The Religious Research Association, a fine organization of denominational datawonks (of which I am a member), had an interesting exchange recently trying to find the largest mainline congregation headed by a woman pastor. The results (so far):
Rev. Jo Gayle Hudson, Cathedral of Hope, in Dallas, has an attendance of 1500+ and membership of 4500+. This is now a United Church of Christ congregation, but began as a Metropolitan Community Church. Indeed, it was probably the leading MCC congregation. This also explains how there is a UCC – that is, Congregationalist – congregation with the very un-Congregationalist name of "Cathedral." The MCC, a homosexual-oriented Pentecostal denomination, is not mainline, but the UCC is.
The next largest woman-led UCC congregation (the largest with a direct Congregationalist history) is Community Church UCC, Vero Beach, FL, led by Rev. Casey Garrett Baggott. It has a worship attendance of 1612 and membership of 2080.
In the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, The Rev. Deanna M Wildermuth is Senior Pastor of Sharon Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, ND with a reported baptized membership of 4,781 and average attendance of 907.
In the Presbyterian Church (USA), my denomination, the largest church with a senior solo pastor is First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest, IL. This church had 1,762 members and an average worship attendance of 478. In addition, First Presbyterian Church in Boulder,CO, with 2,204 in membership and 1,614 in attendance, has a female co-pastor.
A Southern Baptist added that, though the SBC is not mainline and is nearly universally opposed to calling women as senior pastors, First Baptist in Decatur, Georgia recently called Julie Pennington-Russell as senior pastor. Last year the church reported 2,671 members with 483 in average worship attendance.
What of the Episcopalians, America's ruling class denomination of old? I find it amusing that the Episcopal entry in this parlor game did not count membership size, but used a different scale:
"I DOUBT THAT THEY ARE LARGER, BUT ST JAMES IN NYC IS PROBABLY THE SECOND RICHEST (NEXT TO TRINITY .WALL STREET). IT HAS A WOMAN RECTOR."