Friday, April 28, 2006
More thoughts on 50 yrs of ordaining women in the UMC
I am glad to be part of this fine church, The United Methodist Church that has been ordaining women for 50 years. Women of all ages and stages in life still continue to be ordained. I will be giving you a brief history but you can find out more here.
You see, from the beginning Clergywomen have been a part of the United Methodist Church and its predecessor bodies since Methodism's earliest days in the United States. In 1761, Sarah Crosby became the first woman licensed to preach by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.
The Methodist Church voted to give women full clergy rights at its 1956 General Conference. Maude Jensen in the Central Pennsylvania Conference was the first woman to become a full member of an annual conference when she was received on trial shortly after General Conference met.
The United Methodist Church has elected 21 women bishops -- 16 active, 4 retired and one deceased. The UM Church was the first mainline Christian denomination to have a woman bishop, Marjorie Swank Matthews, who was elected and consecrated in 1980.
Did you know? There are around 9,500 clergywomen in The United Methodist Church. Of that number, there were 5,059 elders, 987 deacons in full connection, 1,094 probationary members, 338 associate members, 809 full-time local pastors, and 1,196 part-time local pastors. Almost 21% of United Methodist Clergy are women. The number of women going to Seminary continue to grow.
Let's see, that means I was three years old when they first started ordaining women. I was attending the Southern Baptist church with my parents. I was ordained in 1980 at my home church, First Baptist Church of Crystal River, Florida. I was two years out of seminary, and serving as a Chaplain in Hospital. That means I have been ordained 26 years of the 50 years. Seven years were as a Southern Baptist; and the other 19 have been as an Elder in the United Methodist Church. Wow.