168 Years of Female Ordination

Antoinette Brown Blackwell, first woman to be ordained a minister of a recognized denomination in the USA.

In 1853, the United Church of Christ became the first U.S. denomination to ordain a woman for congregational leadership. Antoinette Brown Blackwell, a prominent suffragette, was ordained pastor of the Congregational Church in South Butler, New York. A “Rev.” Luther Lee preached the ordination message from Galatians 3:28–“there is neither male nor female … in Christ Jesus” (“Women’s History Month,” The Christian Post, Mar. 7, 2021). He conveniently overlooked God’s clear commandment in 1 Timothy 2:12. In 1875, Pauline Martindale was ordained an elder in the Methodist Protestant Church. In 1888, the Disciples of Christ ordained Clara Babcock as a pastor. In 1889, Ella Niswonger was the first woman ordained by the United Brethren Church. The Assemblies of God ordained women from its inception in 1914, and in 2018 elected Donna Barrett as its first female general secretary. In 1956, the Presbyterian Church USA ordained its first female “clergyperson,” Margaret Towner. The United Methodist Church, which was formed in 1968, granted “full clergy rights” for women from its inception. In 1970, the newly formed Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches voted to allow female ordination. In 1976, the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women. Two years earlier, the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, an Episcopal church, had ordained 11 women in defiance of denominational law. Charles Willie, who preached at the service, declared that “it is a Christian duty to disobey unjust laws” (“11 Women Ordained,” New York Times, July 30, 1974). He was wrong. It is a Christian duty “to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), but God stands against female ordination. The apostle Paul stated, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:12). Female ordination is end-time apostasy.

(Friday Church News Notes, March 19, 2021, www.wayoflife.org, fbns@wayoflife.org, 866-295-4143)