally, the chapter about Jefferts Schori argues that Jefferts Schori uses a feminist progressive civility and transcends controversies—especially about human sexuality—to call the church toward her vision of social justice for the church and world. The conclusion addresses themes that connect the three case studies with special emphasis on the bishops’ indebtedness and contribution to the historical-rhetorical trajectory of (clergy)women public speakers, the relationship between these bishops and the question of women in leadership, and the particular significance of the religious nature of the bishops’ rhetoric.