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"I keep waiting for someone to walk through these doors of Bek's, because I feel like he might work really well." Friends from outside of church have suggested that she look to her congregation for prospects. That’s what worked for Bonnie Cassida, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Columbia. Her husband had died of cancer, and she was looking for someone to spend time with, for companionship. Along with that, she felt like people wouldn't understand what it meant to be a Baptist minister, or they would have preconceived notions of what she would be like. And there are stereotypes about women in leadership," Cassida said.But hiding that pastoral identity is nothing out of the ordinary. Instead, she said she worked for a nonprofit organization.And when people did find out she was a pastor, they’d often give suggestions on how to better lead her church, or how she could improve her marketing – and that's not what she needed.Then, she started exchanging messages with a man who was a professor. "I’m a Baptist minister." But this man was different – he understood, because he’d grown up on the mission field in Africa.In some Christian denominations, it’s getting more common to see women preaching from the pulpit on Sunday mornings.Still, it’s a slow cultural shift – some denominations don’t allow female pastors, and many churches that do are just getting female pastors for the first time.
"[Online dating] was a way of me getting to know people and kind of being able to do some screening, and a lot of my career women friends who are single have found that that’s been a helpful way to meet people," she said.
All that’s to say that being a clergy woman has its own set of challenges – and those challenges come into play on the dating scene.