Forty years ago today, the first 11 women in The Episcopal Church were ordained to the priesthood. It is my belief that our church, and the wider Christian Church, has been strengthened and enriched by this brave act forty years ago.
“May God bless the harvest of this moment, so that it will be not be a high moment in the history of the Episcopal Church but a holy moment in time,” prayed Charles Willie, the Vice-President of the House of Deputies, in his sermon on July 29, 1974. On that remarkable day, eleven female deacons were called, “to make no peace with oppression,” and were ordained to the priesthood in the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia.
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were being cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Above Images: 1) Women priests celebrating the Holy Eucharist, from the Records of the Episcopal News Service. 2) The Philadelphia Eleven kneeling at the altar during their ordination to the priesthood, located in the Records of the Communications Office (DFMS). 3) Image of Bishop Edward Welles leading the ceremony of laying on of hands, part of the rite of ordination, located in the Records of the Communications Office (DFMS).
Portions of the above were excerpted from Facebook posts of The Archives of The Episcopal Church.