Christian Equality: Some beginning dates for ordination of women in history
· Early 1800s: A fundamental belief of the [Society of Friends-http://www.religioustolerance.org/quaker.htm] (Quakers) has always been the existence of an element of God's spirit in every human soul. Thus all persons are considered to have inherent and equal worth, independent of their gender. This led naturally to an opposition to sexism, and an acceptance of female ministers. In 1660, Margaret Fell (1614–1702) published a famous pamphlet to justify equal roles for men and women in the denomination. It was titled: "Women's Speaking Justified, Proved and Allowed of by the Scriptures, All Such as Speak by the Spirit and Power of the Lord Jesus And How Women Were the First That Preached the Tidings of the Resurrection of Jesus, and Were Sent by Christ's Own Command Before He Ascended to the Father (John 20:17). In the U.S., in contrast with almost every other organized religion, the Society of Friends (Quakers) has allowed women to serve as ministers since the early 1800s.
· 1853: Antoinette Brown was ordained by the Congregationalist Church. However, her ordination was not recognized by the denomination. She quit the church and later became a Unitarian. The Congregationalists later merged with others to create the United Church of Christ.
· 1861: Mary A. Will was the first woman ordained in the Wesleyan Methodist Connection by the Illinois Conference. The Wesleyan Methodist Connection eventually became The Wesleyan Church.
· 1863: Olympia Brown was ordained by the Universalist denomination in 1863, in spite of a last-moment case of cold feet by her seminary which feared adverse publicity. After a decade and a half of service as a full-time minister, she became a part-time minister in order to devote more time to the fight for women's rights and universal suffrage. In 1961, the Universalists and Unitarians joined to form the [Unitarian Universalist Association-http://www.religioustolerance.org/u-u.htm] (UUA). The UUA became the first large denomination to have a majority of female ministers. In 1999, female ministers outnumbered their male counterpart 431 to 422.
· 1865: Salvation Army is founded and has always ordained both men and women. However, there were initially rules that prohibited a woman from marrying a man who had a lower rank.
· 1880: Anna Howard Shaw was the first woman ordained in the Methodist Protestant Church, which later merged with other denominations to form the United Methodist Church.
· 1888: Fidelia Gillette may have been the first ordained woman in Canada. She served the Universalist congregation in Bloomfield, Ontario, during 1888 and 1889. She was presumably ordained in 1888 or earlier.
· 1889: The Nolin Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church ordained Louisa Woosley.
· 1889: Ella Niswonger was the first woman ordained in the United Brethren church, which later merged with other denominations to form the United Methodist Church.
· 1892: Anna Hanscombe is believed to be the first woman ordained by the parent bodies which formed the Church of the Nazarene in 1919.
· 1909: The Church of God (Cleveland TN) began ordaining women in 1909.
· 1911: Ann Allebach was the first Mennonite woman to be ordained. This occurred at the First Mennonite Church of Philadelphia.
· 1914: Assemblies of God was founded and ordained its first woman clergy
· 1917: The Congregationalist Church (England and Wales) ordained their first woman. Its successor is the United Reformed Church. They now consider it sufficient grounds for refusing ministry training if a potential candidate is not in favor of the ordination of women.
· 1920's: Some Baptist denominations.
· 1920's: United Reformed Church in the UK
· 1922: The Jewish Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis stated that "Woman cannot justly be denied the privilege of ordination."
· 1922: The Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren granted women the right to be licensed into the ministry, but not to be ordained with the same status as men.
· 1930: A predecessor church of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained its first female as an elder
· 1935: Regina Jonas was ordained privately by a German rabbi.
· 1936: United Church of Canada.
· 1944: Anglican communion, Hong Kong. Florence Li Tim Oi was ordained on an emergency basis.
· 1947: Czechoslovak Hussite Church
· 1948: Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark
· 1949: Old Catholic Church (in the U.S.)
· 1956: A predecessor church of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained its first woman minister.
· 1956: Maud K. Jensen was the first woman to receive full clergy rights and conference membership in the Methodist Church.
· 1958: Women ministers in the Church of the Brethren were given full ordination with the same status as men.
· 1960: Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sweden
· 1967: Presbyterian Church in Canada
· 1971: Anglican communion, Hong Kong. Joyce Bennett and Jane Hwang were the first regularly ordained priests.
· 1972: Reform Judaism
· 1972: Swedenborgian Church
· 1972: Sally Priesand became the first woman rabbi to be ordained by a theological seminary. She was ordained in the Reform tradition.
· 1970's: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
· 1974: Methodist Church in the UK
· 1974: Sandy Eisenberg Sasso became the first woman rabbi to be ordained within the Jewish Reconstructionist movement.
· 1976: Episcopal Church (11 women were ordained in Philadelphia before church laws were changed to permit ordination)
· 1976: Anglican Church in Canada ordained six female priests.
· 1976: The Rev. Pamela McGee was the first female ordained to the Lutheran ministry in Canada.
· 1977: Anglican Church of New Zealand ordained five female priests.
· 1979: The Reformed Church in America. Women had been admitted to the offices of deacon and elder in 1972.
· 1983: An Anglican woman was ordained in Kenya
· 1983: Three Anglican women were ordained in Uganda.
· 1984: Community of Christ (known at the time as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) authorized the ordination of women. This is the second largest Latter Day Saint denomination.
· 1985: According to the New York Times for 1985-FEB-14: "After years of debate, the worldwide governing body of Conservative Judaism has decided to admit women as rabbis. The group, the Rabbinical Assembly, plans to announce its decision at a news conference...at the Jewish Theological Seminary..." Amy Eilberg became the first female rabbi.
· 1985: The first women deacons were ordained by the Scottish Episcopal Church.
· 1988: Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
· 1988: Episcopal Church chooses Barbara Harris as first female bishop.
· 1990: Anglican women are ordained in Ireland.
· 1992: Church of England
· 1992: Anglican Church of South Africa
· 1994: The first women priests were ordained by the Scottish Episcopal Church.
· 1995: Seventh-day Adventists. Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, MD ordained three women in violation of the denomination's rules.
· 1995: The Christian Reformed Church voted to allow women ministers, elders, and evangelists. In 1998-NOV, the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) suspended the CRC's membership because of this decision.
· 1998: General Assembly of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church in Japan)
· 1998: Guatemalan Presbyterian Synod
· 1998: Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands
· 1998: Some Orthodox Jewish congregations started to employ female "congregational interns." Although these 'interns' do not lead worship services, they perform some tasks usually reserved for rabbis, such as preaching, teaching, and consulting on Jewish legal matters.
· 1999: Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil (ordination as either clergy or elders)
· 2000: The Baptist Union of Scotland voted to allow their churches to either allow or prohibit the ordination of women.
· 2000: The Mombasa diocese of the Anglican Church of Kenya.
· 2000: The Church of Pakistan ordained its first women deacons. It is a united church which dates back to the 1970 local merger of Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and other Protestants.
· 2005 The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church,(LEPC)(GCEPC) in the USA elects Nancy Kinard Drew first female Presiding Bishop.
· 2006: The Episcopal Church elects Katharine Jefferts Schori first woman Presiding Bishop, or Primate.
Source: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Wikipedia, “Ordination of women,” (accessed April 13, 2008). Minor edits by Christian Equality.