From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
40th Anniversary of Ordination of Women Celebrated
04 May 1996 16:06:02
96161 40th Anniversary of Ordination of Women Celebrated
by Alexa Smith
ATLANTA--In the midst of a weekend of worship and workshops, the 40-year
anniversary of the ordination of women in the Presbyterian Church was
celebrated by just over 100 clergywomen at the triennial conference of the
National Association of Presbyterian Clergywomen (NAPC).
The conference was marked by a service reaffirming the Presbyterian
ordination vows, which were read by the Rev. Margaret Towner, the first
woman ordained in the former United Presbyterian Church in 1956 by the
Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse.
At the conclusion of the vows, Towner prayed: "Bless these sisters, my
daughters in ministry. ... Peace and blessing be on you all."
The Rev. Diane Tennis of Atlanta called NAPC to a ministry of
subversion, rooting herself in Psalm 137, the complaints of the people of
Israel living in exile in Babylon, still singing songs, telling stories,
"Hymns of praise come hard in a strange land. And I believe we share
a similar problem with these people -- how to be ourselves in alien space,"
she told NAPC, stressing that the Jews subverted the dominant culture by
ignoring its authority -- and kept on singing poetic ballads to God, full
of lament and complaint.
"The essential subversion," Tennis said, "was: Though they were in
captivity, they were not captured."
Tennis told the clergywomen to "turn the world upside down," just as
Mary sang about in the Gospel According to Matthew: to recognize the
hurting underclass in our midst, to abolish ecclesiastical workaholism that
destroys families and homes, and to repoliticize religion so that
exorbitant corporate profits may be shared with the poor, so that the need
for charity is abolished.
And in a dramatic presentation written by the Rev. Bettie Durrah of
Atlanta, at the conference's banquet, clergywomen readers called on "all
our sisters in the faith" to keep coming.
"Keep coming as you serve as role models for women for whom ordination
is now possible in the Presbyterian Church in Korea. Keep coming as you
imagine and reimagine God's will for everyone. Keep coming as you give hope
to the women in the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian. Keep coming as
you open the blinders for the Presbyterians in Guatemala. Keep coming as
you affirm your brothers and sisters in seminaries. ... Keep coming. Keep
sharing. Keep preaching. Keep weaving stories. Keep sharing the good
news. Keep being the good news. Keep breaking the barriers. Keep on being
who you are."
Remembering how the gathered women came to this celebration, the
presentation lifted out the names of Towner, the late Rachel Henderlite,
first clergywomen ordained in the former Presbyterian Church in the United
States (1964); Katie Geneva Cannon, first African-American clergywoman
(1974); Blanqui Ontario-Rivera, first Hispanic-American clergywoman (1975);
Elizabeth Kwon, first Asian-American clergywoman whose ordination was
received by the denomination (1979), though she was ordained in 1944 by the
Uniting Church of Christ in Japan; and Holly Haile-Davis, first Native
American clergywoman (1986)."
Participating in the presentation were the Rev. Ann Clay Adams of
Atlanta; Durrah; the Rev. Jamie Kenyon of Nunda, N.Y., and Towner.
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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