Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership

Chronology of 
Women's Ordination

See also Woman Bishops, Germany Ecclesiastical Territories, Netherlands Substates, Switzerland Ecclesiastical Territories and Belgium Eccleastical Territories


The earliest abbesses were ordained. Later they were only blessed by a bishop.

A 2nd or 3rd century Christian inscription in Egypt for Artemidoras, whose mother is described as "Paniskianes, being an elder" (presbytera)

A memorial from the 3rd century for Ammion the elder (presbytera)

398 Fourth Synod of Carthage "A woman, however learned and holy, may not presume to teach men in an assembly...A woman may not baptize."


352 Council of Laodicea  Women were forbidden from the priesthood. They also were prohibited from presiding over churches. They decided that "One ought not to establish in the church the women called overseers (presbutidas)....women must not approach the altar."

A 3rd or 4th century burial site on the Greek island of Thera contains an epitaph referring to Epiktas, a "presbytis" (priest or presbyter). Epiktas is a woman's name.

A 4th or 5th century Sicilian inscription referring to Kale the elder. (presbytis)

An ancient mosaic which shows four female figures. One is identified as Bishop Theodora. The feminine form for bishop (episcopa) is used.

451 Council of Chalcedon Canon nr. 15 of the Council states: 7 "No woman under 40 years of age is to be ordained a deacon, and then only after close scrutiny." Apparently, the council wanted to start restricting the ordination of deaconesses, which must have been a common practice at the time. And, of course, anyone ordained to the Holy Order of Deacon would be eligible for later ordination to the priesthood as well. 

Until the 9th century ordained women Deacons in the East Church

1758 The Herrnhuts in Bohemia ordained 14 "sisters" with the right to preach in front of women. After the death of the founder of the domeniation, Ludwig von Zinzendorf in 1760 no more women were ordained.

1853 Antoinette Brown was ordained by the Congregationalist Church  (USA)
Refused ordination at first because of her sex, she held a Congregationalist pastorate in South Butler, N.Y for four years; she became the first ordained woman minister in the United States on her ordination on Sept. 15, 1853, but was dismissed in July 1854, evidently by her own wish. She later became a Unitarian. In 1856 she married Samuel C. Blackwell and they settled in New Jersey, where she frequently preached in Unitarian and othe rliberal pupits.
Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell lived (1825-1921).

1862 Anglican Church unordained deacons, 1965 ordained deacons and from 1970 it has been possible for the provinces which so wishes to ordain women priests.

1863 Olympia Brown was ordained by the Universalist denomination (USA)
Minister in various parishes and active in the suffrage movement. She was married to John Henry Willis, mother of two children, and lived (1835-1926).

1865 Salvation Army is founded and ordains both men and women.

1865 Armenian Church in Lebanon ordains deacons

1876 Christian Science ordains women ministers

1880 Methodist Preachers, 1920 Ministers, 1956 Priests ((SA)

1888 Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) Deacons, in 1966 Elders

1888 The Disciples of Christ, American Restoration Movement, also known as the Stone/Campbell movement first ordained Clara Hale Babcock. Less certain is Ellen Grant Gustin and Ema B. Frank both in 1873 and Mellissa Garrett in  1867.

1889 The Nolin Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church ordained Louisa Woosley

1890 The Mariauiten Church in Poland was founded by the nun Felicia Kolzlowska (Mother Maria Franziska) and has ordained female priests and bishops from sometime in the 1920s.

1911 Menoits/Algemeen Dopgezinde Societet in the Netherlands female priests

1915 Remonstrante broderschap, the Netherlands female priests

1914 Assemblies of God was founded and ordained its first woman clergy

1917 Congregational Church in England
It became part of the United Reformed Church in 1972, which then inherited the women's ministry from the Congreagational Churches.

1918 The Evangelian Churches of Czech Bretheren female deacons, and the first woman priest in 1956

1918 The Reformed Church of Zürich, Switzerland female priests. In 1956 also in Base

1918 United Free Church of Scotland ordains woman deacons. In 1929 also Elders and Ministers

1918 Northern Baptist Convention in USA

1920 Episcopal Church in the USA deacons and in 1974 priests

1920's Baptists

1926 Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Nederland ordains female priests

1927 Evangelical Church in Germany accepts Pfarrhelferinnen (Assistants to Priests), 1930s woman Vicars. In Eastern part of  Germany women took more and more over as actual priests during WW2, and remained so after  the war. 1960 Women priests in West Germany and 1978 total equality with male priests.

1929 Catholic Church of the Maravites in Poland

1930 The Reformed Church of Alsace-Lorraine, France woman priests

1930 United Church of Christ in Japan

1930 Evangelical Church of Argentina

1935 the first woman rabbi worldwide was ordained in Berlin: Regina Jonas
(she died in Auschwitz)

1936 United Church of Canada

1937 Protestant Church of Indonesia priests

Before 1938 Lutheran Church in Austria Vicars

1938 Eglise de la Confession d'Augsbourg d'Alsace-Lorraine in France Priests

1939 United Methodist Church (African Methodists had ordained women for decades previously)

1940 Methodists in India woman deacons

1941 Anglican communion, Hong Kong. Florence Li Tim Oi was ordained as Diacon on an emergency basis. In 1944 she was ordained as a full Minister. She lived (1907-92).

Before 1946 The Convention of the Younger Jesus in USA

Before 1946 A.M.E. Zion

Before 1946 The Church of the Nazareres

1947 Czechoslovak Hussite Church

1947 Presbyterian Church in West Africa elders

1947 Methodist Church in China deacons and the next year Elders

1948 Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark

1948 The Lutherans in Schlesia

1948 Christi Church of China priests

1949 Reformed Church in France
A fusion of a number of churches in 1938

1948 Methodists in Sweden deacons, elders in 1954

1949 Old Catholic Church (USA)

1951 The Lutherans in Slovakia

1952 Congregationalists in New Zealand

1952 Congregationalists in Australia

1952 United Church of Japan

Around 1952 Presbyterian Church in Chile elders

1955 Presbyterian in Church South Africa

1956 Presbyterian Church (USA)
Deacons since 1923.

1956 Baptists in Sweden

1956 Presbyterian Church in the United Kingdom

1956 Presbyterians in Ghana Ministers and elders

1956 Presbyterians in Thailand Ministers and elders

1956 Presbyterians in Taiwan Ministers and elders

1957 Greek Orthodox Church deacons

Around 1957 The Methodists in Cuba

1958 Presbyterians in the Netherlands

1960's Autocephalous Church Movement (The Catholic Apstolic Church/Old Catholics) ordaines the first women priests.

Around 1960 Methodist Church in South Africa

Around 1960 Methodist Church in South Korea

Around 1960 Methodist Church in South America

Around 1960 Methodist Church in Ireland

1960 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sweden

1961 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Norway

1961 Methodist Church in Fiji

1964 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium

1967 Presbyterian Church in Canada

1968 Vrijzinnig Hervormd Kerk in the Netherlands

1970's Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

1971 Anglican communion, Hong Kong. Joyce Bennett and Jane Hwang were the first regularly ordained priests.

1972 Reform Judaism in USA

1972 Swedenborgian Church

1972 Methodist Church in Poland
(Pastor Ewa Dolej)

1973 Anglican Church in Wales

1974 Methodist Church in the UK

1974 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Iceland

1975 Reform Judaism in United Kingdom

1975 Anglican Church of Canada - first ordinations were 30 November 1976.

1976 Church of Ireland (Anglican)

1976 Free Wesleyan Church (Methodist) of Tonga's first female preacher was Siona 'Ungatea Fonua

1976 Episcopal Church (11 women were ordained in Philadelphia before church laws were changed to permit ordination)

1984 Church of North India

1985 Conservative Judaism first rabbi in USA

1986/88 Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland

1988 Indonesian Lutheran Church

1990 The Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa

1990 Rabbi in France

1990 First female Methodist Minister in Tonga (Sela Taufatofua Manu)

1992 Church of England

1992 Anglican Church of South Africa

1992 Anglican Church of Australia

1994 Church of England

1994 Southern Baptists in USA
Decided to leave it to the Local communities

1995 Seventh-day Adventists (Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park VA 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 their decision

1995 First female Rabbi in Germany

1996 The first women priest in the Old Catholic Church in Germany were
ordained 

1997 The Philippine Independent Church ordained its first woman priest
Rosalina Villaruel Rabaria became the first female priest in the church, which is in full communion with all the Churches of the Anglican Communion.

1998 first female priests in the Old Cahtolic Church in Austria

1998 General Assembly of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church in Japan)

1998 Guatemalan Presbyterian Synod

1998 Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands

1999 Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil (ordination of clergy and 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

2000 Evangelical Church in Ethiopia
Two female priests Hirut Megersa and Bekure Daba

2001 Evangelican Church in Cameroon ordained five female priests.

2001 first female priests in the Old Catholic Church in Switzerland.

2003 The Evangelical-Reformed Church (The Evangelian Church of Czech Bretheren) in Poland
(Pastor Wiera Jelinek)


2003
Dutch Reformed Church of Botswana (Monnie Kgosiemang)

2005 The Calvinist Protestant Church in South Africa (Jeanéne Matthyse)

 

Last update 05.08.08