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Ordination of women

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected in 2006 as the first female Presiding Bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church and also the first female primate in the Anglican Communion.[1]

The ordination of women to ministerial or priestly office is a regular practice among some major religious groups of the present time, as it was of several religions of antiquity.

It remains a controversial issue in certain religions or denominations where the ordination, the process by which a person is consecrated and set apart for the administration of various religious rites, or where the role that an ordained person fulfills, has traditionally been restricted to men. That traditional restriction might have been due to cultural prohibition or theological doctrine, or both.

In some cases women have been permitted to be ordained, but not to hold higher positions, such as (until July 2014) that of bishop in the Church of England.[2] Where laws prohibit sex discrimination in employment, exceptions are often made for clergy (for example, in the United States).

Contents

  • Antiquity 1
    • Sumer and Akkad 1.1
    • Ancient Egypt 1.2
    • Ancient Greece 1.3
    • Ancient Rome 1.4
  • Hinduism 2
  • Buddhism 3
  • Christianity 4
    • Anglican 4.1
    • Community of Christ 4.2
    • Jehovah's Witnesses 4.3
    • Latter-day Saints 4.4
    • Liberal Catholic 4.5
    • Orthodox 4.6
    • Protestant 4.7
    • Roman Catholic 4.8
      • The Mariavite Church 4.8.1
      • Dissenters 4.8.2
    • Seventh-day Adventist 4.9
  • Islam 5
  • Judaism 6
  • Ryukyuan religion 7
  • Shinto 8
  • Sikhism 9
  • Taoism 10
  • Wicca 11
  • Yoruba 12
  • Zoroastrianism 13
  • Antiquity 14
    • Sumer and Akkad 14.1
    • Ancient Egypt 14.2
    • Ancient Greece 14.3
    • Ancient Rome 14.4
  • Hinduism 15
  • Buddhism 16
  • Christianity 17
    • Anglican 17.1
    • Community of Christ 17.2
    • Jehovah's Witnesses 17.3
    • Latter-day Saints 17.4
    • Liberal Catholic 17.5
    • Orthodox 17.6
    • Protestant 17.7
    • Roman Catholic 17.8
      • Dissenters 17.8.1
    • Seventh-day Adventist 17.9
  • Islam 18
  • Judaism 19
  • Ryukyuan religion 20
  • Shinto 21
  • Sikhism 22
  • Taoism 23
  • Wicca 24
  • Yoruba 25
  • Zoroastrianism 26
  • Timeline of women in religion 27
  • See also 28
  • References 29
  • Further reading 30
  • See also 31
  • References 32
  • Further reading 33

Antiquity

Sumer and Akkad

Cylinder seal (c. 2100 BCE) depicting goddesses conducting mortal males through a religious rite
  • Sumerian and Akkadian EN were top-ranking priestesses distinguished by special ceremonial attire and holding equal status to high priests. They owned property, transacted business, and initiated the hieros gamos ceremony with priests and kings.[3] Enheduanna (2285–2250 BCE), an Akkadian princess, was the first known holder of the title "EN Priestess".[4]
  • Ishtaritu were temple prostitutes who specialized in the arts of dancing, music, and singing and served in the temples of Ishtar.[5]
  • Puabi was a NIN, an Akkadian priestess of Ur in the 26th century BCE.
  • Nadītu served as priestesses in the temples of Inanna in the ancient city of Uruk. They were recruited from the highest families in the land and were supposed to remain childless; they owned property and transacted business.
  • In Sumerian epic texts such as Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, Nu-Gig were priestesses in temples dedicated to Inanna, or may be a reference to the goddess herself.[6]
  • Qadishtu, Hebrew Qedesha (קדשה) or Kedeshah,[7] derived from the root Q-D-Š,[8][9] are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as sacred prostitutes usually associated with the goddess Asherah.

Ancient Egypt

Sarcophagus of the Egyptian priestess Iset-en-kheb, 25th26th dynasty (7th–6th century BC)

In Ancient Egyptian religion, God's Wife of Amun was the highest ranking priestess; this title was held by a daughter of the High Priest of Amun, during the reign of Hatshepsut, while the capital of Egypt was in Thebes during the second millennium BC (circa 2160 BC).

Later, Divine Adoratrice of Amun was a title created for the chief priestess of Amun. During the first millennium BC, when the holder of this office exercised her largest measure of influence, her position was an important appointment facilitating the transfer of power from one pharaoh to the next, when his daughter was adopted to fill it by the incumbent office holder. The Divine Adoratrice ruled over the extensive temple duties and domains, controlling a significant part of the ancient Egyptian economy.

Ancient Egyptian priestesses:

Ancient Greece

Female figure carrying a torch and piglet to celebrate rites of Demeter and Persephone (from Attica, 140–130 BCE)

In ancient Greek religion, some important observances, such as the Thesmophoria, were made by women. Priestesses played a major role in the Eleusinian Mysteries. The Gerarai were priestesses of Dionysus who presided over festivals and rituals associated with the god. A body of priestesses might also maintain the cult at a particular holy site, such as the Peleiades at the oracle of Dodona. The Arrephoroi were young girls ages seven to twelve who worked as servants of Athena Polias on the Athenian Acropolis and were charged with conducting unique rituals.

At several sites women priestesses served as oracles , the most famous of which is the Oracle of Delphi. The priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi was the Pythia, credited throughout the Greco-Roman world for her prophecies, which gave her a prominence unusual for a woman in male-dominated ancient Greece. The Phrygian Sibyl presided over an oracle of Apollo in Anatolian Phrygia. The inspired speech of divining women, however, was interpreted by male priests; a woman might be a mantic (mantis) who became the mouthpiece of a deity through possession, but the "prophecy of interpretation" required specialized knowledge and was considered a rational process suited only to a male '"prophet" (prophētēs).[11][12]

Ancient Rome

See also Women in ancient Rome: Religious life
The Virgo Vestalis Maxima, the highest-ranking of the Vestal Virgins

The Latin word sacerdos, "priest," is the same for both the grammatical genders. In Roman state religion, the priesthood of the Vestals was responsible for the continuance and security of Rome as embodied by the sacred fire that they could not allow to go out. The Vestals were a college of six sacerdotes (plural) devoted to Vesta, goddess of the hearth, both the focus of a private home (domus) and the state hearth that was the center of communal religion. Freed of the usual social obligations to marry and rear children, the Vestals took a vow of chastity in order to devote themselves to the study and correct observance of state rituals that were off-limits to the male colleges of priests.[13] They retained their religious authority until the Christian emperor Gratian confiscated their revenues[14] and his successor Theodosius I closed the Temple of Vesta permanently.[15]

The Romans also had at least two priesthoods that were each held jointly by a married couple, the rex and regina sacrorum, and the flamen and flaminica Dialis. The regina sacrorum ("queen of the sacred rites") and the flaminica Dialis (high priestess of Jupiter) each had her own distinct duties and presided over public sacrifices, the regina on the first day of every month, and the flaminica every nundinal cycle (the Roman equivalent of a week). The highly public nature of these sacrifices, like the role of the Vestals, indicates that women's religious activities in ancient Rome were not restricted to the private or domestic sphere.[16] So essential was the gender complement to these priesthoods that if the wife died, the husband had to give up his office. This is true of the flaminate, and probably true of the rex and regina.[16]

The title sacerdos was often specified in relation to a deity or temple,[16][17] such as a sacerdos Cereris or Cerealis, "priestess of Ceres", an office never held by men.[18] Female sacerdotes played a leading role in the sanctuaries of Ceres and Proserpina in Rome and throughout Italy that observed so-called "Greek rite" (ritus graecus). This form of worship had spread from Sicily under Greek influence, and the Aventine cult of Ceres in Rome was headed by male priests.[19] Only women celebrated the rites of the Bona Dea ("Good Goddess"), for whom sacerdotes are recorded.[20]

Latin dedication to the goddess Isis Augusta by Lucretia Fida, a sacerdos (priest), from Roman Iberia[21]

From the Mid Republic onward, religious diversity became increasingly characteristic of the city of Rome. Many religions that were not part of Rome's earliest state religion offered leadership roles as priests for women, among them the imported cult of Isis and of the Magna Mater ("Great Mother", or Cybele). An epitaph preserves the title sacerdos maxima for a woman who held the highest priesthood of the Magna Mater's temple near the current site of St. Peter's Basilica.[22] Inscriptions for the Imperial era record priestesses of Juno Populona and of deified women of the Imperial household.[16]

Under some circumstances, when cults such as mystery religions were introduced to Romans, it was preferred that they be maintained by women. Although it was Roman practice to incorporate other religions instead of trying to eradicate them,[23] the secrecy of some mystery cults was regarded with suspicion. In 189 BCE, the senate attempted to suppress the Bacchanals, claiming the secret rites corrupted morality and were a hotbed of political conspiracy. One provision of the senatorial decree was that only women should serve as priests of the Dionysian religion, perhaps to guard against the politicizing of the cult,[24] since even Roman women who were citizens lacked the right to vote or hold political office. Priestesses of Liber, the Roman god identified with Dionysus, are mentioned by the 1st-century BC scholar Varro, as well as indicated by epigraphic evidence.[16]

Other religious titles for Roman women include magistra, a high priestess, female expert or teacher; and ministra, a female assistant, particularly one in service to a deity. A magistra or ministra would have been responsible for the regular maintenance of a cult. Epitaphs provide the main evidence for these priesthoods, and the woman is often not identified in terms of her marital status.[16][17]

Hinduism

King Janaka of Videha is described, she challenged the sage Yajnavalkya with perturbing questions on the atman (soul).[27]

Bhairavi Brahmani is a guru of Sri Ramakrishna. She initiated Ramakrishna into Tantra. Under her guidance, Ramakrishna went through sixty four major tantric sadhanas which were completed in 1863.[28]

In 2014 an all-female akhada (group of sadhus) was formed; it is believed to be the first such group in India.[29]

Ramakrishna Sarada Mission is the modern 21st century monastic order for women. The order was conducted under the guidance of the Ramakrishna monks until 1959, at which time it became entirely independent. It currently has centers in various parts of India, and also in Sydney, Australia.

There are two types of Hindu priests, purohits and pujaris. Both women and men are ordained as purohits and pujaris.[30][31] Chanda Vyas, born in Kenya, was Britain's first female Hindu priest.[32]

Furthermore, both men and women are Hindu gurus.[33] Shakti Durga, formerly known as Kim Fraser, was Australia's first female guru.[34]

Buddhism

Ani Pema Chodron, an American woman who was ordained as a bhikkhuni (a fully ordained Buddhist nun) in a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in 1981. Pema Chödrön was the first American woman to be ordained as a Buddhist nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.[35][36]

The tradition of the ordained monastic community in Buddhism (the sangha) began with the Buddha, who established an order of monks.[37] According to the scriptures,[38] later, after an initial reluctance, he also established an order of nuns. Fully ordained Buddhist nuns are called bhikkhunis.[39][40] Mahapajapati Gotami, the aunt and foster mother of Buddha, was the first bhikkhuni; she was ordained in the sixth century B.C.E.[41][41][42]

Prajñādhara is the twenty-seventh Indian Patriarch of Zen Buddhism and is believed to have been a woman.[43]

In the Mahayana tradition during the 13th century, the Japanese Mugai Nyodai became the first female abbess and thus the first ordained female Zen master.[44]

However, the bhikkhuni ordination once existing in the countries where Theravada is more widespread died out around the 10th century, and novice ordination has also disappeared in those countries. Therefore, women who wish to live as nuns in those countries must do so by taking eight or ten precepts. Neither laywomen nor formally ordained, these women do not receive the recognition, education, financial support or status enjoyed by Buddhist men in their countries. These "precept-holders" live in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, and Thailand. In particular, the governing council of Burmese Buddhism has ruled that there can be no valid ordination of women in modern times, though some Burmese monks disagree. Japan is a special case as, although it has neither the bhikkhuni nor novice ordinations, the precept-holding nuns who live there do enjoy a higher status and better education than their precept-holder sisters elsewhere, and can even become Zen priests.[45] In Tibet there is currently no bhikkhuni ordination, but the Dalai Lama has authorized followers of the Tibetan tradition to be ordained as nuns in traditions that have such ordination.

The bhikkhuni ordination of Buddhist nuns has always been practiced in East Asia.[46] In 1996, through the efforts of Sakyadhita, an International Buddhist Women Association, ten Sri Lankan women were ordained as bhikkhunis in Sarnath, India.[47] Also, bhikkhuni ordination of Buddhist nuns began again in Sri Lanka in 1998 after a lapse of 900 years.[48] In 2003 Ayya Sudhamma became the first American-born woman to receive bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka.[40] Furthermore, on February 28, 2003, Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, formerly known as Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, became the first Thai woman to receive bhikkhuni ordination as a Theravada nun (Theravada is a school of Buddhism).[49] Dhammananda Bhikkhuni was ordained in Sri Lanka.[50] Dhammananda Bhikkhuni's mother Venerable Voramai, also called Ta Tao Fa Tzu, had become the first fully ordained Thai woman in the Mahayana lineage in Taiwan in 1971.[51][52]

A 55-year-old Thai Buddhist 8-precept white-robed maechee nun, Varanggana Vanavichayen, became the first woman ordained as a monk in Thailand, in 2002.[53] Since then, the Thai Senate has reviewed and revoked the secular law passed in 1928 banning women's full ordination in Buddhism as unconstitutional for being counter to laws protecting freedom of religion. However Thailand's two main Theravada Buddhist orders, the Mahanikaya and Dhammayutika Nikaya, have yet to officially accept fully ordained women into their ranks.

In 2009 in Australia four women received bhikkhuni ordination as Theravada nuns, the first time such ordination had occurred in Australia.[54] It was performed in Perth, Australia, on 22 October 2009 at Bodhinyana Monastery. Abbess Vayama together with Venerables Nirodha, Seri, and Hasapanna were ordained as Bhikkhunis by a dual Sangha act of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis in full accordance with the Pali Vinaya.[55]

In 1997 [61] The Vajra Dakini Nunnery does not follow The Eight Garudhammas.[63] Also in 2010, in Northern California, 4 novice nuns were given the full bhikkhuni ordination in the Thai Theravada tradition, which included the double ordination ceremony. Bhante Gunaratana and other monks and nuns were in attendance. It was the first such ordination ever in the Western hemisphere.[64] The following month, more bhikkhuni ordinations were completed in Southern California, led by Walpola Piyananda and other monks and nuns. The bhikkhunis ordained in Southern California were Lakshapathiye Samadhi (born in Sri Lanka), Cariyapanna, Susila, Sammasati (all three born in Vietnam), and Uttamanyana (born in Myanmar).[65]

The first bhikkhuni ordination in Germany, the Theravada bhikkhuni ordination of German nun Samaneri Dhira, occurred on June 21, 2015 at Anenja Vihara.[66]

The first Theravada ordination of bhikkhunis in Indonesia after more than a thousand years occurred in 2015 at Wisma Kusalayani in Lembang, Bandung.[67] Those ordained included Vajiradevi Sadhika Bhikkhuni from Indonesia, Medha Bhikkhuni from Sri Lanka, Anula Bhikkhuni from Japan, Santasukha Santamana Bhikkhuni from Vietnam, Sukhi Bhikkhuni and Sumangala Bhikkhuni from Malaysia, and Jenti Bhikkhuni from Australia.[67]

Christianity

Traditional view: Christ ordains St Peter as head of the Church
First witness: Mary Magdalene sees the risen Christ

In the liturgical traditions of Christianity, including the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism and Anglicanism, the term ordination refers more narrowly to the means by which a person is included in one of the orders of bishops, priests or deacons. This is distinguished from the process of consecration to religious orders, namely nuns and monks, which are open to women and men. Some Protestant denominations understand ordination more generally as the acceptance of a person for pastoral work.

Supporters of the admission of women to Christian priesthood have argued the existence of documented instances of ordained women in the Early Church, as deacons, priests or bishops.[68] In AD 494 Pope Gelasius I wrote a letter condemning female participation in the celebration of the Eucharist, a role he felt was reserved for men.[69]

The ordination of women has once again been a controversial issue in more recent years; while many Christian denominations have responded positively to modern views of gender equality, some traditionalists take a more conservative view and oppose the admission of women into the priesthood. For example, some Anglo-Catholics or Evangelicals, while theologically very different, may share opposition to female ordination.[70] Evangelical Christians who place emphasis on the infallibility of the Bible base their opposition to women's ordination partly upon the writings of the Apostle Paul, such as Ephesians 5:23, 1 Timothy 2:11-15, which appears to demand male leadership in the Church.[71] Traditionalist Roman and orthodox Catholics may allude to Jesus Christ's choice of disciples as evidence of his intention for an exclusively male apostolic succession, as laid down by early Christian writers such as Tertullian and reiterated in the 1976 Vatican Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood.[72]

Supporters of women's ordination may point to the role of notable female figures in the Bible such as Phoebe, Junia (considered an apostle by Paul) and others in Romans 16:1, the female disciples of Jesus, and the women at the crucifixion who were the first witnesses to the Resurrection of Christ, as supporting evidence of the importance of women as leaders in the Early Church. They may also rely on exegetical interpretations of scriptural language related to gender.[71][73][74]

Anglican

In 1917 the Church of England licensed women as lay readers called bishop's messengers, many of whom ran churches, but did not go as far as to ordain them.

Within [75]

The first three women priests ordained in the Anglican Communion were in the Anglican Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao: Li Tim-Oi in 1944 and Jane Hwang and Joyce Bennett in 1971.

On July 29, 1974, Bishops Daniel Corrigan, Robert L. DeWitt, and Edward R. Welles of the US Episcopal Church, with Bishop Antonio Ramos of Costa Rica, ordained eleven women as priests in a ceremony that was widely considered "irregular" because the women lacked "recommendation from the standing committee," a canonical prerequisite for ordination. The "Philadelphia Eleven", as they became known, were Merrill Bittner, Alison Cheek, Alla Bozarth (Campell), Emily C. Hewitt, Carter Heyward, Suzanne R. Hiatt (d. 2002), Marie Moorefield, Jeannette Piccard (d. 1981), Betty Bone Schiess, Katrina Welles Swanson (d. 2006), and Nancy Hatch Wittig.[76] Initially opposed by the House of Bishops, the ordinations received approval from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in September 1976. This General Convention approved the ordination of women to both the priesthood and the episcopate.

Reacting to the action of the General Convention, clergy and laypersons opposed to the ordination of women to the priesthood met in convention at the Congress of St. Louis and attempted to formed a rival Anglican church in the US and Canada. Despite the plans for a united North American church, the result was division into several Continuing Anglican churches, which now make up part of the Continuing Anglican movement.

The first woman to become a bishop in the Anglican Communion was [75][77] and as of 2014, women have served or are serving as bishops in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, South Africa, South India and in the extra provincial Episcopal Church of Cuba. The Church of England ordained Libby Lane as its first female bishop in 2015.[78] It had ordained 32 women as its first female priests in March 1994.[79] In 2015 Rachel Treweek was consecrated as the first female diocesan bishop in the Church of England (Diocese of Gloucester).[80] She and Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton, were the first women to be consecrated and ordained bishop in Canterbury Cathedral.[80] Also that year Rachel Treweek became the first female bishop in the House of Lords, thus making her at the time the most senior female bishop in the Church of England.[81]

On June 18, 2006, the Episcopal Church became the first Anglican province to elect a woman, the Most Rev Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, as Primate (leader of an Anglican province), called the "Presiding Bishop" in the United States.[82]

Community of Christ

The [83] which was one of the reasons for the schism between the Community of Christ and the newly formed Restoration Branches movement, which was largely composed of members of the Community of Christ church (then known as the RLDS church) who refused to accept this development and other doctrinal changes taking place during this same period. For example, the Community of Christ also changed the name of one of its priesthood offices from evangelist-patriarch to evangelist, and its associated sacrament, the patriarchal blessing, to the evangelist's blessing. In 1998, Gail E. Mengel and Linda L. Booth became the first two women apostles in the Community of Christ.[84] At the 2007 World Conference of the church, Becky L. Savage was ordained as the first woman to serve in the First Presidency.[85][86] In 2013, Linda L. Booth became the first woman elected to serve as president of the Council of Twelve.[87]

Jehovah's Witnesses

their branch offices.[90]

Nevertheless, Witness elders must be male, and only a baptized adult male may perform a Jehovah's Witness baptism, funeral, or wedding.[91] Within the congregation, a female Witness minister may only lead prayer and teaching when there is a special need, and must do so wearing a head covering.[92][93][94]

Latter-day Saints

  • 6th century BCE Mahapajapati Gotami, the aunt and foster mother of Buddha, was the first woman to receive Buddhist ordination.[41][42]
  • 5th century? Prajñādhara (Prajnatara), the twenty-seventh Indian Patriarch of Zen Buddhism and teacher of Bodhidharma, is believed to have been a woman.[43]
  • 13th century The first female Zen master, as well as the first Zen abbess, was the Japanese abbess Mugai Nyodai (born 1223 - died 1298).[197][198]
  • 17th century: Asenath Barzani led and taught at a yeshiva in Iraq.[199]
  • Circa 1770: Mary Evans Thorne was appointed class leader by [200]
  • Late 18th century: John Wesley allowed women to preach within his Methodist movement.[114]
  • Early 19th century: A fundamental belief[201] of the Society of Friends (Quakers) has always been the existence of an element of God's spirit in every human soul.[196] Thus all persons are considered to have inherent and equal worth, independent of their gender, and this led to an acceptance of female ministers.[196] In 1660, [202] became the first female Quaker minister.Elizabeth Hooton Furthermore, in England in the 17th century [196]
  • 19th century: Women's mosques, called nusi, and female imams have existed since the 19th century in China and continue today.[153]
  • 19th century: [165]
  • 1807: The Primitive Methodist Church in Britain first allowed female ministers.
  • 1810: The Christian Connection Church, an early relative of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, ordained women as early as 1810.
  • 1815:
    • Clarissa Danforth was ordained in New England. She was the first woman ordained by the Free Will Baptist denomination.
    • The first petition for the African Methodist Episcopal Church General Conference to license women to preach is defeated.[203]
  • 1843: Women were first included in Mormon prayer circles on September 28, 1843.[204]
  • 1848: The Conference of Badasht was held that set in motion the public existence and promulgation of the Bábí religion.[205] Around eighty men and Táhirih attended the conference. The conference is considered by Bábís and Bahá'ís as a signal moment that demonstrated that Islamic Sharia law had been abrogated and superseded by Bábí law,[206][207] as well as a key demonstration of the thrust of raising the social position of women.[208]
  • 1853: Antoinette Brown Blackwell was the first woman ordained as a minister in the United States.[209] She was ordained by a church belonging to the Congregationalist Church.[210] However, her ordination was not recognized by the denomination.[196] She later quit the church and became a Unitarian.[196] The Congregationalists later merged with others to create the United Church of Christ, which ordains women.[196][211]
  • 1861: Mary A. Will was the first woman ordained in the Wesleyan Methodist Connection by the Illinois Conference in the United States. The Wesleyan Methodist Connection eventually became the Wesleyan Church.
  • 1863: Olympia Brown was ordained by the Universalist denomination in 1863, the first woman ordained by that denomination, in spite of a last-moment case of cold feet by her seminary which feared adverse publicity.[212] After a decade and a half of service as a full-time minister, she became a part-time minister in order to devote more time to the fight for women's rights and universal suffrage.[196] In 1961, the Universalists and Unitarians joined to form the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).[213] The UUA became the first large denomination to have a majority of female ministers.[196]
  • 1865: The Salvation Army was founded, which in the English Methodist tradition always ordained both men and women.[196] However, there were initially rules that prohibited a woman from marrying a man who had a lower rank.[196]
  • 1866: Helenor M. Davison was ordained as a deacon by the North Indiana Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church, probably making her the first ordained woman in the Methodist tradition.[200]
  • 1869:
    • Margaret Newton Van Cott became the first woman in the Methodist Episcopal Church to receive a local preacher's license.[200]
    • Lydia Sexton (of the United Brethren Church) was appointed chaplain of the Kansas State Prison at the age of 70, the first woman in the United States to hold such a position.[200]
  • 1871: Celia Burleigh became the first female Unitarian minister.[196]
  • 1876: Anna Oliver was the first woman to receive a Bachelor of Divinity degree from an American seminary (Boston University School of Theology).[200]
  • 1876: Julia Evelina Smith's 1876 Bible translation, titled The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments; Translated Literally from the Original Tongues, is considered the first complete translation of the Bible into English by a woman.[214]
  • 1879: The Church of Christ, Scientist was founded by a woman, Mary Baker Eddy.[215]
  • 1880: Anna Howard Shaw was the first woman ordained in the Methodist Protestant Church, an American church which later merged with other denominations to form the United Methodist Church.[216]
    • Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott became the first Westerners to receive the refuges and precepts, the ceremony by which one traditionally becomes a Buddhist; thus Blavatsky was the first Western woman to do so.[217]
  • 1884: Julie Rosewald, called "Cantor Soprano" by her congregation, became America’s first female cantor, serving San Francisco’s Temple Emanu-El from 1884 until 1893, although she was not ordained.[218][219] She was born in Germany.[220]
  • 1886: Louise "Lulu" Fleming becomes the first black woman to be commissioned for career missionary service by the Women’s Baptist Foreign Missionary Society of the West.[203]
  • 1888:
    • Sarah E. Gorham becomes the first woman missionary of the African Methodist Episcopal Church appointed to a foreign field.[203]
    • Fidelia Gillette may have been the first ordained woman in Canada.[196] She served the Universalist congregation in Bloomfield, Ontario, during 1888 and 1889.[196] She was presumably ordained in 1888 or earlier.[196]
  • 1889:
    • The Nolin Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church ordained Louisa Woosley as the first female minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, USA.[221]
    • Ella Niswonger was the first woman ordained in the American United Brethren Church, which later merged with other denominations to form the American United Methodist Church, which has ordained women with full clergy rights and conference membership since 1956.[200][222]
  • 1890: On September 14, 1890, Ray Frank gave the Rosh Hashana sermon for a community in Spokane, Washington, thus becoming the first woman to preach from a synagogue pulpit, although she was not a rabbi.[223]
  • 1892: Anna Hanscombe is believed to be the first woman ordained by the parent bodies which formed the Church of the Nazarene in 1919.[196]
  • 1894: Julia A. J. Foote was the first woman to be ordained as a deacon by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.[200]
  • 1909:
    • The Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) began ordaining women in 1909.[196]
    • Women were first elected to the procurer of the Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Chicago - the Bahai Temple Unity. Of the nine members elected by secret ballot three were women with Corinne True (later appointed as a Hand of the Cause) serving as an officer.[224]
  • 1911:
    • Ann Allebach was the first Mennonite woman to be ordained.[196] This occurred at the First Mennonite Church of Philadelphia.[196]
    • St. Joan's International Alliance, founded in 1911, was the first Catholic group to work for women being ordained as priests.[225][226]
  • 1912: Olive Winchester, born in America, became the first woman ordained by any trinitarian Christian denomination in the United Kingdom when she was ordained by the Church of the Nazarene.[227][228]
  • 1914: The Assemblies of God was founded and ordained its first woman pastors in 1914.[196]
  • 1917:
    • The Church of England appointed female "bishop's messengers" to preach, teach, and take missions in the absence of men.
    • The Congregationalist Church (England and Wales) ordained their first woman, Constance Coltman (née Todd), at the King's Weigh House, London.[229] Its successor is the United Reformed Church[196][230] (a union of the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England in 1972). Since then two more denominations have joined the union: The Reformed Churches of Christ (1982) and the Congregational Church of Scotland (2000). All of these denominations ordained women at the time of Union and continue to do so. The first woman to be appointed General Secretary of the United Reformed Church was Roberta Rominger in 2008.
  • 1918: Alma Bridwell White, head of the Pillar of Fire Church, became the first female bishop in the United States.[117][118]
  • 1920: The Methodist Episcopal Church granted women the right to become licensed as local preachers.[200]
  • 1920s: Some Baptist denominations started ordaining women.[196]
  • 1922:
    • The Jewish Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis stated that "...woman cannot justly be denied the privilege of ordination."[231] However, the first woman in Reform Judaism to be ordained (Sally Priesand) was not ordained until 1972.[167]
    • The Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren granted women the right to be licensed into the ministry, but not to be ordained with the same status as men.[196]
  • 1924:
    • The Methodist Episcopal Church granted women limited clergy rights as local elders or deacons, without conference membership.[200]
    • Varanggana Vanavichayen became the first female monk to be ordained in Thailand in 2002.
    • 1929: Izabela Wiłucka-Kowalska was the first woman to be ordained by the Old Catholic Mariavite Church in Poland.
    • 1930: A predecessor church of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained its first female as an elder.[196]
    • 1935:
      • Regina Jonas was ordained privately by a German rabbi and became the world's first female rabbi.[164]
      • Women were commissioned as deacons in the Church of Scotland from 1935.
    • 1936: Lydia Emelie Gruchy became the first female minister in the United Church of Canada. In 1953, the Reverend Lydia Emelie Grouchy was the first Canadian woman to receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity.[232]
    • 1938: Tehilla Lichtenstein became the first Jewish American woman to serve as the spiritual leader of an ongoing Jewish congregation, although she was not ordained.[233]
    • 1944: Florence Li Tim Oi became the first woman to be ordained as an Anglican priest. She was born in Hong Kong, and was ordained in Guandong province in unoccupied China on January 25, 1944, on account of a severe shortage of priests due to World War II. When the war ended, she was forced to relinquish her priesthood, yet she was reinstated as a priest later in 1971 in Hong Kong. "When Hong Kong ordained two further women priests in 1971 (Joyce Bennett and Jane Hwang), Florence Li Tim-Oi was officially recognised as a priest by the diocese."[234] She later moved to Toronto, Canada, and assisted as a priest there from 1983 onwards.
    • 1947:
      • The Lutheran Protestant Church started to ordain women as priests.[235]
      • The Czechoslovak Hussite Church started to ordain women.[196]
    • 1948: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark started to ordain women.[196]
    • 1949:
    • 1950: In August 1950, amidst the success of Tech, but disapproval of the way Scientology was managed.[237]
    • 1951: From 1951 until 1953, Paula Ackerman served as Temple Beth Israel’s spiritual leader. In so doing, she achieved the distinction of becoming the first woman to assume spiritual leadership of a mainstream American Jewish congregation, although she was never ordained.[241]
    • 1952: Queen Elizabeth II became the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.[242][243]
    • 1956:
      • Maud K. Jensen was the first woman to receive full clergy rights and conference membership (in her case, in the Central Pennsylvania Conference) in the Methodist Church.[113]
      • The Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained its first female minister, Margaret Towner.[244]
    • 1957: In 1957 the Unity Synod of the Moravian Church declared of women's ordination "in principle such ordination is permissible" and that each province is at liberty to "take such steps as seem essential for the maintenance of the ministry of the Word and Sacraments;" however, while this was approved by the Unity Synod in 1957, the Northern Province of the Moravian Church did not approve women for ordination until 1970 at the Provincial Synod, and it was not until 1975 that the Revd Mary Matz became the first female minister within the Moravian Church.[245]
    • 1958:
      • Women ministers in the Church of the Brethren were given full ordination with the same status as men.[246]
      • The Church of Sweden became the first Lutheran church to ordain female pastors in 1958.
    • 1959: The Reverend Gusta A. Robinette, a missionary, was ordained in the Sumatra (Indonesia) Conference soon after The Methodist Church granted full clergy rights to women in 1956. She was appointed District Superintendent of the Medan Chinese District in Indonesia becoming the first female district superintendent in the Methodist Church.[200]
    • 1960: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden started ordaining women.[196]
    • 1964: Addie Davis became the first Southern Baptist woman to be ordained.[247] However, the Southern Baptist Convention stopped ordaining women in 2000, although existing female pastors are allowed to continue their jobs.[196]
    • 1965: Rachel Henderlite became the first woman ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the United States; she was ordained by the Hanover Presbytery in Virginia.[248][249]
    • 1966: Woman elders were introduced in 1966 in the Church of Scotland.
    • 1967:
      • The Presbyterian Church in Canada started ordaining women.[246]
      • Margaret Henrichsen became the first American female district superintendent in the Methodist Church.[200]
    • 1968: Women ministers were introduced in the Church of Scotland in 1968.
    • 1969: The common identification of [250] Elsewhere it said of the Roman liturgy of 22 July that "it will make mention neither of Mary of Bethany nor of the sinful woman of Luke 7:36–50, but only of Mary Magdalene, the first person to whom Christ appeared after his resurrection".[251]
    • 1970:
      • The Northern Province of the Moravian Church approved women for ordination in 1970 at the Provincial Synod, but it was not until 1975 that the Revd Mary Matz became the first female minister within the Moravian Church.[245]
      • On September 27, 1970, St. Teresa of Avila was proclaimed the first female Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.[252]
      • In 1970 Ludmila Javorova attempted ordination as a Catholic priest in Czechoslovakia by a friend of her family, Bishop Felix Davidek (1921–88), himself clandestinely consecrated, due to the shortage of priests caused by communist persecution; however, an official Vatican statement in February 2000 declared the ordinations invalid while recognizing the severe circumstances under which they occurred.[138]
      • On November 22, 1970, Elizabeth Alvina Platz became the first woman ordained by the Lutheran Church in America, and as such was the first woman ordained by any Lutheran denomination in America.[253] The first woman ordained by the American Lutheran Church, Barbara Andrews, was ordained in December 1970.[254] On January 1, 1988 the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches merged to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which continues to ordain women.[255] (The first woman ordained by the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, Janith Otte, was ordained in 1977.[256])
    • 1971:
      • Venerable Voramai, also called Ta Tao Fa Tzu, became the first fully ordained Thai woman in the Mahayana lineage in Taiwan and turned her family home into a monastery.[51][52]
      • Joyce Bennett and Jane Hwang were the first regularly ordained priests in the Anglican Church in Hong Kong.[196]
    • 1972:
      • Freda Smith became the first female minister to be ordained by the Metropolitan Community Church.[257]
      • Sally Priesand became America's first female rabbi ordained by a rabbinical seminary, and the second formally ordained female rabbi in Jewish history, after Regina Jonas.[258][259]
    • 1973: Emma Sommers Richards became the first Mennonite woman to be ordained as a pastor of a Mennonite congregation (Lombard Mennonite Church in Illinois).[260]
    • 1974:
      • The Methodist Church in the United Kingdom started to ordain women again (after a lapse of ordinations).
      • Sandy Eisenberg Sasso became the first female rabbi to be ordained in Reconstructionist Judaism.[261]
      • On July 29, 1974, Bishops Daniel Corrigan, Robert L. DeWitt, and Edward R. Welles of the US Episcopal Church, with Bishop Antonio Ramos of Costa Rica, ordained eleven women as priests in a ceremony that was widely considered "irregular" because the women lacked "recommendation from the standing committee," a canonical prerequisite for ordination.[76] The "Philadelphia Eleven", as they became known, were Merrill Bittner, Alison Cheek, Alla Bozarth (Campell), Emily C. Hewitt, Carter Heyward, Suzanne R. Hiatt (d. 2002), Marie Moorefield, Jeannette Piccard (d. 1981), Betty Bone Schiess, Katrina Welles Swanson (d. 2006), and Nancy Hatch Wittig.[76]
    • 1975:
      • The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia decided to ordain women as pastors, although since 1993, under the leadership of Archbishop Janis Vanags, it no longer does so.
      • Dorothea W. Harvey became the first woman to be ordained by the Swedenborgian Church.[262]
      • [174]
      • The Revd Mary Matz became the first female minister in the Moravian Church.[245]
      • Jackie Tabick, born in Dublin, became the first female rabbi ordained in England.[263]
      • The Rt. Rev. George W. Barrett, of the [264][265]
    • 1976:
      • Michal Mendelsohn (born Michal Bernstein) became the first presiding female rabbi in a North American congregation when she was hired by Temple Beth El Shalom in San Jose, California, in 1976.[266][267]
      • The Anglican Church in Canada ordained six female priests.[268]
      • The Revd. Pamela McGee was the first female ordained to the Lutheran ministry in Canada.[196]
      • Karuna Dharma became the first fully ordained female member of the Buddhist monastic community in the U.S.[269]
    • 1977:
      • The Anglican Church in New Zealand ordained five female priests.[196]
      • Pauli Murray became the first African American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1977.[270]
      • The first woman ordained by the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, Janith Otte, was ordained in 1977.[256]
      • On January 1, 1977, Jacqueline Means became the first woman ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church.[271] 11 women were "irregularly" ordained to the priesthood in Philadelphia on July 29, 1974, before church laws were changed to permit women's ordination.[272] They are often called the "Philadelphia 11". Church laws were changed on September 16, 1976.[272]
      • The Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly adopted the Women and Religion Resolution, pledging to challenge sexist language, assumptions, and practices.[273]
    • 1978:
    • 1979:
      • The Reformed Church in America started ordaining women as ministers.[278] Women had been admitted to the offices of deacon and elder in 1972.[196]
      • Linda Joy Holtzman became one of the first women in the United States to serve as the presiding rabbi of a synagogue, when she was hired by Beth Israel Congregation of Chester County, which was then located in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.[279] She had graduated in 1979 from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, yet was hired by Beth Israel despite their being a Conservative congregation.[280] She was thus the first woman to serve as a rabbi for a Conservative congregation, as the Conservative movement did not then ordain women.[281]
      • Earlean Miller became the first African-American woman ordained in the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), the largest of three denominations that later combined to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[282]
    • 1980: Marjorie Matthews, at the age of 64, was the first woman elected as a bishop in the United Methodist Church.[283][284]
    • 1981:
      • Lynn Gottlieb became the first female rabbi to be ordained in the Jewish Renewal movement.[169]
      • Kinneret Shiryon, born in the United States, became the first female rabbi in Israel.[285][286]
      • Ani Pema Chodron is an American woman who was ordained as a bhikkhuni (a fully ordained Buddhist nun) in a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in 1981. Pema Chödrön was the first American woman to be ordained as a Buddhist nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.[35][36]
      • Karen Soria, born and ordained in the United States, became Australia's first female rabbi.[287][288]
    • 1982: Nyambura J. Njoroge became the first female ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.[289]
    • 1983:
      • An Anglican woman was ordained in Kenya.[196]
      • Three Anglican women were ordained in Uganda.[196]
    • 1983: Elyse Goldstein, born in the United States and ordained in 1983, became the first female rabbi in Canada.[290][291][292]
    • 1984:
    • 1985:
      • According to the New York Times for 1985-FEB-14: "After years of debate, the worldwide governing body of Conservative Judaism has decided to admit women as rabbis. The group, the Rabbinical Assembly, plans to announce its decision at a news conference...at the Jewish Theological Seminary...".[196] In 1985 Amy Eilberg became the first female rabbi to be ordained in Conservative Judaism.[295]
      • The first women deacons were ordained by the Scottish Episcopal Church.[196]
      • Judy Harrow became the first member of CoG (Covenant of the Goddess, a Wiccan group) to be legally registered as clergy in New York City in 1985, after a five-year effort requiring the assistance of the New York Civil Liberties Union.[296]
    • 1986: Rabbi Julie Schwartz became the first female Naval chaplain in the U.S.[297]
    • 1987:
    • 1988:
      • The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland started to ordain women.[196]
      • Virginia Nagel was ordained as the first Deaf female priest in the Episcopal Church.[300]
      • Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, an American woman formerly called Catharine Burroughs, became the first Western woman to be named a reincarnate lama.[301]
      • The Episcopal Church elected Barbara Harris as its first female bishop.[302]
    • 1989: [303]
    • 1990:
      • Pauline Bebe became the first female rabbi in France, although she was ordained in England.[304][305]
      • Penny Jamieson became the first female Anglican diocesan bishop in the world. She was ordained a bishop of the Anglican Church in New Zealand in June 1990.[306]
      • Anglican women were ordained in Ireland.[196]
      • Sister Cora Billings was installed as a pastor in Richmond, VA, becoming the first black nun to head a parish in the U.S.[203]
      • The Conservative Judaism, began allowing women to join.[307]
    • 1991:
      • The Presbyterian Church of Australia ceased ordaining women to the ministry in 1991, but the rights of women ordained prior to this time were not affected.
      • The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which supports ordaining women, was founded in 1991.[293]
    • 1992:
      • Naamah Kelman, born in the United States, became the first female rabbi ordained in Israel.[308][309]
      • In March 1992 the first female priests in Australia were appointed; they were priests of the Anglican Church in Australia.[310]
      • Maria Jepsen became the world's first woman to be elected a Lutheran bishop when she was elected bishop of the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, but she resigned in 2010 after allegations that she failed to properly investigate cases of sexual abuse.[311]
      • In November 1992 the General Synod of the Church of England approved the ordination of women as priests.[312]
      • The Anglican Church of South Africa started to ordain women.[196]
      • Rabbi Karen Soria became the first female rabbi to serve in the U.S. Marines, which she did from 1992 until 1996.[313]
    • 1993:
      • Rebecca Dubowe became the first Deaf woman to be ordained as a rabbi in the United States.[314]
      • The Communauté Evangélique Mennonite au Congo (Mennonite Evangelical Community of Congo) voted to ordain women as pastors.[315]
      • [303]
      • Chana Timoner became the first female rabbi to hold an active duty assignment as a chaplain in the U.S. Army.[316]
      • Victoria Matthews was elected as the first female bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada; however she resigned in 2007, stating that "God is now calling me in a different direction".[317] In 2008, she was ordained as Bishop of Christchurch, becoming the first woman to hold that position.[318]
      • Rosemarie Kohn became the first female bishop to be appointed in the Church of Norway.[319][320]
      • Leslie Friedlander became the first female cantor ordained by the Academy for Jewish Religion (New York).[321][322]
      • Maya Leibovich became the first native-born female rabbi in Israel.[323]
      • Ariel Stone, also called C. Ariel Stone, became the first American Reform rabbi to lead a congregation in the former Soviet Union, and the first liberal rabbi in Ukraine.[324][325][326] She worked as a rabbi in Ukraine from 1993 until 1994, leaving her former job at the Temple of Israel in Miami.[324][325][327]
    • 1994:
      • Lia Bass was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, thus becoming the first Latin-American female rabbi in the world as well as the first woman from Brazil to be ordained as a rabbi.[328][329][330][331]
      • The first women priests were ordained by the Scottish Episcopal Church.[196]
      • Rabbi Laura Geller became the first woman to lead a major metropolitan congregation, specifically Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills.[332][333]
      • Indrani Rampersad was ordained as the first female Hindu priest in Trinidad.[334]
      • On March 12, 1994, the Church of England ordained 32 women as its first female priests.[79]
      • Amina Wadud, born in the United States, became the first woman in South Africa to deliver the jum'ah khutbah, at the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town.[154]
    • 1995:
      • The Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Maryland, ordained three women in violation of the denomination's rules - Kendra Haloviak, Norma Osborn, and Penny Shell.[335]
      • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark ordained its first female bishop.[336]
      • Bea Wyler, born in Switzerland, became the second female rabbi in Germany (the first being Regina Jonas),and the first to officiate at a congregation.[337][338]
      • The Christian Reformed Church voted to allow women ministers, elders and evangelists.[196] In 1998, the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) suspended the CRC's membership because of this decision.[196]
      • Lise-Lotte Rebel was elected as the first female bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark.[339]
      • In May 1995, Bola Odeleke was ordained as the first female bishop in Africa. Specifically, she was ordained in Nigeria.[340]
    • 1996:
      • Through the efforts of Sakyadhita, an International Buddhist Women Association, ten Sri Lankan women were ordained as bhikkhunis in Sarnath, India.[341]
      • Subhana Barzagi Roshi became the Diamond Sangha's first female roshi (Zen teacher) when she received transmission on March 9, 1996, in Australia. In the ceremony Subhanna also became the first female roshi in the lineage of Robert Aitken Roshi.[342]
    • 1997:
      • Rosalina Rabaria became the first female priest in the Philippine Independent Church.[343]
      • Christina Odenberg became the first female bishop in the Church of Sweden.[344]
      • Chava Koster, born in the Netherlands and ordained in the United States, became the first female rabbi from the Netherlands.[345]
    • 1998:
      • Nelinda Primavera-Briones was elected as the first female bishop of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).[346]
      • The General Assembly of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church in Japan) started to ordain women.[196]
      • The Guatemalan Presbyterian Synod started to ordain women.[196]
      • The Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands started to ordain women.[196]
      • On July 28, 1998, [349]
      • Some Orthodox Jewish congregations started to employ women as congregational interns, a job created for learned Orthodox Jewish women. Although these interns do not lead worship services, they perform some tasks usually reserved for rabbis, such as preaching, teaching, and consulting on Jewish legal matters. The first woman hired as a congregational intern was Julie Stern Joseph, hired in 1998 by the Lincoln Square Synagogue of the Upper West Side.[350][351]
      • Nelly Shulman, born in Russia and ordained in England, became the first female rabbi from Russia and the first female rabbi in Belarus, serving as the chief reform rabbi of Minsk, Belarus.[56][352]
      • Sherry Chayat, born in Brooklyn, became the first American woman to receive transmission in the Rinzai school of Buddhism.[56][57][58]
      • In 1998 Kay Ward became the first female bishop in the Moravian Church.[245]
      • After 900 years without such ordinations, Sri Lanka again began to ordain women as fully ordained Buddhist nuns, called bhikkhunis.[48]
      • Gail E. Mengel and Linda L. Booth became the first two women apostles in the Community of Christ.[84]
      • The Baptist Faith and Message was amended in 1998 to declare "a wife is to submit herself graciously" to her husband.[293]
    • 1999:
      • The Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil allowed the ordination of women as either clergy or elders.[196]
      • The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) became the first large denomination to have a majority of female ministers. In April 1999, female ministers outnumbered their male counterpart 431 to 422.[196]
      • Beth Lockard was ordained as the first Deaf pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[353][354]
      • The first female bishop of the Czechoslovak-Hussite church, Jana Šilerová, was elected to a 7-year term of office in April 1999.[355]
      • [171]
      • Katalin Kelemen, born in Hungary but ordained at Leo Baeck College in England, was inducted as the rabbi of the Sim Shalom Progressive Jewish Congregation in Budapest, Hungary, thus becoming the first female rabbi in Hungary.[356][357][358][359]
      • [360] became the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a cantor in the world when she was ordained by HUC-JIR, an American seminary for Reform Judaism.[361]
    • 2000:
      • The Baptist Union of Scotland voted to allow their individual churches to make local decisions as to whether to allow or prohibit the ordination of women.[196]
      • The Baptist Faith and Message was amended in 2000 to state, "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."[293]
      • The Mennonite Brethren Church of Congo ordained its first female pastor in 2000.[362]
      • Helga Newmark, born in Germany, became the first female Holocaust survivor ordained as a rabbi. She was ordained in America.[363][364]
      • In July 2000 Vashti McKenzie was elected as the first female bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.[365]
      • The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church (GCEPC) has ordained women since its inception in the year 2000.
      • The Mombasa diocese of the Anglican Church in Kenya began to ordain women.[196]
      • The Church of Pakistan ordained its first female deacons.[196] It is a united church which dates back to the 1970 local merger of Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and other Protestant denominations.[196]
    • 2001:
      • [360] became the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a rabbi in the world; she was ordained by HUC-JIR, an American seminary for Reform Judaism.[361]
      • Eveline Goodman-Thau became the first female rabbi in Austria; she was born in Austria but ordained in Jerusalem.[366]
      • [176]
      • Brigitte Boehme became the first female president of the Evangelical Church of Bremen.
      • The first translation of the Qur'an into English by a woman (and the first bilingual translation of the Qur'an, done in Persian and English) was done in 2001 by an Iranian woman, Tahereh Saffarzadeh.[367][368][369]
    • 2002:
      • Suzan Johnson Cook became the first woman elected president of the Hampton University Ministers' Conference, a conference which represents all of the historically African-American denominations.[370][371]
      • Sharon Hordes became the very first cantor in Reconstructionist Judaism. Therefore, since she was a woman, she became their first female cantor.[177]
      • Rabbi Pamela Frydman became the first female president of OHALAH (Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal)[372]
      • Avitall Gerstetter became the first female cantor in Jewish Renewal and the first female cantor in Germany.[373][374]
      • The [377]
      • Khenmo Drolma, an American woman, became the first Bhikkhuni (fully ordained Buddhist nun) in the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Buddhism, traveling to Taiwan to be ordained.[62]
      • A 55-year-old Buddhist nun, Varanggana Vanavichayen, became the first female monk to be ordained in Thailand. She was ordained by a Sri Lankan woman monk in the presence of a male Thai monk. Theravada scriptures, as interpreted in Thailand, require that for a woman to be ordained as a monk, the ceremony must be attended by both a male and female monk.[378] Some time after this a secular law in Thailand banning women's full ordination in Buddhism which had been passed in 1928 was revoked.
      • Jacqueline Mates-Muchin was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, and thus became the first Chinese-American rabbi.[379][380][381]
    • 2003:
      • Ayya Sudhamma became the first American-born woman to receive bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka.[40]
      • Sarah Schechter became the first female rabbi in the U.S. Air Force.[382][383]
      • [303]
      • Born in Canada and educated in England, Nancy Morris became Scotland's first female rabbi in 2003.[384]
      • Rabbi [385]
      • On February 28, 2003, Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, formerly known as Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, became the first Thai woman to receive full ordination as a Theravada nun.[49] She was ordained in Sri Lanka.[50]
      • Sivan Malkin Maas became the first Israeli to be ordained as a rabbi in Humanistic Judaism; she was ordained by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in 2003.[386][387]
      • Canadian Aviel Barclay became the world's first known traditionally trained female sofer.[388][389]
      • In the summer of 2003, two of the [377]
    • 2004:
      • Khenmo Drolma, an American woman, became the first westerner of either sex to be installed as an abbot in the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Buddhism, being installed as the abbot of the Vajra Dakini Nunnery in Vermont (America's first Tibetan Buddhist nunnery) in 2004.[63]
      • Barbara Aiello, born and ordained in the United States, became the first female rabbi in Italy.[390]
      • In Canada, Yasmin Shadeer led the night 'Isha prayer for a mixed-gender (men as well as women praying and hearing the sermon) congregation.[156] This is the first recorded occasion in modern times where a woman led a congregation in prayer in a mosque.[156]
      • Genevieve Benay (from France), Michele Birch-Conery (from Canada), Astride Indrican (from Latvia), Victoria Rue (from the USA), Jane Via (from the USA), and Monika Wyss (from Switzerland) were ordained as deacons on a ship in the Danube. The women's ordinations were not, however, recognised as being valid by the Roman Catholic Church. As a consequence of this violation of canon law and their refusal to repent, the women were excommunicated. Since then several similar actions have been held by Roman Catholic Womenpriests, a group in favor of women's ordination in Roman Catholicism; this was the first such action for female deacons.[391]
      • Maria Pap was elected to the position of district dean in the Unitarian Church of Transylvania, the highest post ever held by a woman in that Church.[392]
    • 2005:
      • The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church, (LEPC) (GCEPC) in the USA elected Nancy Kinard Drew as its first female Presiding Bishop.
      • Annalu Waller, who had cerebral palsy, was ordained as the first disabled female priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church.[393][394]
      • Floriane Chinsky, born in Paris and ordained in Jerusalem, became Belgium's first female rabbi.[395]
      • In April 2005, [158]
      • On July 1, 2005, Pamela Taylor, a Muslim convert since 1986, became the first woman to lead Friday prayers in a Canadian mosque, and did so for a congregation of both men and women.[159] Pamela Taylor is an American convert to Islam and co-chair of the New York-based Progressive Muslim Union.[159] In addition to leading the prayers, Taylor also gave a sermon on the importance of equality among people regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation and disability.[159]
      • Elisa Klapheck, born in Germany, became the first female rabbi in the Netherlands.[396]
      • On March 18, 2005, an American woman named Amina Wadud (an Islamic studies professor at Virginia Commonwealth University) gave a sermon and led Friday prayers for a Muslim congregation consisting of men as well as women, with no curtain dividing the men and women.[157] Another woman, Suheyla El-Attar, sounded the call to prayer while not wearing a headscarf at that same event.[157] This was done in the Synod House of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York after mosques refused to host the event.[157] This was the first time a woman led a mixed-gender Muslim congregation in prayer in American history.[157]
      • Nancy Wilson was elected Moderator of the international Metropolitan Community Churches, thus making her the second person, and the first woman, to serve in that role since the Metropolitan Community Church’s founding.[397][398]
      • Rola Sleiman became Lebanon's first officially appointed female pastor.[399]
    • 2006:
      • Susan Wehle became the first American female cantor in Jewish Renewal in 2006; however, she died in 2009.[178][400]
      • The Episcopal Church elected Katharine Jefferts Schori as its first female Presiding Bishop, or Primate.[401]
      • Merle Kodo Boyd, born in Texas, became the first African-American woman ever to receive Dharma transmission in Zen Buddhism.[59]
      • For the first time in American history, a Buddhist ordination was held where an American woman (Sister Khanti-Khema) took the Samaneri (novice) vows with an American monk (Bhante Vimalaramsi) presiding. This was done for the Buddhist American Forest Tradition at the Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center in Missouri.[60]
      • The Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church ordained its first six female pastors.[402]
      • Sharon Ballantyne was ordained as the first blind minister in the United Church of Canada.[403]
    • 2007:
      • The Worldwide Church of God, a denomination with about 860 congregations worldwide, decided to allow women to serve as pastors and elders.[196] This decision was reached after several years of study.[196] Debby Bailey became the first female elder in the Worldwide Church of God in 2007.[404]
      • The current Dalai Lama stated that the next Dalai Lama could possibly be a woman, remarking "If a woman reveals herself as more useful the lama could very well be reincarnated in this form".[405]
      • Susan Johnson became the first female national bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.[406]
      • Tanya Segal, born in Russia and ordained in Jerusalem, became the first full-time female rabbi in Poland.[407]
      • Jen Taylor Friedman, a British woman, became the first female sofer to scribe a Sefer Torah.[408]
      • Nerva Cot Aguilera became Latin America's first female bishop, as the bishop of the Episcopal Church of Cuba.[409]
      • The synod of the Christian Reformed Church voted 112-70 to allow any Christian Reformed Church congregation that wishes to do so to ordain women as ministers, elders, deacons and/or ministry associates; since 1995, congregations and regional church bodies called "classes" already had the option of ordaining women, and 26 of the 47 classes had exercised it before the vote in June.[410]
      • Myokei Caine-Barrett, born and ordained in Japan, became the first female Nichiren priest in her affiliated Nichiren Order of North America.[411]
      • Becky L. Savage was ordained as the first woman to serve in the First Presidency of the Community of Christ.[85][86]
      • Laleh Bakhtiar's translation of the Qur'an, first published in 2007 and called The Sublime Quran, was the first translation of the Qur'an by an American woman.[367][412][413][414]
    • 2008:
      • Mildred "Bonnie" Hines was elected as the first female bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.[415]
      • The Revd Joaquina Filipe Nhanala was elected to oversee the Mozambique area for the United Methodist Church, thus becoming the first female United Methodist bishop in Africa.[416]
      • Kay Goldsworthy became the first female bishop of the Anglican Church in Australia.[310]
      • On 17 October 2008, Amina Wadud, born in the United States, became the first woman to lead a mixed-gender congregation in prayer in the United Kingdom when she performed the Friday prayers at Oxford's Wolfson College.[154]
      • After a 10-year process of advanced training culminating in a ceremony called shitsugo (literally "room-name"), Sherry Chayat received the title of roshi and the name Shinge ("Heart/Mind Flowering") from Eido Roshi, which was the first time that this ceremony was held in the United States.[417]
      • Rabbi Julie Schonfeld was named the new executive vice president of the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly, becoming the first female rabbi to serve in the chief executive position of an American rabbinical association.[418]
    • 2009:
      • The first Bhikkhuni ordination in Australia in the Theravada Buddhist tradition was performed in Perth, Australia, on 22 October 2009 at Bodhinyana Monastery. Abbess Vayama together with Venerables Nirodha, Seri, and Hasapanna were ordained as Bhikkhunis by a dual Sangha act of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis in full accordance with the Pali Vinaya.[55]
      • Karen Soria became the first female rabbi in the Canadian Forces; she was assigned to 3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.[419]
      • The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) elected Margot Käßmann as its first female Presiding Bishop, or Primate; she received 132 out of 142 votes. However, she chose to resign in 2010, after she was caught drink driving, although the Council of the EKD judged unanimously that it was not grounds for a resignation.[420]
      • Alysa Stanton, born in Cleveland and ordained by a Reform Jewish seminary in Cincinnati, became the world's first black female rabbi.[421]
      • Lynn Feinberg became the first female rabbi in Norway, where she was born.[422][423]
      • The Revd Jana Jeruma-Grinberga became Britain's first female bishop in a mainstream British church, the Lutheran Church in Great Britain.[424]
      • Tannoz Bahremand Foruzanfar, who was born in Iran, became the first Persian woman to be ordained as a cantor in the United States.[425][426]
      • Ilse Junkermann became the first female bishop of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany.[427]
      • Guillermina Chaparro became the first female president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Venezuela.[427]
      • Wu Chengzhen became the first female Fangzhang (meaning principal abbot) in Taoism's 1,800-year history after being enthroned at Changchun Temple in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, in China.[185] Fangzhang is the highest position in a Taoist temple.[185]
      • Eva Brunne became the bishop of Stokholm and Tuulikki Koivunen Bylund became bishop of Härnösands, in the Church of Sweden.[428][429]
      • On July 19, 2009, 11 women received semicha (ordination) as kohanot from the Kohenet Institute, based at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, becoming their first priestess ordainees.[430]
      • Sheikh Taysir Tamimi appointed the Palestinian territories’ first two female Islamic court judges.[431]
    • 2010:
      • The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland elected Irja Askola of the Diocese of Helsinki as its first female bishop.[432]
      • [174][433]
      • The Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA) approved a document honoring the women ancestors in the Zen tradition at its biannual meeting on October 8, 2010. Female ancestors, dating back 2,500 years from India, China, and Japan, could thus be included in the curriculum, ritual, and training offered to Western Zen students.[434]
      • For the first time in the history of the Church of England, more women than men were ordained as priests (290 women and 273 men).[435]
      • The first American women to be ordained as cantors in Jewish Renewal after Susan Wehle's ordination were [179]
      • The International Rabbinic Fellowship, a fellowship of about 150 Orthodox rabbis, adopted a resolution stating that properly trained Orthodox Jewish women should have the opportunity to serve as "teachers of Torah", "persons who can answer questions and provide guidance to both men and women in all areas of Jewish law in which they are well-versed", "clergy who function as pastoral counselors", "spiritual preachers and guides who teach classes and deliver divrei Torah and derashot, in the synagogue and out, both during the week and on Shabbatot and holidays", "spiritual guides and mentors helping arrange and managing life-cycle events such as weddings, bar- and bat-mitzvah celebrations and funerals, while refraining from engaging in those aspects of these events that Halakha does not allow for women to take part in" and "presidents and full members of the boards of synagogues and other Torah institutions"; the resolution does not, however, mention whether these women should or can be ordained or what titles they can hold.[436]
      • In 2010, at the Orthodox Jewish synagogue Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Lamelle Ryman led a Friday-night service as a cantor would. No other Orthodox synagogue in the U.S. had ever before had a woman lead a Kabbalat Shabbat service, although Orthodox institutions like the Darkhei Noam prayer group in New York and the Shira Hadasha congregation in Jerusalem already did have women leading Kabbalat Shabbat. In addition, there had been a female-led Kabbalat Shabbat in a Washington Heights apartment in Manhattan — most of the worshippers came from the Yeshiva University community — in 1987 that drew little attention or opposition. In any case, Lamelle Ryan was not ordained as a cantor, and as of 2010 Orthodox Judaism does not ordain women as cantors.[437]
      • Alina Treiger, born in Ukraine, became the first female rabbi to be ordained in Germany since World War II (the very first female rabbi ordained in Germany was Regina Jonas, ordained in 1935).[438]
      • The first Sefer Torah scribed by a group of women (six female sofers, who were from Brazil, Canada, Israel, and the United States) was completed; this was known as the Women's Torah Project.[439][440]
      • The first Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in America (Vajra Dakini Nunnery in Vermont), offering novice ordination in the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Buddhism, was officially consecrated.[63]
      • Teresa E. Snorton was elected as the first female bishop in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.[441][442]
      • In Northern California, 4 novice nuns were given the full bhikkhuni ordination in the Thai Therevada tradition, which included the double ordination ceremony. Bhante Gunaratana and other monks and nuns were in attendance. It was the first such ordination ever in the Western hemisphere.[64] The following month, more full ordinations were completed in Southern California, led by Walpola Piyananda and other monks and nuns. The bhikkhunis ordained in Southern California were Lakshapathiye Samadhi (born in Sri Lanka), Cariyapanna, Susila, Sammasati (all three born in Vietnam), and Uttamanyana (born in Myanmar).[65]
      • Raheel Raza, born in Pakistan, became the first Muslim-born woman to lead a mixed-gender British congregation through Friday prayers.[163]
      • Delegates of the Fellowship of the Middle East Evangelical Churches unanimously voted in favor of a statement supporting the ordination of women as pastors, during their Sixth General Assembly. An English translation of the statement reads, "The Sixth General Assembly supports the ordination of the women in our churches in the position of ordained pastor and her partnership with men as an equal partner in decision making. Therefore we call on member churches to take leading steps in this concern."[443]
      • With the October 16, 2010, ordination of Margaret Lee, in the Peoria-based Diocese of Quincy, Illinois, women have been ordained as priests in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States.[444][445]
    • 2011:
      • Kirsten Eistrup, 55, became the first female priest in the Danish Seamen's Church in Singapore. She was also the Lutheran Protestant Church's first female pastor in Asia.[235]
      • Kirsten Fehrs became the first female bishop in the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
      • Annette Kurschus became the first female praeses of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia.
      • Sandra Kviat became the first female rabbi from Denmark; she was ordained in England.[446]
      • Antje Deusel was ordained by Abraham Geiger College, thus becoming the first German-born woman to be ordained as a rabbi in Germany since the Nazi era.[447][448]
      • From October 2010 until spring 2011, Julie Seltzer, one of the female sofers from the Women's Torah Project (see above in 2010), scribed a Sefer Torah as part of an exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. This makes her the first American female sofer to scribe a Sefer Torah; Julie Seltzer was born in Philadelphia and is non-denominationally Jewish.[439][449][450][451]
      • The Tehran Mobeds Anjuman (Anjoman-e-Mobedan) announced that for the first time in the history of Iran and of the Zoroastrian communities worldwide, women had joined the group of mobeds (Zoroastrian priests) in Iran as mobedyars (female Zoroastrian priests); the women hold official certificates and can perform the lower-rung religious functions and can initiate people into the religion.[192]
      • Eva Marie Jansvik became the first female priest in the Norwegian Seamen's Church in Singapore.[452]
      • One third of the Catholic theology professors in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (144 people) signed a declaration calling for women’s ordination and opposing "traditionalism" in the liturgy.[453]
      • Mary Whittaker became the first deaf person to be ordained into the Church of Scotland.[454]
      • The Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf was allowed to ordain women as priests and appoint them to single charge chaplaincies. On June 5, 2011, Catherine Dawkins was ordained by the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, the Right Revd Michael Lewis, during a ceremony at St Christopher's Cathedral, Manama. This makes her the first female priest in the Middle East.[455][456]
      • Stella Bentsi-Enchil, Alberta Kennies Addo and Susanna C. Naana Ackun were ordained as the first female priests of the Anglican Church of Ghana.[457]
      • The Evangelical Presbyterian Church's 31st General Assembly voted to allow congregations to call women to ordained ministry, even if their presbytery (governing body) objects for theological or doctrinal reasons. Such congregations will be allowed to leave the objecting presbytery (such as the Central South, which includes Memphis) and join an adjacent one that permits the ordination of women.[458]
      • The American Catholic Church in the United States, ACCUS, ordained their first woman priest, Kathleen Maria MacPherson, on June 12, 2011. She is now the pastor of the St. Oscar Romero Pastoral and Outreach Center in El Paso, Texas / Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.[459]
      • In April 2011, the Institute for Buddhist Dialectical Studies (IBD) in Dharamsala, India, conferred the degree of geshe (a Tibetan Buddhist academic degree for monks and nuns) to Venerable Kelsang Wangmo, a German nun, thus making her the world's first female geshe.[460][460][461]
    • 2012:
      • Ilana Mills was ordained, thus making her, Jordana Chernow-Reader, and Mari Chernow the first three female siblings in America to become rabbis.[462]
      • Miri Gold, born in the United States, became the first non-Orthodox rabbi (and the first female rabbi) to have her salary paid by the Israeli government.[463]
      • Ephraim Mirvis appointed Lauren Levin as Britain’s first Orthodox female halakhic adviser, at Finchley Synagogue in London.[464]
      • Alona Lisitsa became the first female rabbi in Israel to join a religious council.[465]
      • Jo Henderson became the first Anglican priest to be ordained in the United Arab Emirates.[466]
      • Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir became the first female Bishop of Iceland.[467][468][469]
      • Eileen Harrop became the first woman from South East Asia (specifically, Singapore) to be ordained by the Church of England.[470]
      • Amel Manyon became the first South Sudanese woman to be ordained in the Uniting Church in Australia.[471]
      • The Revd Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa became the bishop-elect of Swaziland and the first woman bishop in any of the 12 Anglican Provinces in Africa.[472] She was consecrated as a bishop in November 2012.[473]
      • Pérsida Gudiel became the first woman ordained by the Lutheran Church in Guatemala.[474]
      • Mimi Kanku Mukendi became the first female pastor ordained by the Communauté Evangélique Mennonite au Congo (Mennonite Evangelical Community of Congo), although they voted to ordain women as pastors in 1993.[315]
      • The Mennonite Church of Congo approved women’s ordination.[362]
      • Christine Lee was ordained as the Episcopal Church's first female Korean-American priest.[475]
      • Alma Louise De bode-Olton became the first female priest ordained in the Anglican Episcopal Church in Curaçao.[476]
      • The Revd Margaret Brenda Vertue of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa became the bishop-elect in the Cape Town area of False Bay and the second woman bishop in any of the 12 Anglican Provinces in Africa.[477]
      • The Revd Tine Lindhardt became the bishop-elect of Funen and the third female bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark.[478]
      • Karen Kime became the first Indigenous Australian woman archdeacon in the Anglican Church.[479]
      • On April 23, 2012, the North German Union of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted to ordain women as ministers.[142]
      • On July 29, 2012, the Columbia Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted to "authorize ordination without respect to gender."[143]
      • On August 19, 2012 the Pacific Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted to ordain without regard to gender.[144] Both unions began immediately approving ordinations of women.[145]
    • 2013:
      • On May 12, 2013, the Danish Union of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted to treat men and women ministers the same, and to suspend all ordinations until after the topic was considered at the next GC session in 2015.
      • On May 30, 2013 the Netherlands Union of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted to ordain female pastors, recognizing them as equal to their male colleagues.[146] On Sept. 1, 2013, a woman was ordained in the Netherlands Union.[147]
      • Melbourne's vicar-general, the Right Reverend Barbara Darling, became the first female bishop to ordain Anglican clergy in Australia.[480]
      • Kay Goldsworthy became the first female bishop, and the second Anglican woman, to appear on a public nomination list for a synod election in Australia (the Newcastle synod election).[481]
      • Linda L. Booth became the first woman elected to serve as president of the Council of Twelve of the Community of Christ.[87]
      • Lynn Green was elected as the first female general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.[482]
      • The Rev. Marianne Christiansen became the bishop-elect of Haderslev and the fourth female bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark.[483]
      • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S., elected its first female presiding bishop (the Revd Elizabeth Eaton).[484]
      • Helen-Ann Hartley became the first woman ordained in the Church of England to be elected as a diocesan bishop (in the Diocese of Waikato in New Zealand).[485]
      • On September 12, 2013, the Governing Body of the Church in Wales passed a bill to enable women to be ordained as bishops, although none would be ordained for at least a year.[486]
      • The Church of Ireland appointed Pat Storey as the first female bishop in Ireland and the UK.[487] The Church of Ireland has permitted the ordination of women as bishops since 1990.[488]
      • The Church of Sweden elected Antje Jackelen as Sweden's first female archbishop.[489]
      • The Anglican Synod of Ballarat voted to allow the ordination of women as priests.[490]
      • Mary Froiland was elected as the first woman Bishop in the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.[491]
      • On September 22, 2013, Congregation Beth Elohim of New York dedicated a new Torah, which members of Beth Elohim said was the first Torah in New York City to be scribed by a woman.[492] The Torah was scribed by Linda Coppleson.[493]
      • The first class of female halachic advisers trained to practice in the US graduated; they graduated from the North American branch of Nishmat’s yoetzet halacha program in a ceremony at Congregation Sheartith Israel, Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Manhattan.[494]
      • At its meeting on February 7, 2013, the House of Bishops of the Church of England decided that eight senior women clergy, elected regionally, would participate in all meetings of the house until such time as there were six female bishops to sit as of right.[495]
      • On October 27, 2013, Sandra Roberts became the first woman to lead a Seventh-day Adventist conference when she was elected as president of the Southeastern California Conference.[149] However, the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist church did not recognize this because presidents of conferences must be ordained pastors and the worldwide church did not recognize the ordination of women.[149]
      • Agnes Abuom of Nairobi, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, was elected as moderator of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches; she is the first woman and the first African to hold this position.[496]
      • Dr. Sarah Macneil was appointed as the first female diocesan bishop in Australia.[497]
      • Jean A. Stevens became the first woman to pray in an LDS Church general conference session.[498][499][500]
      • Yeshivat Maharat, located in the United States, became the first Orthodox Jewish institution to consecrate female clergy. The graduates of Yeshivat Maharat do not call themselves "rabbis." The title they are given is "maharat."[501]
      • Tibetan women were able to take the geshe exams for the first time.[502] Geshe is a Tibetan Buddhist academic degree for monks and nuns.
    • 2014:
      • Fanny Sohet Belanger, born in France, was ordained in America and thus became the first French female priest in the Episcopal Church.[503]
      • Dr. Sarah Macneil was consecrated and installed as the first female diocesan bishop in Australia (for the Diocese of Grafton in New South Wales).[504]
      • The Lutheran Church in Chile ordained Rev. Hanna Schramm, born in Germany, as its first female pastor.[505]
      • The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland elected the Rev. Canon Heather Cook as its first female bishop.[506]
      • The Bishop of Basel, Felix Gmür, allowed the Basel Catholic church corporations, which are officially only responsible for church finances, to formulate an initiative appealing for equality between men and women in ordination to the priesthood.[507]
      • The Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland stated that the Catholic church must ordain women and allow priests to marry in order to survive.[508]
      • American rabbi Deborah Waxman was inaugurated as the president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities on October 26, 2014.[509] As the president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, she is believed to be the first woman and first lesbian to lead a Jewish congregational union, and the first female rabbi and first lesbian to lead a Jewish seminary; the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College is both a congregational union and a seminary.[510][511]
      • The first ever book of halachic decisions written by women who were ordained to serve as poskim (Idit Bartov and Anat Novoselsky) was published.[512] The women were ordained by the municipal chief rabbi of Efrat, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, after completing Midreshet Lindenbaum women’s college’s five-year ordination course in advanced studies in Jewish law, as well as passing examinations equivalent to the rabbinate’s requirement for men.[512]
      • Angeline Franciscan Sister Mary Melone was appointed as the first female rector of a pontifical university in Rome; specifically, the Pontifical Antonianum University.[513]
      • The General Synod of the Church of England voted to allow for the ordination of women as bishops.[514]
      • Bishop Gayle Harris of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts became the first female Anglican bishop to preside and preach in a Welsh cathedral.[515]
      • The [516]
      • Sr. Luzia Premoli, superior general of the Combonian Missionary Sisters, was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, thus becoming the first woman to be appointed a member of a Vatican congregation (which is one of the higher ranking departments of the Roman Curia.) [517]
      • It was announced that Lauma Lagzdins Zusevics, an American, was the first woman elected Archbishop of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad.[277][518]
    • 2015:
      • The Church of England ordained Libby Lane as its first female bishop.[78]
      • The Women's Mosque of America, which claims to be America's first female-only mosque, opened in Los Angeles.[519][520]
      • Jennie Rosenfeld became the first female Orthodox spiritual advisor in Israel (specifically, she became the spiritual advisor, also called manhiga ruchanit, for the community of Efrat.)[521]
      • Archbishop Antje Jackelen became the first female archbishop to be welcomed at the Vatican.[522]
      • The first bhikkhuni ordination in Germany, the Theravada bhikkhuni ordination of German nun Samaneri Dhira, occurred on June 21, 2015 at Anenja Vihara.[66]
      • The first Theravada ordination of bhikkhunis in Indonesia after more than a thousand years occurred at Wisma Kusalayani in Lembang, Bandung.[67] Those ordained included Vajiradevi Sadhika Bhikkhuni from Indonesia, Medha Bhikkhuni from Sri Lanka, Anula Bhikkhuni from Japan, Santasukha Santamana Bhikkhuni from Vietnam, Sukhi Bhikkhuni and Sumangala Bhikkhuni from Malaysia, and Jenti Bhikkhuni from Australia.[67]
      • In the GC session in Dallas on Jul. 9, 2015, Seventh-day Adventists voted not to allow their regional church bodies to ordain women pastors.[151]
      • Rachel Treweek was consecrated as the first female diocesan bishop in the Church of England (Diocese of Gloucester).[80] She and Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton, were the first women to be consecrated and ordained bishop in Canterbury Cathedral.[80]
      • [524][523]
      • Tahrir Hammad became the first woman to be permitted to perform Muslim marriages in the Palestinian territories.[431]
      • Mary Irwin-Gibson became the first female bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal.[525]
      • Rev Dame Sarah Mullally became the first female bishop in the Church of England to lead an ordination service; she ordained Leisa McGovern and Sheila Walker on September 26, in Ottery St Mary in Devon.[526]
      • Rachel Treweek became the first female bishop in the House of Lords, thus making her at the time the most senior female bishop in the Church of England.[81]
      • The Rabbinical Council of America passed a resolution which states, "RCA members with positions in Orthodox institutions may not ordain women into the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title used; or hire or ratify the hiring of a woman into a rabbinic position at an Orthodox institution; or allow a title implying rabbinic ordination to be used by a teacher of Limudei Kodesh in an Orthodox institution."[527]

    See also

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  • ^ a b Jeremy Black (1998), Reading Sumerian Poetry, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-485-93003-X. pp 142. Reading Sumerian poetry (pg. 142)
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  • ^ a b Blue Letter Bible, (Strong's H2181)qĕdeshahLexicon results for , incorporating Strong's Concordance (1890) and Gesenius's Lexicon (1857).
  • ^ a b Also transliterated qĕdeshah, qedeshah, qědēšā ,qedashah, kadeshah, kadesha, qedesha, kdesha.
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  • ^ a b Hendrik H.J. Brouwer, Bona Dea: The Sources and a Description of the Cult (Brill, 1989), pp. 371, 377. One title for a sacerdos of the Bona Dea was damiatrix, presumably from Damia, one of the names of Demeter and associated also with the Bona Dea.
  • ^ a b CIL II. 2416: Isidi Aug(ustae) sacrum/ Lucretia Fida sacerd(os) perp(etua)/ Rom(ae) et Aug(usti)/ conventu{u}s Bracar(a)aug(ustani) d(edit) ("Lucretia Fida, the priest-for-life of Roma and Augustus, from Conventus Bracarensis, Braga, has given a sacrum to Isis Augusta"), from the D. Diogo de Sousa Museum, Braga, Portugal.
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  • ^ a b "Letting All Men See Jehovah’s Victory Processions", The Watchtower, July 1, 1968, page 413
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  • ^ a b Consider Richard Clark Kroeger and Catherine Clark Kroeger, "I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence." Grand Rapids Michigan: Baker Books, 1992.
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  • ^ a b Codex Iruis Canonici canon 1024, c.f. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1577
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  • ^ a b Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Response to a Dubium concerning the teaching contained in the Apostolic Letter 'Ordinatio Sacerdotalis'": AAS 87 (1995), 1114. In English and In Latin
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  • ^ a b Adventist Review Online | Delegates Vote ‘No’ on Issue of Women’s Ordination. Adventistreview.org (2015-07-08). Retrieved on 2015-07-23.
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  • ^ a b c d Delegates Vote ‘No’ on Issue of Women’s Ordination: Adventist News Network. News.adventist.org (2015-07-08). Retrieved on 2015-07-23.
  • ^ a b c Women imams of China at guardian.co.uk
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  • ^ Women, the Church and Ministry: Celebrating 100 years of women’s ordination in the UK.
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  • ^ American Reform responsa By Central Conference of American Rabbis, Walter Jacob (pg. 25)
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  • ^ a b Breaking News - Singapore | The Straits Times
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  • ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 131
  • ^ Calendarium Romanum (1969), p. 98
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  • ^ a b Encyclopedia of women and religion in North America, Volume 1 By Rosemary Skinner Keller, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Marie Cantlon (pg. 317)
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  • ^ Touring Swedish America: where to go and what to see By Alan H. Winquist, Jessica Rousselow-Winquist (pg. 119)
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  • ^ Certificates for Graduates of the Life Texts - Talmudic Bibliotherapy Program Presented at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Ordination and Academic Convocation
  • ^ The Women's Haftarah Commentary (pg. 493)
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  • ^ Nyambura Njoroge is a 2009 Distinguished Alum
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  • ^ New Jewish feminism: probing the past, forging the future By Elyse Goldstein (pg. 197)
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  • ^ Resurgence of Jewish life in Germany By Charlotte Kahn (pg. 154)
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  • ^ Subhana Barzaghi Roshi Archived April 2, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
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  • ^ Saffarzadeh Commemoration Due Iran Daily, October 18, 2010
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  • ^ Sharon Ballantyne, the first blind minister in the United Church of Canada, doesn't know how to give up
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  • ^ The Beverly Hills Courier May 2009
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  • ^ [2] Archived June 11, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
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  • ^ Rabbinic sisterhood 3 rabbis now in Chernow family
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  • ^ Women bishops at The Irish Times
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  • ^ [3]
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  • ^ [4]
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  • ^ Peggy Fletcher Stack, "First prayer by woman offered at Mormon conference", The Salt Lake Tribune, 2013-04-06.
  • ^ David Kelly, "In rare event, woman leads prayer at major Mormon conference", Los Angeles Times, 2013-04-06.
  • ^ Doug Barry, "Woman Leads Mormons in Prayer for the First Time in Forever", Jezebel, 2013-04-06.
  • ^ "Jewish Daily Forward Podcast." Female Orthodox Leaders: New and Old. 21 June 2013. The Jewish Daily Forward. Web. 23 June 2013.
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  • Further reading

    • Canon Law Society of America. The Canonical Implications of Ordaining Women to the Permanent Diaconate, 1995. ISBN 0-943616-71-9.
    • Davies, J. G. "Deacons, Deaconesses, and Minor Orders in the Patristic Period," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 1963, v. 14, p. 1-23.
    • Elsen, Ute E. Women Officeholders in Early Christianity: Epigraphical and Literary Studies, Liturgical Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8146-5950-0.
    • Grudem, Wayne. Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of Over 100 Disputed Questions, Multnomah Press, 2004. 1-57673-840-X.
    • Gryson, Roger. The Ministry of Women in the Early Church, Liturgical Press, 1976. ISBN 0-8146-0899-X. Translation of: Le ministère des femmes dans l'Église ancienne, J. Duculot, 1972.
    • LaPorte, Jean. The Role of Women in Early Christianity, Edwin Mellen Press, 1982. ISBN 0-88946-549-5.
    • Madigan, Kevin, and Carolyn Osiek. Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8018-7932-9.
    • Martimort, Aimé Georges, Deaconesses: An Historical Study, Ignatius Press, 1986, ISBN 0-89870-114-7. Translation of: Les Diaconesses: Essai Historique, Edizioni Liturgiche, 1982.
    • McGrath, Elsie Hainz (Editor), Meehan, Bridget Mary (Editor), and Raming, Ida (Editor). Women Find a Way: The Movement and Stories of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-1-60264-223-2.
    • Miller, Patricia Cox. Women in Early Christianity: Translations from Greek Texts, Catholic University America Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8132-1417-3.
    • Nadell, Pamela. Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women's Ordination, 1889–1985, Beacon Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8070-3649-8.
    • Sered, Susan. Women of the Sacred Groves: Divine Priestesses of Okinawa, Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-19-512486-3.
    • Spaeth, Barbette Stanley. The Roman goddess Ceres, University of Texas Press, 1996.
    • Tisdale, Sallie. Women of the Way: Discovering 2,500 Years of Buddhist Wisdom, HarperOne, 2006. ISBN 978-0-06-059816-7
    • Weaver, Mary Jo. New Catholic Women, Harper and Row, 1985, 1986. ISBN 0-253-20993-5.
    • Wijngaards, John, The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church. Unmasking a Cuckoo's Egg Tradition, Darton, Longman & Todd, 2001. ISBN ISBN 0-232-52420-3; Continuum, New York, 2001. ISBN 0-8264-1339-0.
    • Wijngaards, John. Women Deacons in the Early Church: Historical Texts and Contemporary Debates, Herder & Herder, 2002, 2006. ISBN 0-8245-2393-8.**NO WOMEN IN HOLY ORDERS? The women deacons of the Early Church
    • Winter, Miriam. Out of the Depths: The Story of Ludmila Javorova, Ordained Roman Catholic Priest, Crossroad General Interest, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8245-1889-9.
    • Zagano, Phyllis. Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church, Herder & Herder, 2000. ISBN 978-0-8245-1832-5.
    • Zagano, Phyllis. "Catholic Women Deacons: Present Tense," Worship 77:5 (September 2003) 386–408.

    See also

    References

    Further reading

    • Canon Law Society of America. The Canonical Implications of Ordaining Women to the Permanent Diaconate, 1995. ISBN 0-943616-71-9.
    • Davies, J. G. "Deacons, Deaconesses, and Minor Orders in the Patristic Period," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 1963, v. 14, p. 1-23.
    • Elsen, Ute E. Women Officeholders in Early Christianity: Epigraphical and Literary Studies, Liturgical Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8146-5950-0.
    • Grudem, Wayne. Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of Over 100 Disputed Questions, Multnomah Press, 2004. 1-57673-840-X.
    • Gryson, Roger. The Ministry of Women in the Early Church, Liturgical Press, 1976. ISBN 0-8146-0899-X. Translation of: Le ministère des femmes dans l'Église ancienne, J. Duculot, 1972.
    • LaPorte, Jean. The Role of Women in Early Christianity, Edwin Mellen Press, 1982. ISBN 0-88946-549-5.
    • Madigan, Kevin, and Carolyn Osiek. Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8018-7932-9.
    • Martimort, Aimé Georges, Deaconesses: An Historical Study, Ignatius Press, 1986, ISBN 0-89870-114-7. Translation of: Les Diaconesses: Essai Historique, Edizioni Liturgiche, 1982.
    • McGrath, Elsie Hainz (Editor), Meehan, Bridget Mary (Editor), and Raming, Ida (Editor). Women Find a Way: The Movement and Stories of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-1-60264-223-2.
    • Miller, Patricia Cox. Women in Early Christianity: Translations from Greek Texts, Catholic University America Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8132-1417-3.
    • Nadell, Pamela. Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women's Ordination, 1889–1985, Beacon Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8070-3649-8.
    • Sered, Susan. Women of the Sacred Groves: Divine Priestesses of Okinawa, Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-19-512486-3.
    • Spaeth, Barbette Stanley. The Roman goddess Ceres, University of Texas Press, 1996.
    • Tisdale, Sallie. Women of the Way: Discovering 2,500 Years of Buddhist Wisdom, HarperOne, 2006. ISBN 978-0-06-059816-7
    • Weaver, Mary Jo. New Catholic Women, Harper and Row, 1985, 1986. ISBN 0-253-20993-5.
    • Wijngaards, John, The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church. Unmasking a Cuckoo's Egg Tradition, Darton, Longman & Todd, 2001. ISBN ISBN 0-232-52420-3; Continuum, New York, 2001. ISBN 0-8264-1339-0.
    • Wijngaards, John. Women Deacons in the Early Church: Historical Texts and Contemporary Debates, Herder & Herder, 2002, 2006. ISBN 0-8245-2393-8.**NO WOMEN IN HOLY ORDERS? The women deacons of the Early Church
    • Winter, Miriam. Out of the Depths: The Story of Ludmila Javorova, Ordained Roman Catholic Priest, Crossroad General Interest, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8245-1889-9.
    • Zagano, Phyllis. Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church, Herder & Herder, 2000. ISBN 978-0-8245-1832-5.
    • Zagano, Phyllis. "Catholic Women Deacons: Present Tense," Worship 77:5 (September 2003) 386–408.

This is a timeline of women in religion including important events in the history of women's ordination:[196]

Timeline of women in religion

Zoroastrian priests in India are required to be male.[191] However, women have been ordained in Iran and North America as mobedyars, meaning women mobeds (Zoroastrian priests).[192][193][194] In 2011 the Tehran Mobeds Anjuman (Anjoman-e-Mobedan) announced that for the first time in the history of Iran and of the Zoroastrian communities worldwide, women had joined the group of mobeds (priests) in Iran as mobedyars (women priests); the women hold official certificates and can perform the lower-rung religious functions and can initiate people into the religion.[192]

Zoroastrianism

The Yoruba people of western Nigeria practice an indigenous religion with a religious hierarchy of priests and priestesses that dates to 800-1000 CE. Ifá Oracle priests and priestesses bear the titles Babalawo and Iyanifa respectively.[189] Priests and priestesses of the varied Orisha, when not already bearing the higher ranked oracular titles mentioned above, are referred to as babalorisa when male and iyalorisa when female.[190] Initiates are also given an Orisa or Ifá name that signifies under which deity they are initiated; for example a priestess of Oshun may be named Osunyemi and a priest of Ifá may be named Ifáyemi.

Yeye Siju Osunyemi being initiated as a priestess of the deity Oshun in the Osun Shrine in Osogbo, Nigeria.

Yoruba

There are many different Wiccan traditions. All ordain women as priests (most also ordain men), and some were created by women.[186][187][188]

Wicca

Taoists ordain both men and women as priests.[184] In 2009 Wu Chengzhen became the first female fangzhang (principal abbot) in Taoism's 1,800-year history after being enthroned at Changchun Temple in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, in China.[185] Fangzhang is the highest position in a Taoist temple.[185]

Taoism

Sikhism does not have priests, which were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh, as the guru had seen that institution become corrupt in society during his time. Instead, he appointed the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, as his successor as Guru instead of a possibly fallible human. Due to the faith's belief in complete equality, women can participate in any religious function, perform any Sikh ceremony or lead the congregation in prayer.[182] A Sikh woman has the right to become a Granthi, Ragi, and one of the Panj Piare (5 beloved) and both men and women are considered capable of reaching the highest levels of spirituality.[183]

Sikhism

The ordination of women as Shinto priests arose again after the abolition of State Shinto in the aftermath of World War II.[181] See also Miko.

In Shintoism, Saiin (斎院, saiin?) were unmarried female relatives of the Japanese emperor who served as high priestesses at Ise Grand Shrine from the late 7th century until the 14th century. Ise Grand Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the goddess Amaterasu-ōmikami. Saiin priestesses were usually elected from royalty (内親王, naishinnō) such as princesses (女王, joō). In principle, Saiin remained unmarried, but there were exceptions. Some Saiin became consorts of the Emperor, called Nyōgo in Japanese. According to the Man'yōshū (The Anthology of Ten Thousand Leaves), the first Saiō to serve at Ise Grand Shrine was Princess Oku, daughter of Emperor Temmu, during the Asuka period of Japanese history.

Shinto priest and priestess.

Shinto

The indigenous religion of the Ryukyuan Islands in Japan is led by female priests; this makes it the only known official mainstream religion of a society led by women.[180]

Ryukyuan religion

Only men can become [179]

Only men can become [171] Women in these types of Judaism are routinely granted semicha (meaning ordination) on an equal basis with men.

Rabbi Regina Jonas, the world's first female rabbi, ordained in 1935.[164]

Judaism

In 2014, Afra Jalabi, a Syrian Canadian journalist and peace advocate delivered Eid ul-Adha khutbah at Noor cultural centre in Toronto, Canada.

In 2010, Raheel Raza became the first Muslim-born woman to lead a mixed-gender British congregation through Friday prayers.[163]

On 17 October 2008, Amina Wadud became the first woman to lead a mixed-gender Muslim congregation in prayer in the United Kingdom when she performed the Friday prayers at Oxford's Wolfson College.[162]

In 2008, Pamela Taylor gave the Friday khutbah and led the mixed-gender prayers in Toronto at the UMA mosque at the invitation of the Muslim Canadian Congress on Canada Day.[161]

In October 2005, Amina Wadud led a mixed gender Muslim congregational prayer in Barcelona.[160]

On July 1, 2005, Pamela Taylor, a Muslim convert since 1986, became the first woman to lead Friday prayers in a Canadian mosque, and did so for a congregation of both men and women.[159] Pamela Taylor is an American convert to Islam and co-chair of the New York-based Progressive Muslim Union.[159] In addition to leading the prayers, Taylor also gave a sermon on the importance of equality among people regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation and disability.[159]

In April 2005, [158]

On March 18, 2005, Amina Wadud gave a sermon and led Friday prayers for a Muslim congregation consisting of men as well as women, with no curtain dividing the men and women.[157] Another woman, Suheyla El-Attar, sounded the call to prayer while not wearing a headscarf at that same event.[157] This was done in the Synod House of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York after mosques refused to host the event.[157] This was the first known time that a woman had led a mixed-gender Muslim congregation in prayer in American history.[157]

In 2004, in Canada, Yasmin Shadeer led the night 'Isha prayer for a mixed-gender (men as well as women praying and hearing the sermon) congregation.[156] This is the first recorded occasion in modern times where a woman led a congregation in prayer in a mosque.[156]

In 2004 20-year-old Maryam Mirza delivered the second half of the Eid al-Fitr khutbah at the Etobicoke mosque in Toronto, Canada, run by the United Muslim Association.[155]

In 1994, Amina Wadud, (an Islamic studies professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, born in the United States), became the first woman in South Africa to deliver the jum'ah khutbah (Friday sermon), which she did at the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town, South Africa.[154]

Women's mosques, called nusi, and female imams have existed since the 19th century in China and continue today.[153]

Although Muslims do not formally ordain religious leaders, the imam serves as a spiritual leader and religious authority. There is a current controversy among Muslims on the circumstances in which women may act as imams—that is, lead a congregation in salat (prayer). Three of the four Sunni schools, as well as many Shia, agree that a woman may lead a congregation consisting of women alone in prayer, although the Maliki school does not allow this. According to all currently existing traditional schools of Islam, a woman cannot lead a mixed gender congregation in salat (prayer). Some schools make exceptions for Tarawih (optional Ramadan prayers) or for a congregation consisting only of close relatives. Certain medieval scholars—including Al-Tabari (838–932), Abu Thawr (764–854), Al-Muzani (791–878), and Ibn Arabi (1165–1240)—considered the practice permissible at least for optional (nafila) prayers; however, their views are not accepted by any major surviving group. Islamic feminists have begun to protest this.

American imam Amina Wadud

Islam

As Protestant Christians who accept the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice, Seventh-day Adventists are intent on resolving the issue based on Scripture (e.g. 1 Tim. 2:12 and Gal. 3:28).

The vote and discussion, which reflected decades long division, came in a General Conference Session which is held to decide major issues.

The vote at their 60th General Conference Session in San Antonio was influenced by delegates from Africa and South America who often have more conservative views on women's ordination than Adventists in other regions. There were deep discussions prior to the vote which featured dozens of delegates voicing opinions for and against the question: "Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry?"[152]

In the GC session in San Antonio on Jul. 8, 2015,[150] Seventh-day Adventists voted not to allow their regional church bodies to ordain women pastors.[151] The President of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Ted N. C. Wilson, opened the morning session with an appeal for all church members to abide by the vote’s outcome, and underscored both then and after the vote that decisions made by the General Conference in session carry the highest authority in the Adventist Church. By a margin of 1,381-977, with five abstentions, delegates by secret ballot ended a five-year process characterized by vigorous and sometimes acrimonious debate.[152]

On October 27, 2013, Sandra Roberts became the first woman to lead a Seventh-day Adventist conference when she was elected president of the Southeastern California Conference.[149] However, the world Seventh-day Adventist church does not recognize her election.[149]

In 2012-2013 the General Conference established the Theology of Ordination Study Committee, which included representatives from each of its 13 world division biblical research committees, to study the issue and make a recommendation to be voted at the 2015 world GC session.[148]

On April 23, 2012, the North German Union voted to ordain women as ministers,[142] but by late 2013 had not yet ordained a woman. On July 29, 2012, the Columbia Union Conference voted to "authorize ordination without respect to gender."[143] On August 19, 2012 the Pacific Union Conference also voted to ordain without regard to gender.[144] Both unions began immediately approving ordinations of women.[145] By mid-2013, about 25 women had been ordained to the ministry in the Pacific Union Conference, plus several in the Columbia Union. On May 12, 2013, the Danish Union voted to treat men and women ministers the same, and to suspend all ordinations until after the topic is considered at the next GC session in 2015. On May 30, 2013 the Netherlands Union voted to ordain female pastors, recognizing them as equal to their male colleagues.[146] On Sept. 1, 2013, a woman was ordained in the Netherlands Union.[147]

In 1990 the GC session voted against a move to establish a worldwide policy permitting the ordination of women.[140] In 1995 GC delegates voted not to authorize any of the 13 world divisions to establish policies for ordaining women within its territory.[140] In 2011, the North American Division ignored the GC policy and without GC approval, voted to permit women to serve as conference presidents, a position requiring ordination. In early 2012, the GC responded to the NAD action with an analysis of church history and policy, demonstrating that divisions do not have the authority to establish policy different from GC policy.[141] The NAD subsequently rescinded its action. But in their analysis the GC indicated that the "final responsibility and authority" for approving candidates for ordination resides at the union level. This led to decisions by several unions to approve ordinations without regard to gender.

According to its Working Policy the Seventh-day Adventist Church restricts certain positions of service and responsibility to those who have been ordained to the gospel ministry and the General Conference (GC) session, which is the highest decision-making body of the church, has never approved the ordination of women as ministers. Adventists have found no clear mandate or precedent for the practice of ordaining women in Scripture or in the writings of Ellen G. White. In recent years the ordination of women has been the subject of heated debate, especially in North America and Europe. In the Adventist church, candidates for ordination are recommended by local conferences (which usually administer about 50-150 local congregations) and approved by unions (which serve about 6-12 conferences). The church's Fundamental Beliefs and its worldwide practice as set forth in its Church Manual, including the worldwide qualifications for ordination currently restricted to men, can be revised only at the GC session.

Seventh-day Adventist

Various Catholics have written in favor of ordaining women.[133] Dissenting groups advocating women's ordination in opposition to Catholic teaching [134] include Women's Ordination Worldwide, Catholic Women's Ordination,[135] [137] Some cite the alleged ordination of Ludmila Javorová in Communist Czechoslovakia in 1970 by Bishop Felix Davídek (1921–88), himself clandestinely consecrated due to the shortage of priests caused by state persecution, as precedent.[138] The Catholic Church treats attempted ordinations of women as invalid, and automatically excommunicates all participants.[139]

Dissenters

In 2007, the Holy See issued a decree saying that the attempted ordination of women would result in automatic excommunication for the women and bishops ordaining them.[130] In 2010, the Holy See stated that the ordination of women is a "grave delict".[131]

The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, as emphasised by Pope John Paul II in the apostolic letter "Ordinatio sacerdotalis", is "that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgement is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."[124] This teaching is embodied in the current canon law (specifically canon law 1024[125]) and the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, by the canonical statement: "Only a baptized man (in Latin, vir) validly receives sacred ordination."[126] Insofar as priestly and episcopal ordination are concerned, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that this requirement is a matter of divine law; it belongs to the deposit of faith and is unchangeable.[127][128][129]

Roman Catholic

The Protestant denominations that refuse to ordain women often do so on the basis of New Testament scriptures that they interpret as prohibiting women from fulfilling church roles that require ordination[122] An especially important consideration here is the way 1 Timothy 2:12 is translated and interpreted in the New Testament.[122] Debate on how to best interpret the I Timothy verse is intense and ongoing. Arguments regarding context and the Greek words have been used against the literal interpretation of some.[123]

Today, over half of all American Protestant denominations ordain women,[119] but some restrict the official positions a woman can hold. For instance, some ordain women for the military or hospital chaplaincy but prohibit them from serving in congregational roles. Over one-third of all seminary students (and in some seminaries nearly half) are female.[120][121]

In 1918, Alma Bridwell White, head of the Pillar of Fire Church, became the first female bishop in the United States.[117][118]

The Salvation Army has allowed the ordination of women since its beginning, although it was a hotly disputed topic between William and Catherine Booth.[115] The fourth, thirteenth, and nineteenth Generals of the Salvation Army were women.[116]

Meanwhile, women's ministry has been part of Methodist tradition in Britain for over 200 years. In the late 18th century in England, John Wesley allowed for female office-bearers and preachers.[114]

A female Quaker preacher and her congregation.

Traditionally, these roles were male preserves, but over the last century an increasing number of denominations have begun ordaining women. The Church of England appointed female lay readers during the First World War. Later the United Church of Canada in 1936 and the American United Methodist Church in 1956 also began to ordain women.[112][113]

Most Protestant denominations require pastors, ministers, deacons, and elders to be formally ordained. The early Protestant reformer Martin Bucer, for instance, cited Ephesians 4[Eph. 4:11–13] and other Pauline letters in support of this.[110] While the process of ordination varies among the denominations and the specific church office to be held, it may require preparatory training such as seminary or Bible college, election by the congregation or appointment by a higher authority, and expectations of a lifestyle that requires a higher standard. For example, the Good News Translation of James 3:1 says, "My friends, not many of you should become teachers. As you know, we teachers will be judged with greater strictness than others.[111]

A key theological doctrine for Reformed and most other Protestants is the priesthood of all believers—a doctrine considered by them so important that it has been dubbed by some as "a clarion truth of Scripture".[109]

Protestant

On October 8, 2004, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece voted to permit the appointment of monastic deaconesses, that is, women to minister and assist at the liturgy within their own monasteries, but it made clear that the rite was a χειροτονία (appointment), not a χειροθεσία (ordination).[107][105][106][108] There is a strong monastic tradition, pursued by both men and women in the Orthodox Church, where monks and nuns lead identical spiritual lives. Unlike Latin Rite Catholic religious life, which has myriad traditions, both contemplative and active (see Benedictine and Cistercian monks, Dominican friars, Franciscan friars, Jesuits), that of Orthodoxy and the Christian East generally has remained exclusively ascetic and monastic, relying principally upon the early Syriac tradition, the Desert Fathers, and the Rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia.

The order of deaconesses seems definitely to have been considered an "ordained" ministry during early centuries in at any rate the Christian East. ... Some Orthodox writers regard deaconesses as having been a "lay" ministry. There are strong reasons for rejecting this view. In the Byzantine rite the liturgical office for the laying-on of hands for the deaconess is exactly parallel to that for the deacon; and so on the principle lex orandi, lex credendi—the Church's worshipping practice is a sure indication of its faith—it follows that the deaconesses receives, as does the deacon, a genuine sacramental ordination: not just a χειροθεσια (chirothesia) but a χειροτονια (chirotonia). However, the ordination of women in the Catholic Church does exist. Although it is not widespread, it is official by the Roman Catholic Church.

Fr. [103] K. K. Fitzgerald has followed and amplified Theodorou's research. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware wrote:[104]

The Orthodox Church follows a line of reasoning similar to that of the Roman Catholic Church with respect to the ordination of bishops and priests, and does not allow women's ordination to those orders.[102]

Orthodox

Of all the churches in the Liberal Catholic movement, only the original church, the Liberal Catholic Church under Bishop Graham Wale, does not ordain women. The position held by the Liberal Catholic Church is that the Church, even if it wanted to ordain women, does not have the authority to do so and that it is not possible for a woman to become a priest even if she went through the ordination ceremony. The reasoning behind this belief is that the female body does not effectively channel the masculine energies of Christ, the true minister of all the sacraments. The priest has to be able to channel Christ's energies to validly confect the sacrament; therefore priests must be male. When discussing the sacrament of Holy Orders in his book Science of the Sacraments, Second Presiding Bishop Leadbeater confirmed that women could not be ordained; he noted that Christ left no indication that women can become priests and that only Christ can change this arrangement.

Liberal Catholic

[101] in March 2013, supports extending priesthood ordinations to women.Kate Kelly (feminist), an activist group of mostly Mormon women founded by Ordain Women Women often offer prayers and deliver sermons during Sunday services. [100] Women thus serve, as do men, in unpaid positions involving teaching, administration, missionary service, humanitarian efforts, and other capacities.[99]

Latter-day Saints

Nevertheless, Witness elders must be male, and only a baptized adult male may perform a Jehovah's Witness baptism, funeral, or wedding.[91] Within the congregation, a female Witness minister may only lead prayer and teaching when there is a special need, and must do so wearing a head covering.[92][93][94]

their branch offices.[90]

Jehovah's Witnesses

The [83] which was one of the reasons for the schism between the Community of Christ and the newly formed Restoration Branches movement, which was largely composed of members of the Community of Christ church (then known as the RLDS church) who refused to accept this development and other doctrinal changes taking place during this same period. For example, the Community of Christ also changed the name of one of its priesthood offices from evangelist-patriarch to evangelist, and its associated sacrament, the patriarchal blessing, to the evangelist's blessing. In 1998, Gail E. Mengel and Linda L. Booth became the first two women apostles in the Community of Christ.[84] At the 2007 World Conference of the church, Becky L. Savage was ordained as the first woman to serve in the First Presidency.[85][86] In 2013, Linda L. Booth became the first woman elected to serve as president of the Council of Twelve.[87]

Community of Christ

On June 18, 2006, the Episcopal Church became the first Anglican province to elect a woman, the Most Rev Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, as Primate (leader of an Anglican province), called the "Presiding Bishop" in the United States.[82]

The first woman to become a bishop in the Anglican Communion was [75][77] and as of 2014, women have served or are serving as bishops in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, South Africa, South India and in the extra provincial Episcopal Church of Cuba. The Church of England ordained Libby Lane as its first female bishop in 2015.[78] It had ordained 32 women as its first female priests in March 1994.[79] In 2015 Rachel Treweek was consecrated as the first female diocesan bishop in the Church of England (Diocese of Gloucester).[80] She and Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton, were the first women to be consecrated and ordained bishop in Canterbury Cathedral.[80]

Reacting to the action of the General Convention, clergy and laypersons opposed to the ordination of women to the priesthood met in convention at the Congress of St. Louis and attempted to formed a rival Anglican church in the US and Canada. Despite the plans for a united North American church, the result was division into several Continuing Anglican churches, which now make up part of the Continuing Anglican movement.

On July 29, 1974, Bishops Daniel Corrigan, Robert L. DeWitt, and Edward R. Welles of the US Episcopal Church, with Bishop Antonio Ramos of Costa Rica, ordained eleven women as priests in a ceremony that was widely considered "irregular" because the women lacked "recommendation from the standing committee," a canonical prerequisite for ordination. The "Philadelphia Eleven", as they became known, were Merrill Bittner, Alison Cheek, Alla Bozarth (Campell), Emily C. Hewitt, Carter Heyward, Suzanne R. Hiatt (d. 2002), Marie Moorefield, Jeannette Piccard (d. 1981), Betty Bone Schiess, Katrina Welles Swanson (d. 2006), and Nancy Hatch Wittig.[76] Initially opposed by the House of Bishops, the ordinations received approval from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in September 1976. This General Convention approved the ordination of women to both the priesthood and the episcopate.

The first three women priests ordained in the Anglican Communion were in the Anglican Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao: Li Tim-Oi in 1944 and Jane Hwang and Joyce Bennett in 1971.

Within [75]

In 1917 the Church of England licensed women as lay readers called bishop's messengers, many of whom ran churches, but did not go as far as to ordain them.

Anglican

Supporters of women's ordination may point to the role of notable female figures in the Bible such as Phoebe, Junia (considered an apostle by Paul) and others in Romans 16:1, the female disciples of Jesus, and the women at the crucifixion who were the first witnesses to the Resurrection of Christ, as supporting evidence of the importance of women as leaders in the Early Church. They may also rely on exegetical interpretations of scriptural language related to gender.[71][73][74]

The ordination of women has once again been a controversial issue in more recent years; while many Christian denominations have responded positively to modern views of gender equality, some traditionalists take a more conservative view and oppose the admission of women into the priesthood. For example, some Anglo-Catholics or Evangelicals, while theologically very different, may share opposition to female ordination.[70] Evangelical Christians who place emphasis on the infallibility of the Bible base their opposition to women's ordination partly upon the writings of the Apostle Paul, such as Ephesians 5:23, 1 Timothy 2:11-15, which appears to demand male leadership in the Church.[71] Traditionalist Roman and orthodox Catholics may allude to Jesus Christ's choice of disciples as evidence of his intention for an exclusively male apostolic succession, as laid down by early Christian writers such as Tertullian and reiterated in the 1976 Vatican Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood.[72]

Supporters of the admission of women to Christian priesthood have argued the existence of documented instances of ordained women in the Early Church, as deacons, priests or bishops.[68] In AD 494 Pope Gelasius I wrote a letter condemning female participation in the celebration of the Eucharist, a role he felt was reserved for men.[69]

In the liturgical traditions of Christianity, including the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism and Anglicanism, the term ordination refers more narrowly to the means by which a person is included in one of the orders of bishops, priests or deacons. This is distinguished from the process of consecration to religious orders, namely nuns and monks, which are open to women and men. Some Protestant denominations understand ordination more generally as the acceptance of a person for pastoral work.

First witness: Mary Magdalene sees the risen Christ
Traditional view: Christ ordains St Peter as head of the Church

Christianity

The first Theravada ordination of bhikkhunis in Indonesia after more than a thousand years occurred in 2015 at Wisma Kusalayani in Lembang, Bandung.[67] Those ordained included Vajiradevi Sadhika Bhikkhuni from Indonesia, Medha Bhikkhuni from Sri Lanka, Anula Bhikkhuni from Japan, Santasukha Santamana Bhikkhuni from Vietnam, Sukhi Bhikkhuni and Sumangala Bhikkhuni from Malaysia, and Jenti Bhikkhuni from Australia.[67]

The first bhikkhuni ordination in Germany, the Theravada bhikkhuni ordination of German nun Samaneri Dhira, occurred on June 21, 2015 at Anenja Vihara.[66]

In 1997 [61] The Vajra Dakini Nunnery does not follow The Eight Garudhammas.[63] Also in 2010, in Northern California, 4 novice nuns were given the full bhikkhuni ordination in the Thai Theravada tradition, which included the double ordination ceremony. Bhante Gunaratana and other monks and nuns were in attendance. It was the first such ordination ever in the Western hemisphere.[64] The following month, more bhikkhuni ordinations were completed in Southern California, led by Walpola Piyananda and other monks and nuns. The bhikkhunis ordained in Southern California were Lakshapathiye Samadhi (born in Sri Lanka), Cariyapanna, Susila, Sammasati (all three born in Vietnam), and Uttamanyana (born in Myanmar).[65]

In 2009 in Australia four women received bhikkhuni ordination as Theravada nuns, the first time such ordination had occurred in Australia.[54] It was performed in Perth, Australia, on 22 October 2009 at Bodhinyana Monastery. Abbess Vayama together with Venerables Nirodha, Seri, and Hasapanna were ordained as Bhikkhunis by a dual Sangha act of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis in full accordance with the Pali Vinaya.[55]

A 55-year-old Thai Buddhist 8-precept white-robed maechee nun, Varanggana Vanavichayen, became the first woman ordained as a monk in Thailand, in 2002.[53] Since then, the Thai Senate has reviewed and revoked the secular law passed in 1928 banning women's full ordination in Buddhism as unconstitutional for being counter to laws protecting freedom of religion. However Thailand's two main Theravada Buddhist orders, the Mahanikaya and Dhammayutika Nikaya, have yet to officially accept fully ordained women into their ranks.

The bhikkhuni ordination of Buddhist nuns has always been practiced in East Asia.[46] In 1996, through the efforts of Sakyadhita, an International Buddhist Women Association, ten Sri Lankan women were ordained as bhikkhunis in Sarnath, India.[47] Also, bhikkhuni ordination of Buddhist nuns began again in Sri Lanka in 1998 after a lapse of 900 years.[48] In 2003 Ayya Sudhamma became the first American-born woman to receive bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka.[40] Furthermore, on February 28, 2003, Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, formerly known as Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, became the first Thai woman to receive bhikkhuni ordination as a Theravada nun (Theravada is a school of Buddhism).[49] Dhammananda Bhikkhuni was ordained in Sri Lanka.[50] Dhammananda Bhikkhuni's mother Venerable Voramai, also called Ta Tao Fa Tzu, had become the first fully ordained Thai woman in the Mahayana lineage in Taiwan in 1971.[51][52]

However, the bhikkhuni ordination once existing in the countries where Theravada is more widespread died out around the 10th century, and novice ordination has also disappeared in those countries. Therefore, women who wish to live as nuns in those countries must do so by taking eight or ten precepts. Neither laywomen nor formally ordained, these women do not receive the recognition, education, financial support or status enjoyed by Buddhist men in their countries. These "precept-holders" live in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, and Thailand. In particular, the governing council of Burmese Buddhism has ruled that there can be no valid ordination of women in modern times, though some Burmese monks disagree. Japan is a special case as, although it has neither the bhikkhuni nor novice ordinations, the precept-holding nuns who live there do enjoy a higher status and better education than their precept-holder sisters elsewhere, and can even become Zen priests.[45] In Tibet there is currently no bhikkhuni ordination, but the Dalai Lama has authorized followers of the Tibetan tradition to be ordained as nuns in traditions that have such ordination.

In the Mahayana tradition during the 13th century, the Japanese Mugai Nyodai became the first female abbess and thus the first ordained female Zen master.[44]

Prajñādhara is the twenty-seventh Indian Patriarch of Zen Buddhism and is believed to have been a woman.[43]

The tradition of the ordained monastic community in Buddhism (the sangha) began with the Buddha, who established an order of monks.[37] According to the scriptures,[38] later, after an initial reluctance, he also established an order of nuns. Fully ordained Buddhist nuns are called bhikkhunis.[39][40] Mahapajapati Gotami, the aunt and foster mother of Buddha, was the first bhikkhuni; she was ordained in the sixth century B.C.E.[41][41][42]

Ani Pema Chodron, an American woman who was ordained as a bhikkhuni (a fully ordained Buddhist nun) in a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in 1981. Pema Chödrön was the first American woman to be ordained as a Buddhist nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.[35][36]

Buddhism

Furthermore, both men and women are Hindu gurus.[33] Shakti Durga, formerly known as Kim Fraser, was Australia's first female guru.[34]

There are two types of Hindu priests, purohits and pujaris. Both women and men are ordained as purohits and pujaris.[30][31] Chanda Vyas, born in Kenya, was Britain's first female Hindu priest.[32]

Ramakrishna Sarada Mission is the modern 21st century monastic order for women. The order was conducted under the guidance of the Ramakrishna monks until 1959, at which time it became entirely independent. It currently has centers in various parts of India, and also in Sydney, Australia.

In 2014 an all-female akhada (group of sadhus) was formed; it is believed to be the first such group in India.[29]

Bhairavi Brahmani is a guru of Sri Ramakrishna. She initiated Ramakrishna into Tantra. Under her guidance, Ramakrishna went through sixty four major tantric sadhanas which were completed in 1863.[28]

King Janaka of Videha is described, she challenged the sage Yajnavalkya with perturbing questions on the atman (soul).[27]

Hinduism

Other religious titles for Roman women include magistra, a high priestess, female expert or teacher; and ministra, a female assistant, particularly one in service to a deity. A magistra or ministra would have been responsible for the regular maintenance of a cult. Epitaphs provide the main evidence for these priesthoods, and the woman is often not identified in terms of her marital status.[16][17]

Under some circumstances, when cults such as mystery religions were introduced to Romans, it was preferred that they be maintained by women. Although it was Roman practice to incorporate other religions instead of trying to eradicate them,[23] the secrecy of some mystery cults was regarded with suspicion. In 189 BCE, the senate attempted to suppress the Bacchanals, claiming the secret rites corrupted morality and were a hotbed of political conspiracy. One provision of the senatorial decree was that only women should serve as priests of the Dionysian religion, perhaps to guard against the politicizing of the cult,[24] since even Roman women who were citizens lacked the right to vote or hold political office. Priestesses of Liber, the Roman god identified with Dionysus, are mentioned by the 1st-century BC scholar Varro, as well as indicated by epigraphic evidence.[16]

From the Mid Republic onward, religious diversity became increasingly characteristic of the city of Rome. Many religions that were not part of Rome's earliest state religion offered leadership roles as priests for women, among them the imported cult of Isis and of the Magna Mater ("Great Mother", or Cybele). An epitaph preserves the title sacerdos maxima for a woman who held the highest priesthood of the Magna Mater's temple near the current site of St. Peter's Basilica.[22] Inscriptions for the Imperial era record priestesses of Juno Populona and of deified women of the Imperial household.[16]

Latin dedication to the goddess Isis Augusta by Lucretia Fida, a sacerdos (priest), from Roman Iberia[21]

The title sacerdos was often specified in relation to a deity or temple,[16][17] such as a sacerdos Cereris or Cerealis, "priestess of Ceres", an office never held by men.[18] Female sacerdotes played a leading role in the sanctuaries of Ceres and Proserpina in Rome and throughout Italy that observed so-called "Greek rite" (ritus graecus). This form of worship had spread from Sicily under Greek influence, and the Aventine cult of Ceres in Rome was headed by male priests.[19] Only women celebrated the rites of the Bona Dea ("Good Goddess"), for whom sacerdotes are recorded.[20]

The Romans also had at least two priesthoods that were each held jointly by a married couple, the rex and regina sacrorum, and the flamen and flaminica Dialis. The regina sacrorum ("queen of the sacred rites") and the flaminica Dialis (high priestess of Jupiter) each had her own distinct duties and presided over public sacrifices, the regina on the first day of every month, and the flaminica every nundinal cycle (the Roman equivalent of a week). The highly public nature of these sacrifices, like the role of the Vestals, indicates that women's religious activities in ancient Rome were not restricted to the private or domestic sphere.[16] So essential was the gender complement to these priesthoods that if the wife died, the husband had to give up his office. This is true of the flaminate, and probably true of the rex and regina.[16]

The Latin word sacerdos, "priest," is the same for both the grammatical genders. In Roman state religion, the priesthood of the Vestals was responsible for the continuance and security of Rome as embodied by the sacred fire that they could not allow to go out. The Vestals were a college of six sacerdotes (plural) devoted to Vesta, goddess of the hearth, both the focus of a private home (domus) and the state hearth that was the center of communal religion. Freed of the usual social obligations to marry and rear children, the Vestals took a vow of chastity in order to devote themselves to the study and correct observance of state rituals that were off-limits to the male colleges of priests.[13] They retained their religious authority until the Christian emperor Gratian confiscated their revenues[14] and his successor Theodosius I closed the Temple of Vesta permanently.[15]

The Virgo Vestalis Maxima, the highest-ranking of the Vestal Virgins
See also Women in ancient Rome: Religious life

Ancient Rome

At several sites women priestesses served as oracles , the most famous of which is the Oracle of Delphi. The priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi was the Pythia, credited throughout the Greco-Roman world for her prophecies, which gave her a prominence unusual for a woman in male-dominated ancient Greece. The Phrygian Sibyl presided over an oracle of Apollo in Anatolian Phrygia. The inspired speech of divining women, however, was interpreted by male priests; a woman might be a mantic (mantis) who became the mouthpiece of a deity through possession, but the "prophecy of interpretation" required specialized knowledge and was considered a rational process suited only to a male '"prophet" (prophētēs).[11][12]

In ancient Greek religion, some important observances, such as the Thesmophoria, were made by women. Priestesses played a major role in the Eleusinian Mysteries. The Gerarai were priestesses of Dionysus who presided over festivals and rituals associated with the god. A body of priestesses might also maintain the cult at a particular holy site, such as the Peleiades at the oracle of Dodona. The Arrephoroi were young girls ages seven to twelve who worked as servants of Athena Polias on the Athenian Acropolis and were charged with conducting unique rituals.

Female figure carrying a torch and piglet to celebrate rites of Demeter and Persephone (from Attica, 140–130 BCE)

Ancient Greece

Ancient Egyptian priestesses:

Later, Divine Adoratrice of Amun was a title created for the chief priestess of Amun. During the first millennium BC, when the holder of this office exercised her largest measure of influence, her position was an important appointment facilitating the transfer of power from one pharaoh to the next, when his daughter was adopted to fill it by the incumbent office holder. The Divine Adoratrice ruled over the extensive temple duties and domains, controlling a significant part of the ancient Egyptian economy.

In Ancient Egyptian religion, God's Wife of Amun was the highest ranking priestess; this title was held by a daughter of the High Priest of Amun, during the reign of Hatshepsut, while the capital of Egypt was in Thebes during the second millennium BC (circa 2160 BC).

Sarcophagus of the Egyptian priestess Iset-en-kheb, 25th26th dynasty (7th–6th century BC)

Ancient Egypt

  • Sumerian and Akkadian EN were top-ranking priestesses distinguished by special ceremonial attire and holding equal status to high priests. They owned property, transacted business, and initiated the hieros gamos ceremony with priests and kings.[3] Enheduanna (2285–2250 BCE), an Akkadian princess, was the first known holder of the title "EN Priestess".[4]
  • Ishtaritu were temple prostitutes who specialized in the arts of dancing, music, and singing and served in the temples of Ishtar.[5]
  • Puabi was a NIN, an Akkadian priestess of Ur in the 26th century BCE.
  • Nadītu served as priestesses in the temples of Inanna in the ancient city of Uruk. They were recruited from the highest families in the land and were supposed to remain childless; they owned property and transacted business.
  • In Sumerian epic texts such as Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, Nu-Gig were priestesses in temples dedicated to Inanna, or may be a reference to the goddess herself.[6]
  • Qadishtu, Hebrew Qedesha (קדשה) or Kedeshah,[7] derived from the root Q-D-Š,[8][9] are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as sacred prostitutes usually associated with the goddess Asherah.
Cylinder seal (c. 2100 BCE) depicting goddesses conducting mortal males through a religious rite

Sumer and Akkad

Antiquity

In some cases women have been permitted to be ordained, but not to hold higher positions, such as (until July 2014) that of bishop in the Church of England.[2] Where laws prohibit sex discrimination in employment, exceptions are often made for clergy (for example, in the United States).

It remains a controversial issue in certain religions or denominations where the ordination, the process by which a person is consecrated and set apart for the administration of various religious rites, or where the role that an ordained person fulfills, has traditionally been restricted to men. That traditional restriction might have been due to cultural prohibition or theological doctrine, or both.

The ordination of women to ministerial or priestly office is a regular practice among some major religious groups of the present time, as it was of several religions of antiquity.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected in 2006 as the first female Presiding Bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church and also the first female primate in the Anglican Communion.[1]

Zoroastrian priests in India are required to be male.[191] However, women have been ordained in Iran and North America as mobedyars, meaning women mobeds (Zoroastrian priests).[192][193][194] In 2011 the Tehran Mobeds Anjuman (Anjoman-e-Mobedan) announced that for the first time in the history of Iran and of the Zoroastrian communities worldwide, women had joined the group of mobeds (priests) in Iran as mobedyars (women priests); the women hold official certificates and can perform the lower-rung religious functions and can initiate people into the religion.[192]

Zoroastrianism

The Yoruba people of western Nigeria practice an indigenous religion with a religious hierarchy of priests and priestesses that dates to 800-1000 CE. Ifá Oracle priests and priestesses bear the titles Babalawo and Iyanifa respectively.[189] Priests and priestesses of the varied Orisha, when not already bearing the higher ranked oracular titles mentioned above, are referred to as babalorisa when male and iyalorisa when female.[190] Initiates are also given an Orisa or Ifá name that signifies under which deity they are initiated; for example a priestess of Oshun may be named Osunyemi and a priest of Ifá may be named Ifáyemi.

Yeye Siju Osunyemi being initiated as a priestess of the deity Oshun in the Osun Shrine in Osogbo, Nigeria.

Yoruba

There are many different Wiccan traditions. All ordain women as priests (most also ordain men), and some were created by women.[186][187][188]

Wicca

Taoists ordain both men and women as priests.[184] In 2009 Wu Chengzhen became the first female fangzhang (principal abbot) in Taoism's 1,800-year history after being enthroned at Changchun Temple in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, in China.[185] Fangzhang is the highest position in a Taoist temple.[185]

Taoism

Sikhism does not have priests, which were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh, as the guru had seen that institution become corrupt in society during his time. Instead, he appointed the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, as his successor as Guru instead of a possibly fallible human. Due to the faith's belief in complete equality, women can participate in any religious function, perform any Sikh ceremony or lead the congregation in prayer.[182] A Sikh woman has the right to become a Granthi, Ragi, and one of the Panj Piare (5 beloved) and both men and women are considered capable of reaching the highest levels of spirituality.[183]

Sikhism

The ordination of women as Shinto priests arose again after the abolition of State Shinto in the aftermath of World War II.[181] See also Miko.

In Shintoism, Saiin (斎院, saiin?) were unmarried female relatives of the Japanese emperor who served as high priestesses at Ise Grand Shrine from the late 7th century until the 14th century. Ise Grand Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the goddess Amaterasu-ōmikami. Saiin priestesses were usually elected from royalty (内親王, naishinnō) such as princesses (女王, joō). In principle, Saiin remained unmarried, but there were exceptions. Some Saiin became consorts of the Emperor, called Nyōgo in Japanese. According to the Man'yōshū (The Anthology of Ten Thousand Leaves), the first Saiō to serve at Ise Grand Shrine was Princess Oku, daughter of Emperor Temmu, during the Asuka period of Japanese history.

Shinto priest and priestess.

Shinto

The indigenous religion of the Ryukyuan Islands in Japan is led by female priests; this makes it the only known official mainstream religion of a society led by women.[180]

Ryukyuan religion

Only men can become [179]

Only men can become [171] Women in these types of Judaism are routinely granted semicha (meaning ordination) on an equal basis with men.

Rabbi Regina Jonas, the world's first female rabbi, ordained in 1935.[164]

Judaism

In 2014, Afra Jalabi, a Syrian Canadian journalist and peace advocate delivered Eid ul-Adha khutbah at Noor cultural centre in Toronto, Canada.

In 2010, Raheel Raza became the first Muslim-born woman to lead a mixed-gender British congregation through Friday prayers.[163]

On 17 October 2008, Amina Wadud became the first woman to lead a mixed-gender Muslim congregation in prayer in the United Kingdom when she performed the Friday prayers at Oxford's Wolfson College.[162]

In 2008, Pamela Taylor gave the Friday khutbah and led the mixed-gender prayers in Toronto at the UMA mosque at the invitation of the Muslim Canadian Congress on Canada Day.[161]

In October 2005, Amina Wadud led a mixed gender Muslim congregational prayer in Barcelona.[160]

On July 1, 2005, Pamela Taylor, a Muslim convert since 1986, became the first woman to lead Friday prayers in a Canadian mosque, and did so for a congregation of both men and women.[159] Pamela Taylor is an American convert to Islam and co-chair of the New York-based Progressive Muslim Union.[159] In addition to leading the prayers, Taylor also gave a sermon on the importance of equality among people regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation and disability.[159]

In April 2005, [158]

On March 18, 2005, Amina Wadud gave a sermon and led Friday prayers for a Muslim congregation consisting of men as well as women, with no curtain dividing the men and women.[157] Another woman, Suheyla El-Attar, sounded the call to prayer while not wearing a headscarf at that same event.[157] This was done in the Synod House of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York after mosques refused to host the event.[157] This was the first known time that a woman had led a mixed-gender Muslim congregation in prayer in American history.[157]

In 2004, in Canada, Yasmin Shadeer led the night 'Isha prayer for a mixed-gender (men as well as women praying and hearing the sermon) congregation.[156] This is the first recorded occasion in modern times where a woman led a congregation in prayer in a mosque.[156]

In 2004 20-year-old Maryam Mirza delivered the second half of the Eid al-Fitr khutbah at the Etobicoke mosque in Toronto, Canada, run by the United Muslim Association.[155]

In 1994, Amina Wadud, (an Islamic studies professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, born in the United States), became the first woman in South Africa to deliver the jum'ah khutbah (Friday sermon), which she did at the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town, South Africa.[154]

Women's mosques, called nusi, and female imams have existed since the 19th century in China and continue today.[153]

Although Muslims do not formally ordain religious leaders, the imam serves as a spiritual leader and religious authority. There is a current controversy among Muslims on the circumstances in which women may act as imams—that is, lead a congregation in salat (prayer). Three of the four Sunni schools, as well as many Shia, agree that a woman may lead a congregation consisting of women alone in prayer, although the Maliki school does not allow this. According to all currently existing traditional schools of Islam, a woman cannot lead a mixed gender congregation in salat (prayer). Some schools make exceptions for Tarawih (optional Ramadan prayers) or for a congregation consisting only of close relatives. Certain medieval scholars—including Al-Tabari (838–932), Abu Thawr (764–854), Al-Muzani (791–878), and Ibn Arabi (1165–1240)—considered the practice permissible at least for optional (nafila) prayers; however, their views are not accepted by any major surviving group. Islamic feminists have begun to protest this.

American imam Amina Wadud

Islam

As Protestant Christians who accept the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice, Seventh-day Adventists have been keen to resolve the issue based on Scripture (e.g. 1 Tim. 2:12 and Gal. 3:28).

The vote and discussion, which reflected decades long differences of opinion, came at a General Conference Session which is held to decide major issues.

Prior to the GC vote, dozens of delegates voiced opinions for and against the question: "After your prayerful study on ordination from the Bible, the writings of Ellen G. White, and the reports of the study commissions; and after your careful consideration of what is best for the church and the fulfillment of its mission, is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry?"[152]

At the 60th General Conference Session in San Antonio on Jul. 8, 2015,[150] Seventh-day Adventists voted not to allow their regional church bodies to ordain women pastors.[151] The President of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Ted N. C. Wilson, opened the morning session with an appeal for all church members to abide by the vote’s outcome, and underscored both then and after the vote that decisions made by the General Conference in session carry the highest authority in the Adventist Church. By a margin of 1,381-977, with five abstentions, delegates by secret ballot ended a five-year study process characterized by open, vigorous and sometimes acrimonious debate.[152]

On October 27, 2013, Sandra Roberts became the first woman to lead a Seventh-day Adventist conference when she was elected president of the Southeastern California Conference.[149] However, the world Seventh-day Adventist church does not recognize her election.[149]

In 2012-2013 the General Conference established the Theology of Ordination Study Committee, which included representatives from each of its 13 world division biblical research committees, to study the issue and make a recommendation to be voted at the 2015 world GC session.[148]

On April 23, 2012, the North German Union voted to ordain women as ministers,[142] but by late 2013 had not yet ordained a woman. On July 29, 2012, the Columbia Union Conference voted to "authorize ordination without respect to gender."[143] On August 19, 2012 the Pacific Union Conference also voted to ordain without regard to gender.[144] Both unions began immediately approving ordinations of women.[145] By mid-2013, about 25 women had been ordained to the ministry in the Pacific Union Conference, plus several in the Columbia Union. On May 12, 2013, the Danish Union voted to treat men and women ministers the same, and to suspend all ordinations until after the topic is considered at the next GC session in 2015. On May 30, 2013 the Netherlands Union voted to ordain female pastors, recognizing them as equal to their male colleagues.[146] On Sept. 1, 2013, a woman was ordained in the Netherlands Union.[147]

In 1990 the GC session voted against a move to establish a worldwide policy permitting the ordination of women.[140] In 1995 GC delegates voted not to authorize any of the 13 world divisions to establish policies for ordaining women within its territory.[140] In 2011, the North American Division ignored the GC policy and without GC approval, voted to permit women to serve as conference presidents, a position requiring ordination. In early 2012, the GC responded to the NAD action with an analysis of church history and policy, demonstrating that divisions do not have the authority to establish policy different from GC policy.[141] The NAD subsequently rescinded its action. But in their analysis the GC indicated that the "final responsibility and authority" for approving candidates for ordination resides at the union level. This led to decisions by several unions to approve ordinations without regard to gender.

According to its Working Policy the Seventh-day Adventist Church restricts certain positions of service and responsibility to those who have been ordained to the gospel ministry and the General Conference (GC) session, which is the highest decision-making body of the church, has never approved the ordination of women as ministers. Adventists have found no clear mandate or precedent for the practice of ordaining women in Scripture or in the writings of Ellen G. White. In recent years the ordination of women has been the subject of heated debate, especially in North America and Europe. In the Adventist church, candidates for ordination are recommended by local conferences (which usually administer about 50-150 local congregations) and approved by unions (which serve about 6-12 conferences). The church's Fundamental Beliefs and its worldwide practice as set forth in its Church Manual, including the worldwide qualifications for ordination currently restricted to men, can be revised only at the GC session.

Seventh-day Adventist

Various Catholics have written in favor of ordaining women.[133] Dissenting groups advocating women's ordination in opposition to Catholic teaching [134] include Women's Ordination Worldwide, Catholic Women's Ordination,[135] [137] Some cite the alleged ordination of Ludmila Javorová in Communist Czechoslovakia in 1970 by Bishop Felix Davídek (1921–88), himself clandestinely consecrated due to the shortage of priests caused by state persecution, as precedent.[138] The Catholic Church treats attempted ordinations of women as invalid, and automatically excommunicates all participants.[139]

Dissenters

Inspired by a mystically inclined nun, Feliksa Kozłowska, it began originally as a movement of renewal in response to the perceived corruption of the Roman Catholic Church in the Russian Partition of XIXth c. Poland. The Mariavites, so named for their devotion to the Virgin Mary, attracted numerous parishes across Mazovia and the region around Łódź and at their height numbered some 300,000 people. Fearing a schism, the established Church authorities asked for intervention from the Vatican. The Mariavites were eventually excommunicated by Papal Bull in 1905 and 1906. Their clergy cut loose from Apostolic succession, found sanctuary with the Old Catholic Church and in 1909, the first Mariavite bishop, Michael Kowalski was consecrated in Utrecht. Twenty years later, the now constituted Mariavite Church was riven by policy differences and a leadership struggle. Notwithstanding, Archbishop Kowalski ordained the first twelve nuns as priests in 1929. He also introduced priestly marriage. The split in the Church took effect, in part over the place of the feminine in theology and the role of women in the life of the Church. By 1935, Kowalski had introduced a "universal priesthood" that extended the priestly office to selected members of the laity. The two Mariavite churches survive to this day. The successors of Kowalski, who are known as the Catholic Mariavite Church based in the town of Felicjanów, in the Płock region of Poland, are headed by a woman bishop, although their numbers are dwarfed by the adherents of the more conventionally patriarchal Mariavites of Płock.[132]

The Mariavite Church

In 2007, the Holy See issued a decree saying that the attempted ordination of women would result in automatic excommunication for the women and bishops ordaining them.[130] In 2010, the Holy See stated that the ordination of women is a "grave delict".[131]

The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, as emphasised by Pope John Paul II in the apostolic letter "Ordinatio sacerdotalis", is "that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgement is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."[124] This teaching is embodied in the current canon law (specifically canon law 1024[125]) and the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, by the canonical statement: "Only a baptized man (in Latin, vir) validly receives sacred ordination."[126] Insofar as priestly and episcopal ordination are concerned, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that this requirement is a matter of divine law; it belongs to the deposit of faith and is unchangeable.[127][128][129]

Roman Catholic

The Protestant denominations that refuse to ordain women often do so on the basis of New Testament scriptures that they interpret as prohibiting women from fulfilling church roles that require ordination[122] An especially important consideration here is the way 1 Timothy 2:12 is translated and interpreted in the New Testament.[122] Debate on how to best interpret the I Timothy verse is intense and ongoing. Arguments regarding context and the Greek words have been used against the literal interpretation of some.[123]

Today, over half of all American Protestant denominations ordain women,[119] but some restrict the official positions a woman can hold. For instance, some ordain women for the military or hospital chaplaincy but prohibit them from serving in congregational roles. Over one-third of all seminary students (and in some seminaries nearly half) are female.[120][121]

In 1918, Alma Bridwell White, head of the Pillar of Fire Church, became the first female bishop in the United States.[117][118]

The Salvation Army has allowed the ordination of women since its beginning, although it was a hotly disputed topic between William and Catherine Booth.[115] The fourth, thirteenth, and nineteenth Generals of the Salvation Army were women.[116]

Meanwhile, women's ministry has been part of Methodist tradition in Britain for over 200 years. In the late 18th century in England, John Wesley allowed for female office-bearers and preachers.[114]

A female Quaker preacher and her congregation.

Traditionally, these roles were male preserves, but over the last century an increasing number of denominations have begun ordaining women. The Church of England appointed female lay readers during the First World War. Later the United Church of Canada in 1936 and the American United Methodist Church in 1956 also began to ordain women.[112][113]

Most Protestant denominations require pastors, ministers, deacons, and elders to be formally ordained. The early Protestant reformer Martin Bucer, for instance, cited Ephesians 4[Eph. 4:11–13] and other Pauline letters in support of this.[110] While the process of ordination varies among the denominations and the specific church office to be held, it may require preparatory training such as seminary or Bible college, election by the congregation or appointment by a higher authority, and expectations of a lifestyle that requires a higher standard. For example, the Good News Translation of James 3:1 says, "My friends, not many of you should become teachers. As you know, we teachers will be judged with greater strictness than others.[111]

A key theological doctrine for Reformed and most other Protestants is the priesthood of all believers—a doctrine considered by them so important that it has been dubbed by some as "a clarion truth of Scripture".[109]

Protestant

On October 8, 2004, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece voted to permit the appointment of monastic deaconesses, that is, women to minister and assist at the liturgy within their own monasteries, but it made clear that the rite was a χειροτονία (appointment), not a χειροθεσία (ordination).[105][106][107][108] There is a strong monastic tradition, pursued by both men and women in the Orthodox Church, where monks and nuns lead identical spiritual lives. Unlike Latin Rite Catholic religious life, which has myriad traditions, both contemplative and active (see Benedictine and Cistercian monks, Dominican friars, Franciscan friars, Jesuits), that of Orthodoxy and the Christian East generally has remained exclusively ascetic and monastic, relying principally upon the early Syriac tradition, the Desert Fathers, and the Rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia.

The order of deaconesses seems definitely to have been considered an "ordained" ministry during early centuries in at any rate the Christian East. ... Some Orthodox writers regard deaconesses as having been a "lay" ministry. There are strong reasons for rejecting this view. In the Byzantine rite the liturgical office for the laying-on of hands for the deaconess is exactly parallel to that for the deacon; and so on the principle lex orandi, lex credendi—the Church's worshipping practice is a sure indication of its faith—it follows that the deaconesses receives, as does the deacon, a genuine sacramental ordination: not just a χειροθεσια (chirothesia) but a χειροτονια (chirotonia). However, the ordination of women in the Catholic Church does exist. Although it is not widespread, it is official by the Roman Catholic Church.

Fr. [103] K. K. Fitzgerald has followed and amplified Theodorou's research. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware wrote:[104]

The Orthodox Church follows a line of reasoning similar to that of the Roman Catholic Church with respect to the ordination of bishops and priests, and does not allow women's ordination to those orders.[102]

Orthodox

Of all the churches in the Liberal Catholic movement, only the original church, the Liberal Catholic Church under Bishop Graham Wale, does not ordain women. The position held by the Liberal Catholic Church is that the Church, even if it wanted to ordain women, does not have the authority to do so and that it is not possible for a woman to become a priest even if she went through the ordination ceremony. The reasoning behind this belief is that the female body does not effectively channel the masculine energies of Christ, the true minister of all the sacraments. The priest has to be able to channel Christ's energies to validly confect the sacrament; therefore priests must be male. When discussing the sacrament of Holy Orders in his book Science of the Sacraments, Second Presiding Bishop Leadbeater confirmed that women could not be ordained; he noted that Christ left no indication that women can become priests and that only Christ can change this arrangement.

Liberal Catholic

[101] in March 2013, supports extending priesthood ordinations to women.Kate Kelly (feminist), an activist group of mostly Mormon women founded by Ordain Women Women often offer prayers and deliver sermons during Sunday services. [100] Women thus serve, as do men, in unpaid positions involving teaching, administration, missionary service, humanitarian efforts, and other capacities.[99]

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