2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women in the ELCA, the 40th anniversary of women of color, and the 10th anniversary of LGBTQ+ siblings.
It’s an incredibly important marker for the ELCA, though it is only the beginning for the Church, as women are still denied ordination across the denominations and hold less than 15% of the leadership positions in the worldwide church! Therefore, in 2020, we in the Oregon Synod will highlight one woman from Christian history every week. Some you may know, others you may not, but all worthy of our respect and gratitude.
#1 Unnamed & Unknown Women Leaders
Before we begin celebrating the contributions of the named women in Christian history, we want to take a moment to acknowledge all the unnamed, unknown women who have testified, preached, healed, labored, taught, guided and loved Christ and the Christian mission from the very beginning. Women followed Jesus during his life, the gospels tell us that women stayed through the agony of the crucifixion and that women were the first to witness the resurrection and therefore, the first to speak about it. The earliest Christian worship services and sacraments were celebrated in the home, the domain of women. The earliest form of communion was the agape feast, cooked by women. There are non-canonical gospels and texts that recognize the role of women, as well as ancient works of art. Ordaining women is not a modern practice placed on an ancient religion, but rather a return to the roots of Christianity and the powerful female leadership which has shaped Christianity from its birth. So from these first female Christian leaders, to the women whose unacknowledged leadership and labor holds up the church today, we offer our gratitude. Though often forgotten, discounted, and overlooked, they too are part of the foundation of the faith upon whose shoulders we stand, and for the depth of their spirituality, courage and perseverance we are forever grateful.