Interactive timeline of the history of women’s ordination

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Posted Jul 28, 2014

To interact with this timeline, close the introduction and use the slider at the bottom to scroll through the events. To explore an event, click on it. You will then have options to read the details, delve deeper and connect with related online resources.

For a full screen version, click here.


Comments (10)

  1. The Rev. Peggy Blanchard says:

    Also in January 1977 the Rev. Ann Coburn and her husband Mike were ordained priest at St. James, Danbury CT. The Coburns had been deacons for several years, waiting for women’s ordination to pass. There was a massive turn out for the occasion, at which The Rt. Rev. John B. Coburn, Michael’s father, presided. Yes, there were a couple of the “men in black suits” who stood up and made objection to Ann’s ordination, but Bp. Coburn was well-prepared, succinctly responding to the objection and dismissing it. I recall reporters from the NYC news media in the church’s balcony, and our concern as to whether it would actually hold them up! As a new Episcopalian then, I had no idea of the significance of the occasion, although I was glad to be on the front row of the choir and able to see everything first hand. Later I came to appreciate deeply having been present for that historic event, and added deep admiration to the liking and respect I already for Ann. When she celebrated her first eucharist I was present, and it crossed my mind for the first time, that possibly I, too, might be ordained one day. Fifteen years later, on the occasion of my own ordination to the priesthood, I was profoundly thankful for the grace of having been present at Ann’s ordination and for having experienced her ministry.

  2. Katie Sherrod says:

    Susan Slaughter became the first woman ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth on November 15, 2009, by the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., provisional bishop of Fort Worth. She was ordained a deacon on Oct. 12, 2002. She was installed as the first woman rector by the Rt. Rev. Wallis Ohl, second provisional bishop of Fort Worth, on the same day she was ordained a priest.

    1. Mary Frances Schjonberg says:

      The Rev. Susan Slaughter’s ordination and that of the Rev. Suzanne Lynn Ward’s in the Diocese of San Joaquin, also in 2009, are both noted in the entry about the Rev. Margaret “Peggy” Lee.

  3. Columba Gilliss says:

    I’m another of the January ’77 priests. Bishop Wetmore ordained me in St. Ann’s Church for the Deaf in New York on the 30th. It was a deaf service. I had sent word to those who had protested at previous ordinations in the diocese asking them to contact the seminarian who would be interpreting for the bishop and other hearing people and although one or two did stand in protest none of them spoke. I am particularly grateful to the deaf priest who preached and others who came.
    Columba Gilliss

  4. Peggy Muncie says:

    I was GTS’s first woman graduate along with the now late, Page Elizabeth Smith Bigelow. She was ordained deacon in June of 1974 in Diocese of Newark.
    I was ordained deacon June 15, 1974 in Diocese of Long Island. Page was priested in January of 1777. I being 8 months pregnant in January waited until
    April 25, 1977. I was ordained in the chapel at Vassar College where I served on the campus ministry team. I was ordained for theDiocese of New York however
    Bishop Moore asked my Bishop since postulancy, The Rev Jonathan Goodhue Sherman to ordain me.
    Despite a protest on Long Island, there were over 45 priests laying hands on my head and welcoming me to the sacred order of priests.
    A special moment. When the Bishop processed in his chaplain carried the entire file of my seven years of preparation. He moved to the altar and placed the file in the center as if to dare anyone to object. Not a voice did. Praise God for that moment and every moment of the journey.

  5. Rosemary Gooden says:

    Thank you for sharing this information. There is a typo, however, in the date for Page’s ordination, which I assume was 1977. You wrote 1777. Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter. Everyone will know the date. I am writing a biography on Bishop Walter Dennis. I’d like to know what your experiences with him were like as well as any additional information you may wish to share. My book include’s a chapter on women’s ordination. You may reach me at the Diocese of Chicago. The bishop’s assistant will give you my contact information.

  6. Joan Gundersen says:

    Beryl Choi was another of the January 1977 ordinands. She was ordained in Pittsburgh by Bishop Robert Appleyard on January 9.

  7. The Rev Dr Ellen Barrett (Sr Helena,OSB) says:

    I too was ordained priest in January 1977 (on the 10th by Bishop Moore). Columba Gillis and I were clasmates at GTS a year behind Page and Peggy. Jeanette Piccard was at General with us in our Junior year. Annette Ruark (aka Anne Hazen) was ordained that same night at Holy Apostles, Manhattan. Columba sang the Gospel as deacon. Carter Heyward, who had been ‘received into her [priestly] order’ the night before was my priest presenter. I was present at both the 1973 and 1976 General Conventions and at Barbara Harris’s Consecration to the Episcopate. Many of the women mentioned on this timeline were/are known to me and should receive far more recognition than they have for making the Episcopal Church a more dynamic and inclusive outpost of the Jesus Movement. I am glad to see this timeline–as an historian I would like us all to be aware of our foremothers and never take for granted what they have made possible for so many more. ‘There were giants in the earth in those days!’ However, it is equally true that ‘la lucha continua!. God bless you all.

  8. Nancy Platt says:

    I was among the 35 women ordained else where because of the Montgomery Model. He and the Standing Committee of Chicago refused to testify
    to the suitability of a woman for ordination to the priesthood. Although Biship Primo would have ordained us, the Standing Committee’s behavior stopped all of that and we had to seek other Dioceses. I went to Massachusetts, Bishop Arnold came to Chicago to ordain me and then none of us were allowed
    to return to Chicago on paper for 6 months. Nothing changed until Bsp Griswold came to Chicago as Bishop about 4 years. Nice to have the timeline remembrance.

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