Date of Graduation

Spring 2016

Degree

Master of Arts in Communication

Department

Communication

Committee Chair

Isabelle Bauman

Keywords

sensemaking, qualitative, women, faith, identity, narrative

Subject Categories

Communication

Abstract

Many church organizations require women to adhere to a strict code of conduct and dress that affects every area of their lives. While some women choose to create a narrative that validates these guidelines, others choose to leave the church. The purpose of this study is to explicate how women who have left the United Pentecostal Church (UPC), a legalistic splinter group of Pentecostalism, make sense of that decision, redefine their language, and construct new identities in and through the leave-taking process. Current research on women in gendered faith-based organizations focuses on feminist theory and folklore, often ignoring the voices of those who have left. This study takes a multi-methodological qualitative sensemaking approach to explore the leave-taking process. The data revealed that women who have left the UPC make sense of that decision through a long process of questioning and honoring their past; redefine their shared cultural narratives as misogynistic, limiting, and embarrassing; and redefine their identity as a woman of faith as one who values relationships, welcomes difference and uncertainty, and lives in freedom. This study contributes a deeper understanding of the role language and narrative play in creating and recreating gendered faith systems and in the leave-taking process.

Copyright

© Janice Nadine Hersey

Open Access

Included in

Communication Commons

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