The Womens Ordination Movement Theology Religion Essay

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The Womens Ordination Movement Theology Religion Essay

The question of whether or not women should be ordained set apart for religious leadership andor to administrate certain religious rites has been present within Christian and Jewish groups since early in US history Women are regularly ordained within some religious groups Others restrict ordination to men Others continue to debate the question

Though US Protestants did not first ordain women until the 1800s women had for a long time prior to that been religious leaders both in their churches and in the public square Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this is found in the story of Anne Hutchinson who in the 1630s in Massachusetts challenged male authorities by holding meetings with women to discuss her pastors sermons Her actions led to a trial a conviction and banishment to Rhode Island While many women during this era exercised religious leadership it was not until the mid1800s that a woman was formally ordained to Christian leadership Congregationalist Antoinette Brown was ordained in 1853 when she was called to become pastor of a church in New York Unitarian Universalist leader Olympia Brown was ordained about a decade later in 1863 and AME Zion minister Mary Jane Small was ordained in 1898 These ordinations of women and others that followed are indicative of significant changes that occurred in the mid1800s and early 1900s in the roles of women in religious and public life These changes were not without controversy as exemplified by the contentious debates that emerged as some groups supported and others vehemently opposed the ordination of women

The theologies andor polities of some Christian groups and denominations afforded women early access to ordination For example the Quakers insistence that all people are equal before God provided support for those who sought gender equity in churches and society as a result though Quakers did not formally ordain anyone to ministry in favor of recording ministers they did acknowledge women as authoritative preachers The group known as the Shakers that emerged in the 18th century not only sprung up under leadership of a woman Ann Lee but also believed that Jesus would return to earth as a woman Northern Baptists later known as American Baptists likewise demonstrated early support of women as preachers by supporting the ordination of Edith Hill in 1897 setting the stage for a continuation of the practice within that Baptist group Also during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries many Holiness and Pentecostal groups regularly ordained women

In addition to these pioneers in the movement are other traditions including Presbyterians Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ who in the twentieth century engendered and then formalized support for the ordination women These traditions often faced inner conflicts over the question of ordaining women In the late 1960s for example three Lutheran bodies the Lutheran Church in America the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod held a consultation on the ordination of women but were unable to reach a consensus Both the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church eventually approved the ordination of women The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod experienced significant upheaval over the issue and over other issues having to do with scriptural authority and interpretation The conflict resulted in the formation of a new denomination the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America formed in 1987 by a merger of the Lutheran Church in America the American Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church from its inception ordained both women and men The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod continues to limit ordination to men

Other Christian groups for example many Baptists and the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches have consistently opposed the ordination of women Many Baptist groups and congregations also deny women ordination thoug

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