Women's ordination: 30 ways to mark 30 years

Tuesday, To Note: Brief Items of Interest in the News
July 26, 2004
  • Women's ordination: 30 ways to mark 30 years
  • Divinity School establishes Sue Hiatt Chair to honor pioneering priest
  • To Read: FREEDOM IS A DREAM: A Documentary History of Women in the Episcopal Church, edited by Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook
  • To Read: LEADING LADIES: Transformative Biblical Images for Women's Leadership, by Jeanne Porter

Women's ordination: 30 ways to mark 30 years

[ENS, New York, July 27, 2004] - July 29, 2004, marks the 30th anniversary of the first ordinations of women to the priesthood in the United States, when 11 women were "irregularly" consecrated in Philadelphia. On September 16, 1976, General Convention approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. "Women's ordination in the Episcopal Church -- as deacons, priests, and bishops -- stands on the foundation built and supported by lay women and men who understand ordination as part of the whole ministry of the church," according to the Office of Women's Ministries website [http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/women-church].

Through the vision of the Executive Council Committee on the Status of Women and the facilitation of Women's Ministries at the Episcopal Church Center, materials are available to help you celebrate these last 30 years. All materials posted here may be copied freely with proper credit given.

Thirty Ways to Celebrate Thirty Years of Women's Ordained Ministry To be used joyfully between July 29, 2004, and September 16, 2006

Collect for the Anniversary of the Approval of Women's Ordination

Most holy and loving God, you sent your Child Jesus Christ that there might no longer be slave or free, Jew or Gentile, male or female: Be with us this day as we rejoice in the ordination of women to the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopate, giving thanks for their ministry among us. Fill our hearts with gratitude for those who worked and prayed unceasingly for the full and equal participation of women in our church in both holy and lay orders. Strengthen those who still struggle for the full inclusion of women in holy orders in their diocese; in the name of the Source, the Word, and the Spirit.

A Litany of Thanksgiving for the Ordination of Women is available at: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/women-church, and an Educational Resource for the 25th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women is available at: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/topics/womens-ordination

  1. Hold a forum on ordination for the girls in your congregation.
  2. Send a note to a woman priest, deacon, or bishop-or all three-who has influenced your life, and a note of affirmation to a woman in seminary.
  3. Put flowers on the altar one Sunday in thanksgiving for the ministries of ordained women.
  4. Learn the names of the 11 women ordained in Philadelphia and the four ordained in Washington D.C. before the General Convention of 1976.
  5. Send a donation to an organization that supports women's ministries or concerns and memo it in thanksgiving for women's ordained ministries.
  6. Explain to people in your congregation why God is not a boy's name.
  7. Work to make your congregation's language more inclusive and expansive.
  8. Use the hymn "Blessed Is She."
  9. Buy a copy of the new hymnal "Voices Found" for your church. All the words or tunes are written by women.
  10. Have women as the subject for Vacation Bible School.
  11. Buy or make a stole that celebrates women's ministry for your priest to wear.
  12. Work to understand and dismantle patriarchy, being aware of how its oppression affects all minorities, not just women.
  13. If you don't have an ordained woman on your staff or in your congregation, invite one to preach and celebrate.
  14. Send a note to a non-ordaining male bishop and tell him how important women's ordained ministry is.
  15. Find out about the history of women's ordination in your diocese.
  16. Join the Episcopal Women's Caucus, the Episcopal Public Policy Network, and the Episcopal Women's History Project.
  17. Celebrate the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12.
  18. Read the Gospel of Mary by Karen King.
  19. Find a way to celebrate your part in the priesthood of all believers.
  20. If you are an ordained woman, make intentional efforts to reach out to laywomen as peers; if you are a lay woman, reach out to an ordained woman as a colleague in ministry.
  21. Thank one of the people who made the ordination of women a possibility in your diocese.
  22. Celebrate Mother's Day as a Day for Peace, the way the founder, Julia Ward Howe, intended it.
  23. Write a poem, prayer or hymn in thanksgiving for women's ministries.
  24. Have a feast in your church and invite a woman who has been ordained twenty years or more to come and share her story.
  25. Plant a tree in your church yard in honor of women's ordained ministries.
  26. Add one or more mothers' names to the list of the fathers in Eucharistic Prayer C.
  27. Decorate gingerbread cookies like women priests and serve at coffee hour.
  28. Ask your vestry to find a way to celebrate the 30th anniversary in your congregation.
  29. Visit the Office of Women's Ministries Web Site at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/women-church
  30. Celebrate the Feast of Mary Magdalene on July 22 and pass out red eggs. (Learn about this story if you do not know it.) Continue the octave in celebration of all women's ministries and end on the Feast Day of Mary and Martha, the anniversary of the Philadelphia 11 in 1974.

Divinity School establishes Sue Hiatt Chair to honor pioneering priest

[EDS, Cambridge, Massachusetts, July 23, 2004] - Episcopal Divinity School will inaugurate a new chair honoring an alumna and professor who remains one of the school's most beloved trailblazers: Sue Hiatt.

The installation ceremony for the Sue Hiatt Chair in Feminist Pastoral Theology will be held on Tuesday, September 28, at 10 a.m.-noon. A panel of EDS leaders in the field will offer reflections on the impact of feminism on the life and pastoral practices of the church, even as they look to the future of feminist pastoral theology.

The Rev. Dr. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, associate professor of Pastoral Theology at EDS and a leader in antiracism and congregational development efforts on the local and national scene, said the panel discussion -- titled "Expanding Feminist Pastoral Theology: A Conversation about the Future" -- will highlight the commitment of feminist leaders like Hiatt to creating radical new ways of being in the church.

"This is a prime opportunity to look at what we've learned from our sisters and brothers who led the way toward women's ordination and leadership in the church," Kujawa-Holbrook said. "But this is also a new day. We need to ask important questions about what women's ordination means today, how the presence and power of women changes the church and seminary education. We want to pitch forward, to see how those insights apply given the complex realities of racial and gender bias today and tomorrow. That's being true to Sue's legacy."

Hiatt graduated from Episcopal Theological School in 1964. Ten years later, she was ordained one of the first female priests in the Episcopal Church. She returned to EDS to teach Pastoral Theology and retired in 1998 from her position as the John Seely Stone Professor of Homiletics and Pastoral Theology. She died in May 2002.

"Sue had such an incredibly fiery, wise, and courageous spirit, and she passed it to every single person she encountered," said The Rev. Ann Franklin, Director of Annual Giving for EDS and one of Hiatt's students. "It has meant so much to us all to create a chair bearing Sue's name as a way of holding out her example and witness for generations to come."

For more information about any of these events, please consult the EDS website at http://www.eds.edu/ and click on Upcoming Events or call EDS at 617-868-3450 x 373. The Episcopal Divinity School is located at 99 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Participants are encouraged to take public transportation as parking is limited. These events are handicap accessible.

Episcopal Divinity School is a center of study and spiritual formation for lay and ordained leaders with a commitment to justice, compassion, and reconciliation. Formed in 1974 with the merger of Philadelphia Divinity School and the Episcopal Theological School, EDS offers Doctor of Ministry and Master's degrees, and Certificates in Theological Studies. Located on an eight-acre campus just a few blocks from Harvard Yard, EDS is a member of the Boston Theological Institute, a consortium of nine theological schools, seminaries, and departments of religion.

Note: The following titles are available from the Episcopal Book/Resource Center, 815 Second Ave., New York, NY 10017; 800.334.7626; 

  • To Read: FREEDOM IS A DREAM: A Documentary History of Women in the Episcopal Church, edited by Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook (Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, 2002, 319 pages, $26.00)

From the publisher: "Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook has culled through 200 years of documents, speeches, and interviews to assemble the remarkable material collected here. Included are such writings as Sojourner Truth's impassioned speech for women's rights at one of the first national conferences on the topic; Elizabeth Cady Stanton's call for the creation of a Woman's Bible; and a powerful sermon from Pauli Murray, the first African American woman ordained to the priesthood."

  • To Read: LEADING LADIES: Transformative Biblical Images for Women's Leadership, by Jeanne Porter (Innisfree Press, Inc., Philadelphia, 2000, 158 pages, $13.95)

From the publisher: "Leading Ladies presents transformative images that recognize women who lead in all walks of life and expand our definition of 'leader.' Dr. Porter introduces four female archetypes from the Bible who honor women's experiences and perspectives: The Midwife (Puah and Shiprah), helps birth ideas and dreams; The Choreographer (Miriam), brings people together to celebrate; The Weaver (Deborah), braids together her vision for the future; The Intercessor (Esther), advocates on behalf of others."