From the Worldwide Faith News archives

First Methodist clergywoman dies at 94

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 15 Oct 1998 14:10:21

Oct. 15, 1998	Contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New York       {594}

By United Methodist News Service

The first woman to receive full clergy rights as an ordained pastor in
the Methodist Church died Oct. 12 in Madison, N.J.

The Rev. Maud Keister Jensen, a longtime missionary to Korea, was
admitted to the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference "on trial" on May
18, 1956, which made her eligible to become a full member after two

The denomination's 1956 General Conference had approved full clergy
rights for qualified women ministers only a short time before Mrs.
Jensen was admitted in Central Pennsylvania. Previously, women could be
ordained as "local preachers" and appointed as "supply preachers" but
were not permitted to be voting members of an annual conference and
could not be assured of pastoral assignments.  

A native of New Cumberland, Pa., Jensen was drawn to missionary work
while a student at Buchnell University in Lewisburg, Pa. After
graduating in 1926, she was sent to Korea by the Methodist Church. She
had met her future husband, A. Kris Jensen, when they were both
missionary candidates, and they married in 1928. The Jensens would
devote the rest of their missionary careers to Korea. 

Mrs. Jensen also earned a bachelor of divinity degree from Drew
Theological School in 1946. She had been ordained a deacon by the
Central Pennsylvania Conference in 1948 and an elder in 1952.

When the Communists invaded Korea in 1950, Mr. Jensen and six other
missionaries were jailed and spent several years as prisoners of war. He
finally was released in May 1953, two months before his and Mrs.
Jensen's 25th wedding anniversary, and he rejoined his family in the
United States.

The experience did not dampen the Jensens' enthusiasm about Korea, and
they returned there late in 1954. Peggy Billings, a former Korea
missionary, remembered that Mr. Jensen was "such an inspiration" to
other missionaries after his return. However, he died unexpectedly on
Nov. 20, 1956.

Mrs. Jensen was honored twice by the Korean government for her
contribution to social welfare work in that country. She continued her
ministry there until her retirement after almost 40 years of service.   

She then returned to Madison, where she received her doctorate from Drew
at the age of 74, along with several awards, including an honorary
doctorate and outstanding alumni award. She was an active member of
Madison United Methodist Church and tended a large rose garden in front
of her house.

She is survived by her son, the Rev. Philip K. Jensen, who retired from
Drew in June; and three grandsons, Kris, Scott and Randy. A daughter,
Clair Lee, died two years ago.

A memorial service is set for Oct. 31 at Madison United Methodist
Church. Mrs. Jensen's ashes will be returned to Korea and buried next to
her husband and daughter at the Foreign Cemetery in Seoul.

United Methodist News Service
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