26: Kathy Lee Bates

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 for fifty weeks. Some you may know, others you may not, but all worthy of our respect and gratitude.

#26 Kathy Lee Bates

You know the song America the Beautiful? Did you know the lyrics were written by a lesbian Christian socialist and activist for equal rights? Kathy Lee Bates—a professor, scholar, poet, social reformer, and head of the English Department at Wellesley College—was active in fighting for the rights of women, workers, and immigrants. She lived with her partner and “joy of life,” Katharine Coman, a fellow professor, for 25 years. Bate’s poem, “America the Beautiful” was inspired by a visit to Pike’s Peak in Colorado and first published on July 4, 1895. It is a love poem to the ideals America is built on, and an indictment of America’s failure to meet those ideals. It was put to music to become the song we all know today. Sing it with PRIDE!