RECENT KEY DATES FOR WOMEN IN THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION IN AMERICA

 

1853

Ordination of Antoinette Brown in a Congregational church.

 

1884

African Methodist Episcopal Church licenses women to preach as evangelists.

 

1906

Methodist Episcopal Church gives women lay rights.

 

1924

Methodist Episcopal Church begins ordaining of women as local preachers, but does not give them full membership in the General Conference.

 

1948

African Methodist Episcopal Church decides to ordain women as ministers.

 

1956

United Methodist Church gives full Conference rights to women ministers.

 

1956

United Presbyterian Church U.S.A. begins to ordain women.

 

1970

Women are ordained in the Lutheran Church of America and the American Lutheran Church (now Evangelical Lutheran Church of America).

 

1972

Women are 4.7% of the students in seminaries.

 

1974

Leadership Conference of Women Religious resolves that all ministries in the Church should be open to women and men as the Spirit calls them; and that women should have active participation in all decision-making bodies in the Roman Catholic Church.

 

1974

"Irregular ordination" of 11 women as Episcopalian priests.

 

1975

First meeting of the Women’s Ordination Conference, in Detroit.

 

1976

Episcopalian General Convention decides to legalize the ordination of women as priests.

 

1976

"Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood" issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 

October 7, 1979

Teresa Kane, as President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious welcomes John Paul II to the U.S. and challenges him to give women access to all ministries of the Roman Catholic Church.

 

1980

Women are 15% of the students in seminaries.

 

1982

Roman Catholic Church begins to ordain married formerly-Episcopalian male priests (about 42).

 

1983

Conference in Chicago: "From Generation to Generation: Woman-Church Speaks."

 

1987

Conference in Cincinnati: "Women Church: Claiming Our Power."

 

March 1988

First draft of American Roman Catholic bishops’ pastoral letter on women, "Partners in the Mystery of Redemption."

 

Oct. 1988

John Paul II issues "Mulieris Dignitatum," "On the Dignity and Vocation of Women."

 

1989

Barbara Harris consecrated suffragen bishop in the Episcopal Church.

 

1990

Second draft of American Roman Catholic bishops’ pastoral letter on women, "One in Christ Jesus." It is not approved.

 

1990

Approximately 50% of the students in seminaries are women.

 

Nov. 1991

Bishop Kenneth Untener, Saginaw, Michigan, first U. S. Roman Catholic Bishop to publicly call for ordination of women.

 

Nov. 1992

A fews days before the NCCB meeting described below, the Church of England votes to ordain women as priests.

 

Nov. 18, 1992

The NCCB, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the American bishops do not approve the fourth and most conservative draft of their pastoral letter. 137 bishops voted for the pastoral, 110 against. 190 votes were needed to approve the document as a pastoral letter--a two-thirds majority. Earlier in the September 25, 1992, Commonweal, P. Francis Murphy, auxiliary bishop in Baltimore, had published a criticism of the letter. Even earlier in an August issue of America, Michael H. Kenny, bishop of Juneau, Alaska, had published a criticism of the third draft, in which he cited the inadequacy of using the nuptial analogy to prohibit women from the ordained priesthood.

 

Nov. 1992

A few days after the above NCCB meeting described above, the third woman is ordained Bishop in the Anglican communion. Jane Hart Holmes Dixon is made Suffragen (Auxiliary) Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., women and men priests and women and men bishops participate in her ordination. The bishops included Bp. Barbara Harris of Boston and Bp. Penelope A. B. Jamieson of Dunedin, New Zealand.

 

1993

Mary Adelia MacLeod is the first woman to be consecrated diocesan bishop (of Vermont) in the Episcopal Church.

 

1993

Re-Imagining, a feminist theology conference, meets in Minneapolis.

 

1994

The Vatican gives permission for girls to be altar servers.

 

1994

Pope John Paul II issues an apostolic letter, "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis," to Roman Catholic bishops stating "I declare that the church has no authority whatsoever to confer ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held" by Catholics, and that the matter is closed for discussion.

 

1994

The English translation of the new universal Catechism of the Catholic Church is published in June after a two-year delay during which the gender-inclusive language of earlier drafts was changed to sexist language: "man" or "men" is used to refer to human beings.

 

1994

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith overturns the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops' adoption of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) for use in liturgy and catechetical instruction. The reason given for rejecting the NRSV is its gender-inclusive language.

 

1994

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops adopts a short statement, "Strengthening the Bonds of Peace," in which they reject "authoritarian conduct" and sexism, and resolve to continue honest dialogue with Catholic women, and express gratitude for the leadership of women in parish, diocesan, and educational contexts in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church.

 

1995

The Thirty-fourth General Congregation of the Society of Jesus meeting in Rome adopts a statement entitled "Jesuits and the Situation of Women in Church and Civil Society." It calls for Jesuits and Jesuit institutions to "align themselves in solidarity with women."

 

1995

Pope John Paul II issues a "Letter to Women" expressing solidarity with women at the upcoming United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. He affirms the equal human dignity of women, and reaffirms that God gives men and women different roles in the Church. The pope apologizes to women for the role the Church has played in the oppression of women.

 

1995

The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issues a responsum entitled "Inadmissibility of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood" saying that Pope John Paul II’s "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium" (in otherwords the pope was exercising the ordinary teaching authority of the church and was not making a pronouncement ex cathedra). The responsum says that the prohibition on the ordination of women rests on "the written word of God" and the constant traditional practice of the Church. This view is to be "held always, everywhere and by all as belonging to the deposit of the faith."