Timeline of women's ordination in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This is a timeline of women's ordination in America.

  • 1815: Clarissa Danforth was ordained in New England. She was the first woman ordained by the Free Will Baptist denomination.
  • 1853: Antoinette Brown Blackwell was the first woman ordained as a minister in the United States.[1] She was ordained by a church belonging to the Congregationalist Church.[2] However, her ordination was not recognized by the denomination.[3] She later quit the church and became a Unitarian.[3] The Congregationalists later merged with others to create the United Church of Christ, which ordains women.[3][4]
  • 1861: Mary A. Will was the first woman ordained in the Wesleyan Methodist Connection by the Illinois Conference in the United States. The Wesleyan Methodist Connection eventually became the Wesleyan Church.
  • 1863: Olympia Brown was ordained by the Universalist denomination in 1863, the first woman ordained by that denomination, in spite of a last-moment case of cold feet by her seminary which feared adverse publicity.[5] 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.[3] In 1961, the Universalists and Unitarians joined to form the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).[6] The UUA became the first large denomination to have a majority of female ministers.[3]
  • 1866: Helenor M. Davison was ordained as a deacon by the North Indiana Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church, probably making her the first ordained woman in the Methodist tradition.
  • 1880: Anna Howard Shaw was the first woman ordained in the Methodist Protestant Church, an American church which later merged with other denominations to form the United Methodist Church.[7]
  • 1889: The Nolin Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church ordained Louisa Woosley as the first female minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, USA.[8]
  • 1889: Ella Niswonger was the first woman ordained in the American United Brethren Church, which later merged with other denominations to form the American United Methodist Church, which has ordained women with full clergy rights and conference membership since 1956.[9]
  • 1918: Alma Bridwell White, head of the Pillar of Fire Church, became the first female bishop in the United States.[10][11]
  • 1922: The Jewish Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis stated that "...woman cannot justly be denied the privilege of ordination."[12] However, the first woman in Reform Judaism to be ordained (Sally Priesand) was not ordained until 1972[13]
  • 1930: A predecessor church of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained its first female as an elder.[3]
  • 1956: The Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained its first female minister, Margaret Towner.[14]
  • 1964: Addie Davis became the first Southern Baptist woman to be ordained.[15] However, the Southern Baptist Convention stopped ordaining women in 2000, although existing female pastors are allowed to continue their jobs.[3]
  • 1965: Rachel Henderlite became the first woman ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the United States; she was ordained by the Hanover Presbytery in Virginia.[16][17]
  • 1970: On November 22, 1970, Elizabeth Alvina Platz became the first woman ordained by the Lutheran Church in America, and as such was the first woman ordained by any Lutheran denomination in America.[18] The first woman ordained by the American Lutheran Church, Barbara Andrews, was ordained in December 1970.[19] On January 1, 1988 the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches merged to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which continues to ordain women.[20]
  • 1972: Freda Smith became the first female minister to be ordained by the Metropolitan Community Church.[21]
  • 1972: Sally Priesand became the first female rabbi to be ordained in Reform Judaism, and also the first female rabbi in the world to be ordained by any theological seminary.[13]
  • 1974: Sandy Eisenberg Sasso became the first female rabbi to be ordained in Reconstructionist Judaism.[22]
  • 1974: The Philadelphia Eleven were ordained into the Priesthood of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.[23]
  • 1975: Barbara Ostfeld-Horowitz was ordained as the first female cantor in Reform Judaism. [24]
  • 1976: Venerable Karuna Dharma became the first fully ordained female member of the Buddhist monastic community in the U.S.[25]
  • 1977: Pauli Murray became the first African American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1977.[26]
  • 1977: On January 1, 1977, Jacqueline Means became the first woman ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church.[27] 11 women were "irregularly" ordained to the priesthood in Philadelphia on July 29, 1974, before church laws were changed to permit women's ordination.[23] They are often called the "Philadelphia 11". Church laws were changed on September 16, 1976.[23]
  • 1978: Lauma Lagzdins Zusevics, an American, was ordained as the first woman to serve as a full-time minister for the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[28]
  • 1978: Mindy Jacobsen became the first blind woman to be ordained as a cantor in the history of Judaism.[29]
  • 1979: The Reformed Church in America started ordaining women as ministers.[30] Women had been admitted to the offices of deacon and elder in 1972.[3]
  • 1981: Lynn Gottlieb became the first female rabbi to be ordained in the Jewish Renewal movement.[31]
  • 1985: Amy Eilberg became the first female rabbi to be ordained in Conservative Judaism.[32]
  • 1987: Erica Lippitz and Marla Rosenfeld Barugel were ordained as the first female cantors in Conservative Judaism. [33]
  • 1993: Rebecca Dubowe became the first Deaf woman to be ordained as a rabbi in the United States.[34]
  • 1993: Leslie Friedlander became the first female cantor ordained by the Academy for Jewish Religion (New York).[35][36]
  • 1994: Lia Bass was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, thus becoming the first Latin-American female rabbi in the world as well as the first woman from Brazil to be ordained as a rabbi.[37][38][39][40]
  • 1995: The Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Maryland, ordained three women in violation of the denomination's rules - Kendra Haloviak, Norma Osborn, and Penny Shell.[41]
  • 1999: Beth Lockard was ordained as the first Deaf pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[42][43]
  • 1999: Tamara Kolton was ordained as the first rabbi of either sex (and therefore, because she was female, the first female rabbi) in Humanistic Judaism.[31]
  • 1999: Angela Warnick Buchdahl, born in Seoul, Korea,[44] became the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a cantor in the world when she was ordained by HUC-JIR, an American seminary for Reform Judaism.[45]
  • 2000: Helga Newmark, born in Germany, became the first female Holocaust survivor ordained as a rabbi. She was ordained in America.[46][47]
  • 2001: Angela Warnick Buchdahl, born in Seoul, Korea,[44] became the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a rabbi in the world; she was ordained by HUC-JIR, an American seminary for Reform Judaism.[45]
  • 2001: Deborah Davis was ordained as the first cantor of either sex (and therefore, since she was female, the first female cantor) in Humanistic Judaism; however, Humanistic Judaism has since stopped graduating cantors.[48]
  • 2002: Sharon Hordes was ordained as the very first cantor in Reconstructionist Judaism. Therefore, since she was a woman, she became their first female cantor.[49]
  • 2006: Susan Wehle was ordained as the first American female cantor in Jewish Renewal in 2006; however, she died in 2009.[50]
  • 2006: For the first time in American history, a Buddhist ordination was held where an American woman (Sister Khanti-Khema) took the Samaneri (novice) vows with an American monk (Bhante Vimalaramsi) presiding. This was done for the Buddhist American Forest Tradition at the Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center in Missouri.
  • 2009: Alysa Stanton, born in Cleveland and ordained by a Reform Jewish seminary in Cincinnati, became the world's first black female rabbi.[51]
  • 2009: On July 19, 2009, 11 women received smicha (ordination) as kohanot from the Kohenet Institute, based at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, becoming their first priestess ordainees.[52]
  • 2010: The first American women to be ordained as cantors in Jewish Renewal after Susan Wehle's ordination were Michal Rubin and Abbe Lyons, both ordained on January 10, 2010.
  • 2010: In Northern California, 4 novice nuns were given the full bhikkhuni ordination in the Thai Therevada tradition, which included the double ordination ceremony. Bhante Gunaratana and other monks and nuns were in attendance. It was the first such ordination ever in the Western hemisphere. [53] The following month, more full ordinations were completed in Southern California, led by Walpola Piyananda and other monks and nuns. The bhikkhunis ordained in Southern California were Lakshapathiye Samadhi (born in Sri Lanka), Cariyapanna, Susila, Sammasati (all three born in Vietnam), and Uttamanyana (born in Myanmar).
  • 2010: With the October 16, 2010, ordination of Margaret Lee, in the Peoria-based Diocese of Quincy, Illinois, women have been ordained as priests in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States.[54]
  • 2011: The Evangelical Presbyterian Church's 31st General Assembly voted to allow congregations to call women to ordained ministry, even if their presbytery (governing body) objects for theological or doctrinal reasons. Such congregations will be allowed to leave the objecting presbytery (such as the Central South, which includes Memphis) and join an adjacent one that permits the ordination of women.[55]
  • 2011: The American Catholic Church in the United States, ACCUS, ordained their first woman priest, Kathleen Maria MacPherson, on June 12, 2011. She is now the pastor of the St. Oscar Romero Pastoral and Outreach Center in El Paso, Texas / Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.[56]
  • 2012: Ilana Mills was ordained, thus making her, Jordana Chernow-Reader, and Mari Chernow the first three female siblings in America to become rabbis.[57]
  • 2012: Christine Lee was ordained as the Episcopal Church's first female Korean-American priest.[58]
  • 2014: Fanny Sohet Belanger, born in France, was ordained in America and thus became the first French female priest in the Episcopal Church. [59]
  • 2014: The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland elected the Rev. Canon Heather Cook as its first female bishop.[60]
  • 2014: It was announced that Lauma Lagzdins Zusevics, an American, was the first woman elected Archbishop of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad.[61][62]


  1. ^ "Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825-1921)". Electronic Oberlin Group. Oberlin College Archives. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  2. ^ "Antoinette Brown Blackwell". 5.uua.org. 1921-11-05. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "When churches started to ordain women". Religioustolerance.org. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  4. ^ "A Movement Begins". Womensordination.org. 1977-06-30. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  5. ^ Standing before us: Unitarian Universalist women and social reform, 1776-1936 By Dorothy May Emerson, June Edwards, Helene Knox (pg. 460)
  6. ^ Robinson, B.A. "Unitarian Universalism". Religious Tolerance.org. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  7. ^ "Anna Howard Shaw Biography". Biography.com. 1919-07-02. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  8. ^ "Louisa Mariah Layman Woosley". Cumberland.org. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  9. ^ "The United Methodist Church And Homosexuality". Religioustolerance.org. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  10. ^ "Fundamentalist Pillar.". Time (magazine). July 8, 1946. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-25. Fundamentalist ecstasy and hallelujah-shouting were a vital part of masterful, deep-voiced Alma White's faith. On it she built a sect called Pillar of Fire — with 4,000 followers, 61 churches, seven schools, ten periodicals and two broadcasting stations. Last week, as it must even to 'the only woman bishop in the world,' Death came to the Pillar of Fire's 84-year-old founder. 
  11. ^ "Bishop v. Drink.". Time (magazine). December 18, 1939. Archived from the original on 23 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. Her church became known as the Pillar of Fire. Widowed, Mrs. White started a pious, shouting, camp-meeting community in New Jersey, named it Zarephath after the place where the 'widow woman' sustained Elijah. Alma White was soon acting like a bishop toward her flock [and] Pillar of Fire consecrated her as such in 1918. [She] built 49 churches, three colleges. She edits six magazines, travels continually between Zarephath and the West. ... She has two radio stations, WAWZ at Zarephath, KPOF in Denver, where her Alma Temple is also a thriving concern. ... 
  12. ^ American Reform responsa By Central Conference of American Rabbis, Walter Jacob (pg. 25)
  13. ^ a b Sally Priesand | Jewish Women's Archive
  14. ^ LIFE Nov 12, 1956. Books.google.com. 1956-11-12. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  15. ^ Encyclopedia of women and religion in North America, Volume 1 By Rosemary Skinner Keller, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Marie Cantlon (pg. 294)
  16. ^ "NAPC - National Association of Presbyterian Clergywomen". Napconline.org. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  17. ^ "Women Ministers (1955-1966) and Margaret Towner". Pres-outlook.net. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  18. ^ "The ordination of Elizabeth Alvina Platz into the clergy of the Lutheran Church in America". Elca.org. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  19. ^ "Wisdom Has Blessed Us". Elca.org. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  20. ^ "History of the ELCA A Union of Common Beliefs". Elca.org. 1988-01-01. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  21. ^ "Metropolitan Community Church". Glbtq.com. 1968-10-06. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  22. ^ "Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso". Bez613.org. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  23. ^ a b c "The Philadelphia 11". Episcopalchurch.org. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  24. ^ Cantors: American Jewish Women | Jewish Women's Archive
  25. ^ Tweti, Mira (Winter 2006). "Daughters of Buddha". Tricycle Magazine. The Tricycle Foundation. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  26. ^ "Pauli Murray.biography". bio.: People. A+E Networks. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  27. ^ "The Reverend Jacqueline Means". Ecusa-chaplain.org. 1977-01-01. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  28. ^ "Clevelander becomes first woman to lead Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church". cleveland.com. Retrieved 2015-04-18. 
  29. ^ "Accessible-Technology Pioneer Spearheads Efforts Helping Blind Students". Blindkids.com. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  30. ^ "History of Women's Involvement in the RCA". Rca.org. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  31. ^ a b Women Rabbis in America | The New Agenda
  32. ^ "Amy Eilberg". Jewish Women's Archive. Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  33. ^ Betty Robbins | Jewish Women's Archive
  34. ^ "The Sisterhood 50 America's Influential Women Rabbis". Forward.com. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  35. ^ "Chutzpah : Summer 2012" (PDF). Pageturnpro.com. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  36. ^ "Pre-Ordination Benefit Concert at Merkin Hall on May 11". Academy for Jewish Religion. Academy for Jewish Religion. 2011-04-07. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  37. ^ Cohen, Diane (September 2009). "A message of Progress". North Virginia Magazine: Family Features. North Virginia Magazine. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  38. ^ Viera, Stacey. "A Taste of Brazil Flavors Passover". Jewish Food Experience. Jewish Food Experience. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  39. ^ "Rabbi Lia Bass". Etz Hayim Congregation. Trustees of Congregation Etz Hayim. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  40. ^ "Spring 2012 Letters". CJ Online. CJ Online. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  41. ^ Ferrell, Vance (October 1995). "The Women,s Ordination at Silgo Part 1-3" (PDF). Waymarks (Pilgrim's Rest). WM 649-651. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  42. ^ "A place in the church". The Lutheran. 1999. [dead link]
  43. ^ "Signs of change". The Lutheran. 1999. [dead link]
  44. ^ a b "Cantor Angela Warnick Buchdahl - the face of the modern Jew". Jewishtimesasia.org. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  45. ^ a b "Angela Warnick Buchdahl invested as first Asian-American cantor". Jwa.org. 1999-05-16. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  46. ^ Hoyt, Carolyn (August 1994). "Stolen Childhood: A Survivor of the Holocaust". McCall's Magazine. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  47. ^ "In Memoriam: Rabbi Helga Newmark, z"l". Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion: News Center. Hebrew Union College. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  48. ^ "Contributions of Jewish Women to Music and Women to Jewish Music". JMWC. Between 2000 and 2004. Retrieved 2012-07-09.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  49. ^ "Cantor Sharon Hordes". Kenesethisrael.com. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  50. ^ "Susan Wehle". Buffalonews.com. 2010-08-21. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  51. ^ Draper, Electa (2009-06-05). "Colorado woman to be first black female rabbi". Denverpost.com. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  52. ^ "Kohenet: the Hebrew Priestess Institute, Launches its first Training Institute in Accord, NW". Jewish Women's Archive: This Week in History. Jewish Women's Archive. 2006-08-14. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  53. ^ Wisdom Quarterly: American Buddhist Journal: The Journey of [Two] Buddhist Nun[s]
  54. ^ "Last Episcopal Holdout Ordains Female Priest". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  55. ^ Waters, David. "Presbyterians meet in Memphis, seal deal on ordaining women". Commercialappeal.com. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  56. ^ "The American Catholic Church in the United States". Accus.us. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  57. ^ Rabbinic sisterhood 3 rabbis now in Chernow family
  58. ^ Mays, Jeff (2012-10-03). "Harlem Woman Becomes Episcopal Church's First Female Korean-American". DNAinfo New York (Harlem: DNAinfo.com). Retrieved 2013-10-16.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  59. ^ Belanger ordained as Episcopal Church’s first French female priest
  60. ^ Episcopal Diocese of Maryland elects first female bishop - Baltimore Sun
  61. ^ "Welcome to LELBA.org - Sat, 18 Apr 2015 12:41:33 America/New_York". LELBAL.org. Retrieved 2015-04-18. 
  62. ^ "Clevelander becomes first woman to lead Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church". cleveland.com. Retrieved 2015-04-18.