Episcopal Women's Organizations




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Women's Ministries
History of
Women's Ordination

View History in PDF
8.5 x 11 Format

A Chronology of

View Chronology in PDF 8.5 x 11 Format

The Philadelphia 11

The Washington 4

Women Bishops

A Chronology of Events Concerning WOMEN IN HOLY ORDERS
in the Episcopal Church, USA and the
world-wide Anglican Communion

1855 Bishop of Maryland sets apart two deaconesses
1862 Bishop of London orders deaconess by laying on hands.
1885 Deaconesses set apart with laying on of hands in Alabama and New York.
1889 Deaconesses canon adopted by General Convention.
1890 Deaconess Training programs begin in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco
1919 General Convention recommends including deaconesses in Clergy Pension Fund, but Board says they are not "clergy"
1920 Lambeth Conference concludes "ordination" of a deaconess confers on her holy orders.
1925 Commission recommends licensing women lay readers, but "disclaims purpose or desire" to consider women's ordination; Convention rejects lay reader recommendation
1930 Lambeth changes its mind, asserts deaconesses are not in holy orders.
1935 Church of England commission finds no reason for or against ordination of women, but affirms all-male priesthood "for the church today."
1944 Florence Li Tim-Oi ordained priest in Hong Kong by Bishop R.O. Hall. To protect Hall from censure, she agrees not to function as priest.
1948 Lambeth Conference refuses Hong Kong's request for "experiment" with women's ordination.
1958 Episcopal Theological School admits women to BD degree program.
1964 General Convention changes deaconess canon to read "ordered" rather than "appointed."

Deaconess Phyllis Edwards rec
ognized as deacon by Bishop James Pike, San Francisco.

1966 House of Bishops receives report "The Proper Place of Women in the Ministry of the Church" affirming ordaining women, asks Lambeth Conference to consider ordaining women to the priesthood.
1968 Lambeth agrees that deaconesses are within the diaconate, but refers the ordination of women back to member churches for further study. Hong Kong, Kenya, Korea and Canada begin ordaining women to diaconate.
1969 Special General Convention authorizes women lay readers & chalice bearers; appoints joint commission to study ordination of women
1970 At General Convention: women admitted as lay deputies after 50-year struggle; deaconess canon eliminated; women included in canon on deacons, eligible for Clergy Pension Fund; authorization for ordination of women to priesthood approved by laity but narrowly defeated by clerical deputies.
1971 New Anglican Consultative Council (lay and clergy representatives from member churches) declares it is "acceptable" for a bishop to ordain a woman if his (sic) national church or province approves. The Revs Jane Hwang and Joyce Bennett are ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Gilbert Baker of Hong Kong; Florence Li Tim-Oi's orders are recognized in absentia., and as China emerges from the cultural revolution she resumes priestly ministry in nationalized Chinese church. Episcopal Women's Caucus founded. American House of Bishops refers women's ordination for further study. Episcopal women begin to be ordained deacon alongside men.
1972 Women deacons speak to House of Bishops, at invitation of bishops' wives; Bishops vote 74-61 in favor of ordaining women priests.
1973 Oct: General Convention rejects ordination of women to priesthood; 56 bishops issue statement of distress. Dec: Women deacons presented alongside men for ordination to priesthood in New York, but bishop refuses
1974 June: Sermons preached in Cambridge, Philadelphia and Syracuse call for ordination of women to priesthood. July 10: Bishops, priests, women deacons and lay people meet in Philadelphia to plan an ordination. July 29: Eleven women deacons ordained to priesthood by two retired and one resigned bishop in Philadelphia. July 30: Some women priests inhibited by their bishops from priestly functions, some from deacon's service; others agree voluntarily to refrain from priestly ministry. July 31: Presiding Bishop John Allin calls emergency meeting of House of Bishops. Aug 15: Bishops meet in Chicago, decry the four bishops' "violation of collegiality," refuse to talk with women, and assert the ordinations were not valid. Women reject bishop's action; Charles Willie resigns as vice president of House of Deputies in protest. Aug: Ecclesiastical charges are filed against the Philadelphia bishops. Oct: House of Bishops reaffirms endorsement of ordaining women but votes almost unanimously not to act until General Convention approves. Oct 27: The Revs. Alison Cheek, Carter Heyward and Jeannette Piccard publicly celebrate an Episcopal Eucharist at New York City's Riverside Church. Nov: Alison Cheek celebrates at St Stephen's and the Incarnation in Washington DC at invitation of the Rev William Wendt, who is later charged, tried and disciplined for violating canons. Dec: Alison Cheek and Carter Heyward celebrate at Christ Church, Oberlin, Ohio, at invitation of the Rev Peter Beebe, who is charged and tried for violating canons.
1975 Jan: Carter Heyward and Suzanne Hiatt join faculty of Episcopal Divinity School. Apr: Board of Inquiry to consider charges against four bishops refuses jurisdiction, saying doctrinal issues must be resolved first. June 18: Anglican Church of Canada approves ordaining women. July: Church of England Synod approves women's ordination "in principle." Sept 7: Four women deacons ordained to priesthood at St Stephen's & Incarnation, Washington DC, by another retired bishop. Sept 19: House of Bishops censures all bishops who ordained women.
1976 Sept: General Convention approves the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. Nov 30: Anglican Church of Canada begins ordaining women.
1977 Jan: Women ordained in Philadelphia and Washington begin to be "regularized" and regular ordinations of women to the priesthood begin with 100 ordained by year's end. June 1: the Rev Beverly Messenger-Harris becomes first woman rector, in Sherrill, NY. Sept: Opponents to women's ordination form break-away church. Oct: Presiding Bishop Allin tells House of Bishops he "is unable to accept women in role of priests" and offers to resign. Bishops affirm Allin's leadership, adopt statement of conscience: assert that no one should be penalized for opposing, or supporting, women's ordination. Anglican Church in New Zealand begins ordaining women to priesthood.
1978 Lambeth accepts women's ordination, but recommends no province consecrate a woman bishop "without consultation with the Primates and overwhelming [local] support."
1979 The Rev Mary Michael Simpson, OSH, is candidate for suffragan in New York.
1981 Florence Li Tim-Oi emigrates to Toronto, resumes ministry in Anglican church. Philadelphia ordinand Jeannette Piccard named honorary canon in Minneapolis, dies at age 79; Nancy Wittig named honorary canon in Newark.
1982 Church of Brazil begins ordaining women deacons.
1983 Unofficial ordinations of women begin in Church of the Province of Kenya.
1984 Florence Li Tim-Oi celebrates 40th ordination anniversary at Westminster Abbey in London; unofficial ordinations of women begin in Church of Province of Uganda; Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire follow.
1985 American Bishops vote not to withhold consent for woman bishop; Brazil begins ordaining women to priesthood.
1986 Anglican Church of Canada rescinds "conscience clause," prohibits discrimination against ordained women.
1987 Church of England eliminates separate deaconess canon and begins ordaining women deacons. The Rev Geralyn Wolf of Philadelphia becomes Dean of Cathedral in Louisville KY.
1988 Aug: Lambeth rejects measure prohibiting women bishops, and commits to unity despite differences on the subject. Sept 24: The Rev Barbara C. Harris of Philadelphia is elected Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts.
1989 Jan: Despite vigorous opposition, necessary majorities of diocesan Standing Committees and bishops consent to Harris's election. Feb 11: Consecration of the Rt Rev Barbara C Harris in Boston, by Presiding Bishop Edmond L. Browning and 60 other bishops before crowd of 8,500, with the Revs Florence Li Tim Oi and Carter Heyward as concelebrants. June: Church of Scotland approves allowing women ordained elsewhere to celebrate the Eucharist. Nov: Diocese of Dunedin, New Zealand, elects Penelope Jamieson diocesan bishop.
1990 The Rt. Rev. Penelope Jamieson consecrated Bishop of Dunedin, New Zealand; Ireland approves ordaining women to priesthood and episcopate; Provincial Synod in Kenya approves ordaining women; Uganda House of Bishops approves ordaining women (Kenya and Uganda had been ordaining women unofficially for years).
1991 Woman ordained to priesthood in Quezon City, Philippines.
1992 Church in Province of Southern Africa authorizes ordination of women. The Rev Jane Holmes Dixon elected and consecrated suffragan bishop of Washington DC. The Rev Erica Wood elected Dean and President of College of Preachers, Washington DC. Church of England Synod authorizes drawing legislation to permit ordination of women. Anglican Church in Australia approves ordaining women. Another group of opponents to women's ordination forms another break-away church. Li Tim Oi dies in Toronto at age 84.
1993 June 5: Vermont elects Mary Adelia McLeod diocesan bishop. Nov: Victoria Matthews elected suffragan bishop of Toronto, in Anglican Church of Canada. Dec: Kenya ordains first women priest after approval.
1994: Feb: Church of England canons on ordination of women promulgated; Mar 12: first women ordained to priesthood in England. June: Episcopal Church in Scotland approves ordination of women to priesthood and episcopate. The Rev Martha Horne called as Dean of Virginia Theological Seminary. July 29: Twentieth Anniversary of Philadelphia ordinations, with nine of original ordinands concelebrating and Bishop Barbara Harris preaching in the Cathedral Church of the Saviour, Philadelphia (originally scheduled for the Church of the Advocate, the service had to be moved at the last moment because of roof problems). Scotland begins ordaining women
1995 Province of West Indies begins ordaining women
1996 Three women consecrated: Catherine Roskam, Suffragan of New York; Geralyn Wolf, Diocesan of Rhode Island; Carolyn Irish, Diocesan of Utah; Church in Barbadoes begins ordaining women priests; Church in Wales approves women's ordination
1997 Catherine Waynick consecrated Diocesan of Indianapolis; Victoria Matthews translated to Edmonton as Diocesan; Ann Tottenham consecrated Suffragan of Toronto; Church in Portugal begins ordaining women deacons
1998 Chilton Knudson consecrated Diocesan of Maine; eleven women join 700+ male bishops at Lambeth Conference
1999. First women ordained priest in Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Japan); July 29th, 25th Anniversary of Philadelphia Ordinations, with most of original ordinands, several women bishops and international visitors, Bishop Barbara Harris preaching, at Church of the Advocate, the original site.
2001 Katharine Jefferts Schori consecrated Diocesan of Nevada

Based on chronologies by Jan Pierce (1984) and Sue Pierce (1989). Information is incomplete, especially for other Churches in the Anglican Communion. Please send additions & corrections to: Pam Darling, GoodNewsWords, 501 Somerton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116, pam.darling@att.net http://pam.darling.home.att.net/index.html