Daily Archives: November 9, 2007


Both complementarianism and egalitarianism have their extremes. After being told that wanting to address the extremes of both sides was a "red herring", I became curious: what are the denominations that first ordained women and what are they doing now?

The list is from Religious Tolerance. I don't like their "theology", but the list is what I was looking for. They're looking to give denominations a pat on the back for breaking the sex barrier, so I'm guessing that it's pretty accurate.

1. The Society of Friends (Quakers) began ordaining women in the early 1800's. Each local congregation is independent, so there is no set policy or unity on the topic...thus, while every congregation does not accept gay/lesbian/transgender as acceptable, the denomination is certainly struggling with the topic.

In Australia:

With this background, Quakers supported the establishment of Queensland’s first openly homosexual organisation, C.A.M.P. Inc., in 1971. In 1975, Quakers officially stated: The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia calls for a change in the laws ... to eliminate discrimination against homosexuals. This statement is made in the light of the Society’s desire to remove discrimination and persecution in the community. The Society also calls on all people to seek more knowledge and understanding of the diversity of human relationships and to affirm the worth of love in all of them. Yearly Meeting 1975, Minute 23

In North America, "Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns":

We seek to know that of God within ourselves and others. We seek to express God's truth in the Quaker and in the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transsexual/transgender communities, as it is made known to us.

It is our hope to offer an oasis to those who have been spurned by the world at large. We are learning that radical inclusion and radical love bring further light to Quaker testimony and life. Our experience with oppression in our own lives leads us to seek ways to bring our witness to bear in the struggles of other oppressed peoples.

In the United Kingdom (via Wiki):

Quakers in the United Kingdom are similarly accepting; one of the first statements in Quakerism regarding homosexuality was the controversial 1963 book Towards a Quaker View of Sex, published by a group of British Quakers, which affirmed that gender or sexual orientation were unimportant in a judgment of an intimate relationship and that the true criterion was the presence of "selfless love." A statement similar to this was later adopted by Britain Yearly Meeting.

There are congregations that don't embrace this extreme end, but my point is that the first denomination to ordain women was one of the first to deal with the gay/lesbian/transgender issue - and they are far from united on it.

2. 1863: Olympia Brown was ordained by the Universalist denomination... In 1961, the Universalists and Unitarians joined to form the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). The UUA became the first large denomination to have a majority of female ministers. In 1999-APR, female ministers outnumbered their male counterpart 431 to 422.

Who is the UUA?


Calls upon the UUA and its member churches, fellowships, and organizations immediately to end all discrimination against homosexuals in employment practices, expending special effort to assist homosexuals to find employment in our midst consistent with their abilities and desires...


Universalists are Christians who believe in universal salvation. They don't believe that a loving God could punish anyone to hell for eternity. Instead, they believe that everyone will be reconciled with God eventually.

Originally, all Unitarians were Christians who didn't believe in the Holy Trinity of God (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). Instead, they believe in the unity, or single aspect, of God.


Another issue which remains at the forefront of the Unitarian Universalist community is marriage equality (i.e. same-sex marriage). Unitarian Universalism fully supports the right of all committed couples to marry. Unitarian Universalist congregations, individuals, and the UUA staff continue to work to have these marriages legally sanctioned in every state.

So...on this list, the second denomination to ordain women has fully embraced the inclusion of the gay/lesbian/transgender population into all aspects of the community.

3. 1865: Salvation Army is founded and has always ordained both men and women.

This is the first organization that has ordained women who does not struggle with the homosexual issue. They offer relief assistance to all, regardless of orientation and/or lifestyle (which is a good thing), but declare the homosexual act and lifestyle to be sin.

4. 1880: Anna Howard Shaw was the first woman ordained in the Methodist Protestant Church, which later merged with other denominations to form the United Methodist Church.

The Methodist Protestant Church is no more; what is the United Methodist Church up to?

The UMC's official position (2004) was that all people are accepted into communion, but that same-sex marriages would not be performed and practicing homosexuals would not ordained.

Also in 2004

SAN FRANCISCO (UMNS) - A complaint has been filed against a United Methodist clergywoman for performing a series of gay wedding ceremonies after City Hall issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples./p>

The Rev. Karen Oliveto conducted seven ceremonies at San Francisco City Hall and an eighth in the sanctuary at Bethany United Methodist Church during the Feb. 15 worship service. Oliveto, Bethany's pastor, said she was acting on requests by the eight gay or lesbian couples after City Hall announced it would issue the marriage licenses. The pastor, who knew all the couples, said she took the requests as "an opportunity to extend pastoral care" to her parishioners.

More recently:

An associate pastor says she disclosed her homosexuality during a recent Sunday morning worship service "to share with the congregation part of my faith journey and how I've experienced God's grace."

The Rev. Kathleen Weber shared her story during the Sept. 30 service at Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church, where she has been on staff the past four years. She is a commissioned candidate for ministry in The United Methodist Church and is on track to be ordained next year.

The fourth denomination to ordain women is far from settled on the homosexual issue - and given that a lesbian is on track to be ordained, it would appear that they are going in the more liberal direction.

This post is already long... 75% of the first four denominations to ordain women are either now dealing with the homosexual issue (or have settled it in favor of ordaining homosexuals into ministry office. 

Is this proof positive?  Not clinical proof, but history does appear to tell us that when an organization starts moving toward liberalism, the trend is to become more liberal, not to swing back.