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Alumna Awarded Stipend for Research on the Struggles of Teenage Girls

The Rev. Emily Peck McClain, a 2002 graduate of Washington and Lee, is finishing up her Ph.D. in Christian education and New Testament at Duke Divinity School, and she’s getting some financial support—the American Association of University Women awarded her with a one-year stipend to help her complete her doctoral dissertation.

In an interview in the Augusta Free Press, she discusses her research on how the words of the Apostle Paul, written in the mid to late 50s A.D., speak to the lives of modern American adolescent girls.

As a pastor in New York, Emily had ministered to young women and noticed issues they struggled with. “They had problems with their body image or with cutting themselves or they had eating disorders or substance abuse problems,” she said. “I wanted the church to have a response to that and to help girls lead their lives in a different way that might help them survive and thrive.”

Emily interviewed 24 teenaged girls, all active members of the United Methodist Church, in New York. “Adolescent girls have an amazing strength and a perspective the church could really benefit from, but is missing,” she noted. “I hope my work can help encourage the church to receive the gifts the girls bring with them, and also help churches reach out to young people, especially girls, in a way that empowers and fulfills them.”

Emily lives Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she has pastored three churches as an ordained Methodist minister. Her husband the Rev. Andrew Peck-McClain is a pastor at Mount Clinton United Methodist Church, a few miles west of Harrisonburg.