This week in Christian history: ‘Father of Orthodoxy’ dies, Methodists vote to allow female clergy

Methodist Church votes to allow female clergy – May 4, 1956

United Methodist Church 'Uniting Conference'
A communion service being held at the "Uniting Conference" in Dallas, Texas, in 1968. The conference resulted in the creation of The United Methodist Church when the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church agreed to merge. |

This week marks the anniversary of when the Methodist Church voted to allow women to become fully ordained as clergy, doing so at a general conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Women had been serving in limited pastoral roles since Methodism began in the 18th century. However, this marked the first time they had the same official standing as ordained men.

“The 1956 vote to allow women to be ordained opened a door that women have continued to walk through,” wrote historian Connor S. Kenaston in 2015.

“According to statistics published by The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education, ‘the number of clergywomen who serve the church has seen a dramatic increase.’”

When the United Methodist Church was formed in 1968, created by a merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical Brethren Church, the new denomination retained female ordination.  

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