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Ordination of women

Ordination of women

Encyclopedia
Ordination
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 in general religious usage is the process by which a person is consecrated
Consecration
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups...

 (set apart for the administration of various religious rites). The ordination of women is a regular practice among some major religious groups
Major religious groups
The world's principal religions and spiritual traditions may be classified into a small number of major groups, although this is by no means a uniform practice...

, as it was of several religions of antiquity. It remains a controversial issue in religions or denominations in which the rite of ordination, or the role that an ordained person fulfills, has traditionally been restricted to men, either because of cultural prohibition, theological doctrine, or both.

Sumeria and Akkadia


  • Sumerian
    Sumerian language
    Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

     and Akkadian EN
    EN (cuneiform)
    EN is the Sumerian cuneiform for "lord" or "priest". Originally, it seems to have been used to designate a high priest or priestess of a Sumerian city-state's patron-deity - a position that entailed political power as well. It may also have been the original title of the ruler of Uruk...

    were top-ranking priestesses distinguished by special ceremonial attire and holding equal status to high priests. They owned property, transacted business, and initiated the hieros gamos
    Hieros gamos
    Hieros gamos or Hierogamy refers to a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities. It is the harmonization of opposites...

     ceremony with priests and kings. En-hedu-ana (2,285 BC–2,250 BC), an Akkadian woman, was the first known holder of the title "EN Priestess".
  • Ishtaritu were temple prostitutes who specialized in the arts of dancing, music, and singing and served in the temples of Ishtar
    Ishtar
    Ishtar is the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate north-west Semitic goddess Astarte.-Characteristics:...

    .
  • Puabi
    Puabi
    Puabi , also called Shubad in Sumerian, was an important person in the Sumerian city of Ur, during the First Dynasty of Ur . Commonly labeled as a "queen", her status is somewhat in dispute. Several cylinder seals in her tomb identify her by the title "nin" or "eresh", a Sumerian word which can...

     was a NIN
    NIN (cuneiform)
    The Sumerian word NIN which can denote a "queen" or a "priestess".. Many goddesses are called NIN, such as DNIN.GAL "great lady", DÉ.NIN.GAL "lady of the great temple" or DEREŠ.KI.GAL, DNIN.TI....

    , a Semitic
    Semitic
    In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

     Akkadian priestess in the 26th century BCE.
  • Nadītu
    Naditu
    Nadītu or Naditu is the designation of a legal position for women in Babylonian society and for Sumerian temple slaves. The latter were primarily involved in business activities and were allowed to own property....

    served as priestesses in the temples of Inanna
    Inanna
    Inanna, also spelled Inana is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare....

     in the ancient city of Erech
    Erech
    Erech according to the Book of Genesis, was an ancient city in the land of Shinar, the second city built by king Nimrod....

    . They were recruited from the highest families in the land and were supposed to remain childless; they owned property and transacted business.
  • In Sumerian epic texts such as Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta
    Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta
    Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account, of preserved, early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period ....

    , Nu-Gig were priestesses in temples dedicated to Inanna
    Inanna
    Inanna, also spelled Inana is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare....

    , or may be a reference to the goddess
    Goddess
    A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

     herself.
  • Qedesha
    Qedesha
    A qedesha , Hebrew spelling קדשה, is a temple or sacred prostitute, in several ancient Middle Eastern religions. They are particularly associated with the Goddess Asherah. The male equivalent of a qedesha is a qadesh....

    (קדשה) or Kedeshah, derived from the root Q-D-Š
    Q-D-Š
    Q-D-Š is a common triconsonantal Semitic root form used in various ancient and modern languages since at least the 3rd millennium BCE. The meanings expressed by this root are "Holy", "Sacred", "Divine Power", "To Set Apart", and "Sanctuary"...

    , are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible
    Hebrew Bible
    The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

     as temple prostitutes usually associated with the goddess Asherah
    Asherah
    Asherah , in Semitic mythology, is a Semitic mother goddess, who appears in a number of ancient sources including Akkadian writings by the name of Ashratum/Ashratu and in Hittite as Asherdu or Ashertu or Aserdu or Asertu...

    . Quadishtu were temple prostitutes who served in the temples of the Sumerian goddess Qetesh
    Qetesh
    Qetesh is a Sumerian goddess adopted into Egyptian mythology from the Canaanite religion, popular during the New Kingdom. She was a fertility goddess of sacred ecstasy and sexual pleasure....

    .
  • In the Epic of Gilgamesh
    Epic of Gilgamesh
    Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

    , the priestess Shamhat
    Shamhat
    Shamhat is the name of a female character who appears in Tablets I/and II of the Epic of Gilgamesh-." Shamhat plays the integral role in Tablet I, of taming the wild man Enkidu, who was created by the gods as the rival to the mighty Gilgamesh...

     tamed wild Enkidu
    Enkidu
    Enkidu is a central figure in the Ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. Enkidu was first created by Anu, the sky god, to rid Gilgamesh of his arrogance. In the story he is a wild-man raised by animals and ignorant of human society until he is bedded by Shamhat...

     after "six days and seven nights."

Ancient Egypt



In Ancient Egyptian religion, God's Wife of Amun
God's Wife of Amun
God's Wife of Amun was the highest ranking priestess of the Amun cult, an important Ancient Egyptian religious institution centered in Thebes during the Egyptian 25th and 26th dynasties...

 was the highest ranking priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

ess; this title was held by a daughter of the High Priest
High priest
The term "high priest" usually refers either to an individual who holds the office of ruler-priest, or to one who is the head of a religious caste.-Ancient Egypt:...

 of Amun
Amun
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu , was a god in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt...

, during the reign of Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut also Hatchepsut; meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies;1508–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt...

, while the capital of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 was in Thebes during the second millennium BCE (circa 2160 BCE).

Later, Divine Adoratrice of Amun
Divine Adoratrice of Amun
The Divine Adoratrice of Amun was a second title created for the chief priestess of the ancient Egyptian deity, Amun. During the first millennium BCE, when the holder of this office exercised her largest measure of influence, her position was an important appointment facilitating the transfer of...

 was a title created for the chief priestess of Amun
Amun
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu , was a god in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt...

. During the first millennium BCE, when the holder of this office exercised her largest measure of influence, her position was an important appointment facilitating the transfer of power from one pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 to the next, when his daughter was adopted to fill it by the incumbent office holder. The Divine Adoratrice ruled over the extensive temple duties and domains, controlling a significant part of the ancient Egyptian economy.

Ancient Egyptian priestesses:
  • Gautseshen
    Gautseshen
    Gautseshen was an ancient Egyptian priestess, the singer of Montu. She lived during the reign of the 21st dynasty....

  • Henutmehyt
    Henutmehyt
    Henutmehyt was the name of a Theban priestess, of Ancient Egypt who lived during the 19th Dynasty, around 1250 BC. Her gilded inner coffin can be seen today at the British Museum in London, England. The excessive use of gold, and the high quality and detail of her coffin indicates that Henutmehyt...

  • Henuttawy
    Henuttawy (priestess)
    Henuttawy was an ancient Egyptian high priestess, a God's Wife of Amun during the 21st dynasty.Her father was Pinedjem II, High Priest of Amun, her mother was Isetemkheb D, Singer of Amun. Both her parents were children of the high priest Menkheperre who was brother to Maatkare, the God's Wife...

  • Hui
    Hui (priestess)
    Hui was an ancient Egyptian priestess during the 18th dynasty. She was the mother of Merytre-Hatshepsut, the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Thutmose III....

  • Iset
    Iset (priestess)
    Iset was an ancient Egyptian princess and God's Wife of Amun during the 20th dynasty.Iset was the daughter of Pharaoh Ramesses VI and his Great Royal Wife Nubkhesbed, and a sister to Pharaoh Ramesses VII....

  • Karomama Meritmut
    Karomama Meritmut
    Karomama Meritmut was an ancient Egyptian high priestess, a God's Wife of Amun during the 22nd dynasty.She is possibly identical with Karomama, a daughter of Pharaoh Osorkon II, who was depicted in the sed-hall of the pharaoh. She followed Henuttawy as high priestess. She is depicted in the Karnak...

  • Maatkare Mutemhat
    Maatkare Mutemhat
    Maatkare was an ancient Egyptian high priestess, a God's Wife of Amun during the 21st dynasty.-History:She was the daughter of High Priest of Amun Pinedjem I, who was the de facto ruler of Southern Egypt from 1070 BCE onwards, then proclaimed himself pharaoh in 1054 BCE. Her mother was...

  • Meritamen
    Meritamen (daughter of Thutmose III)
    Meritamen was a princess during the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. She was the daughter of Pharaoh Thutmose III and his Great Royal Wife Merytre-Hatshepsut. She is also called Meritamun.- Biography :...

  • Neferhetepes
    Neferhetepes
    Neferhetepes was an ancient Egyptian princess of the 4th dynasty; a daughter of Pharaoh Djedefre who ruled between his father Khufu and his brother Khafra. Her mother was Hetepheres II.- Biography :...

     is the earliest attested priestess of Hathor
    Hathor
    Hathor , is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt...

    .
  • Neferure
    Neferure
    Neferure was an Egyptian princess of the eighteenth dynasty. She was the daughter of two pharaohs, Hatshepsut and Thutmose II. She served in high offices in the government and the religious administration of Ancient Egypt.-Family:...

  • Tabekenamun
    Tabekenamun
    Tabekenamun was a Nubian queen dated to the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt.Tabekenamun was a daughter of King Piye and may have been a queen consort to her brother Taharqa. She is known from Cairo Statue 49157 from Karnak....

     a priestess of Hathor
    Hathor
    Hathor , is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt...

     as well as a priestess of Neith
    Neith
    In Egyptian mythology, Neith was an early goddess in the Egyptian pantheon. She was the patron deity of Sais, where her cult was centered in the Western Nile Delta of Egypt and attested as early as the First Dynasty...

    .

Ancient Greece



In ancient Greek religion, some important observances, such as the Thesmophoria
Thesmophoria
Thesmophoria was a festival held in Greek cities, in honor of the goddesses Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The name derives from thesmoi, or laws by which men must work the land. The Thesmophoria were the most widespread festivals and the main expression of the cult of Demeter, aside from the...

, were conducted only by women; men were excluded. Priestesses played a major role in the Eleusinian Mysteries
Eleusinian Mysteries
The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance...

. The Gerarai
Gerarai
Gerarai were priestesses of Dionysus in ancient Greek ritual. They presided over sacrifices and participated in the festivals of Theoinia and Iobaccheia that took place during the month of Anthesteria, among other duties. Fourteen in all, they were either sworn in by the Athenian Basilinna or...

 were priestesses of Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

 who presided over festivals and rituals associated with the god. A body of priestesses might also maintain the cult at a particular holy site, such as the Peleiades
Peleiades
Peleiades were the sacred women of Zeus and the Mother Goddess, Dione, at the Oracle at Dodona. Pindar made a reference to the Pleiades as the "peleiades" a flock of doves, but the connection seems witty and poetical, rather than mythic. The chariot of Aphrodite was drawn by a flock of doves,...

 at the oracle of Dodona
Dodona
Dodona in Epirus in northwestern Greece, was an oracle devoted to a Mother Goddess identified at other sites with Rhea or Gaia, but here called Dione, who was joined and partly supplanted in historical times by the Greek god Zeus.The shrine of Dodona was regarded as the oldest Hellenic oracle,...

. The Arrephoroi
Arrephoros
An Arrephoros was a girl acolyte in the cult of Athena Polias on the Athenian Acropolis. They were seven to eleven years old. According to Pausanias, two Arrephoroi lived for a year on the Acropolis and concluded their term with a mystery rite called the Arrhephoria: they carried unknown objects...

 were girls ages seven to eleven who served as acolyte
Acolyte
In many Christian denominations, an acolyte is anyone who performs ceremonial duties such as lighting altar candles. In other Christian Churches, the term is more specifically used for one who wishes to attain clergyhood.-Etymology:...

s of Athena Polias on the Athenian Acropolis and were charged with conducting unique rituals.

Women priestesses served as oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

s at several sites, the most famous of which is the Oracle of Delphi. The priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

 was the Pythia
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

, credited throughout the Greco-Roman world
Greco-Roman world
The Greco-Roman world, Greco-Roman culture, or the term Greco-Roman , when used as an adjective, as understood by modern scholars and writers, refers to those geographical regions and countries that culturally were directly, protractedly and intimately influenced by the language, culture,...

 for her prophecies
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

, which gave her a prominence unusual for a woman in male-dominated ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

. The Phrygian Sibyl
Phrygian Sibyl
In the extended complement of sibyls of the Gothic and Renaissance imagination, the Phrygian Sibyl was the priestess presiding over an Apollonian oracle at Phrygia, a historical kingdom in the west central part of the Anatolian highlands. The Phrygian sibyl appears to be one of a triplicated sibyl,...

 presided over an oracle of Apollo in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

n Phrygia
Phrygia
In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

. The inspired speech of divining women, however, was interpreted by male priests; a woman might be a mantic (mantis) who became the mouthpiece of a deity through possession, but the "prophecy of interpretation" required specialized knowledge and was considered a rational process suited only for a male '"prophet" (prophētēs).

Ancient Rome

See also Women in ancient Rome: Religious life


The Latin word sacerdos, "priest," is the same for both the masculine and feminine
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

 form. In Roman state religion
Religion in ancient Rome
Religion in ancient Rome encompassed the religious beliefs and cult practices regarded by the Romans as indigenous and central to their identity as a people, as well as the various and many cults imported from other peoples brought under Roman rule. Romans thus offered cult to innumerable deities...

, the priesthood of the Vestals was responsible for the continuance and security of Rome as embodied by the sacred fire that they could not allow to go out. The Vestals were a college
Collegium (ancient Rome)
In Ancient Rome, a collegium was any association with a legal personality. Such associations had various functions.-Functioning:...

 of six sacerdotes (plural) devoted to Vesta, goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

 of the hearth, both the focus of a private home (domus
Domus
In ancient Rome, the domus was the type of house occupied by the upper classes and some wealthy freedmen during the Republican and Imperial eras. They could be found in almost all the major cities throughout the Roman territories...

) and the state hearth that was the center of communal religion
Sacred fire of Vesta
The sacred fire of Vesta was a holy fire in Ancient Rome. The Vestal Virgins were selected by lot and served for thirty years, tending the holy fire and performing other rituals connected to domestic life—among them were the ritual sweeping of the temple on June 15 and the preparation of...

. Freed of the usual social obligations to marry and rear children, the Vestals took a vow of chastity
Chastity
Chastity refers to the sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization, or religion....

 in order to devote themselves to the study and correct observance of state rituals that were off-limits to the male colleges of priests. They retained their religious authority until the era of Christian dominance
State church of the Roman Empire
The state church of the Roman Empire was a Christian institution organized within the Roman Empire during the 4th century that came to represent the Empire's sole authorized religion. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches claim to be the historical continuation of this...

, when the Christian emperor Gratian
Gratian
Gratian was Roman Emperor from 375 to 383.The eldest son of Valentinian I, during his youth Gratian accompanied his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers...

 confiscated their revenues and his successor Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

 closed the Temple of Vesta
Temple of Vesta
The Temple of Vesta is an ancient edifice in Rome, Italy, located in the Roman Forum near the Regia and the House of the Vestal Virgins. The temple's most recognizable feature is its circular footprint. Since the worship of Vesta began in private homes, the architecture seems to be a reminder of...

 permanently.

The Romans also had at least two priesthoods that were each held jointly by a married couple, the rex
Rex Sacrorum
In ancient Roman religion, the rex sacrorum was a senatorial priesthood reserved for patricians. Although in the historical era the pontifex maximus was the head of Roman state religion, Festus says that in the ranking of priests, the rex sacrorum was of highest prestige, followed by the flamines...

 and regina sacrorum, and the flamen
Flamen Dialis
In ancient Roman religion, the Flamen Dialis was the high priest of Jupiter. There were 15 flamines, of which three were flamines maiores, serving the three gods of the Archaic Triad...

 and flaminica Dialis. The regina sacrorum ("queen of the sacred rites") and the flaminica Dialis (high priestess of Jupiter
Jupiter (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

) each had her own distinct duties and presided over public sacrifices, the regina on the first day of every month
Kalends
The Calends , correspond to the first days of each month of the Roman calendar. The Romans assigned these calends to the first day of the month, signifying the start of the new moon cycle...

, and the flaminica every nundinal cycle (the Roman equivalent of a week). The highly public nature of these sacrifices, like the role of the Vestals, indicates that women's religious activities in ancient Rome were not restricted to the private or domestic sphere. So essential was the gender complement to these priesthoods that if the wife died, the husband had to give up his office.

The title sacerdos was often specified in relation to a deity or temple, such as a sacerdos Cereris or Cerealis, "priestess of Ceres
Ceres (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome's so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as "the Greek rites of Ceres"...

", an office never held by men. Female sacerdotes played a leading role in the sanctuaries of Ceres and Proserpina
Proserpina
Proserpina or Proserpine is an ancient Roman goddess whose story is the basis of a myth of Springtime. Her Greek goddess' equivalent is Persephone. The probable origin of her name comes from the Latin, "proserpere" or "to emerge," in respect to the growing of grain...

 in Rome and throughout Italy that observed so-called "Greek rite" (ritus graecus). This form of worship had spread from Sicily under Greek influence, and the Aventine cult
Aventine Triad
The Aventine Triad is a modern term for the joint cult of the Roman deities Ceres, Liber and Libera. The cult was established ca. 493 BC within a sacred district on or near the Aventine Hill, traditionally associated with the Roman plebs...

 of Ceres in Rome was headed by male priests. Only women celebrated the rites of the Bona Dea
Bona Dea
Bona Dea was a divinity in ancient Roman religion. She was associated with chastity and fertility in women, healing, and the protection of the Roman state and people...

 ("Good Goddess"), for whom sacerdotes are recorded.

From the Mid Republic onward, religious diversity became increasingly characteristic of the city of Rome. Many religions that were not part of Rome's earliest state religion offered leadership roles as priests for women, among them the imported cult
Cult (religious practice)
In traditional usage, the cult of a religion, quite apart from its sacred writings , its theology or myths, or the personal faith of its believers, is the totality of external religious practice and observance, the neglect of which is the definition of impiety. Cult in this primary sense is...

 of Isis and of the Magna Mater ("Great Mother", or Cybele
Cybele
Cybele , was a Phrygian form of the Earth Mother or Great Mother. As with Greek Gaia , her Minoan equivalent Rhea and some aspects of Demeter, Cybele embodies the fertile Earth...

). An epitaph
Epitaph
An epitaph is a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial...

 preserves the title sacerdos maxima for a woman who held the highest priesthood of the Magna Mater's temple near the current site of St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

. Inscriptions
Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
The Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum is a comprehensive collection of ancient Latin inscriptions. It forms an authoritative source for documenting the surviving epigraphy of classical antiquity. Public and personal inscriptions throw light on all aspects of Roman life and history...

 for the Imperial era
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 record priestesses of Juno Populona
Juno (mythology)
Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Greek equivalent is Hera...

 and of deified women of the Imperial household
Imperial cult
An imperial cult is a form of state religion in which an emperor, or a dynasty of emperors , are worshipped as messiahs, demigods or deities. "Cult" here is used to mean "worship", not in the modern pejorative sense...

.

Under some circumstances, when cults such as mystery religions were introduced to Romans, it was preferred that they be maintained by women. Although it was Roman practice to incorporate other religions instead of trying to eradicate them, the secrecy of some mystery cults was regarded with suspicion. In 189 BCE, the senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 attempted to suppress the Bacchanals
Bacchanalia
The bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Greco-Roman god Bacchus , the wine god. The term has since come to describe any form of drunken revelry.-History:...

, claiming the secret rites corrupted morality and were a hotbed of political conspiracy. One provision of the senatorial decree
Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus
The senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus is a notable Old Latin inscription dating to AUC 568, or 186 BC. It was discovered in 1640 at Tiriolo, southern Italy...

 was that only women should serve as priests of the Dionysian religion
Dionysian Mysteries
The Dionysian Mysteries were a ritual of ancient Greece and Rome which used intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques to remove inhibitions and social constraints, liberating the individual to return to a natural state. It also provided some liberation for those marginalized by Greek...

, perhaps to guard against the politicizing of the cult, since even Roman women who were citizens lacked the right to vote or hold political office. Priestesses of Liber
Liber
In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Liber , also known as Liber Pater was a god of viticulture and wine, fertility and freedom. He was a patron deity of Rome's plebeians and was part of their Aventine Triad. His festival of Liberalia became associated with free speech and the rights...

, the Roman god identified with
Interpretatio graeca
Interpretatio graeca is a Latin term for the common tendency of ancient Greek writers to equate foreign divinities to members of their own pantheon. Herodotus, for example, refers to the ancient Egyptian gods Amon, Osiris and Ptah as "Zeus", "Dionysus" and "Hephaestus", respectively.-Roman...

 Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

, are mentioned by the 1st-century BC scholar Varro
Varro
Varro was a Roman cognomen carried by:*Marcus Terentius Varro, sometimes known as Varro Reatinus, the scholar*Publius Terentius Varro or Varro Atacinus, the poet*Gaius Terentius Varro, the consul defeated at the battle of Cannae...

, as well as indicated by epigraphic evidence.

Other religious titles for Roman women include magistra, a high priestess, female expert or teacher; and ministra, a female assistant, particularly one in service to a deity. A magistra or ministra would have been responsible for the regular maintenance of a cult. Epitaphs provide the main evidence for these priesthoods, and the woman is often not identified in terms of her marital status.

Buddhism


The tradition of the ordained monastic community in Buddhism (the sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

) began with the Buddha, who established an order of monks. According to the scriptures, later, after an initial reluctance, he also established an order of nuns. Fully ordained Buddhist nuns are called bhikkhuni
Bhikkhuni
A bhikkhuni or bhikṣuṇī is a fully ordained female Buddhist monastic. Male monastics are called bhikkhus. Both bhikkhunis and bhikkhus live by the vinaya...

s.
Mahapajapati Gotami
Mahapajapati Gotami
Mahāpajābatī Gotamī was the first woman to request ordination from the Buddha and to join the Saṅgha...

, the aunt and foster mother of Buddha, was the first bhikkhuni.

However, the bhikkhuni ordination once existing in the countries where Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 is more widespread died out around the 10th century, and novice ordination has also disappeared in those countries. Therefore, women who wish to live as nuns in those countries must do so by taking eight or ten precepts. Neither laywomen nor formally ordained, these women do not receive the recognition, education, financial support or status enjoyed by Buddhist men in their countries. These "precept-holders" live in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, and Thailand. Japan is a special case as, although it has neither the bhikkhuni nor novice ordinations, the precept-holding nuns who live there do enjoy a higher status and better education than their precept-holder sisters elsewhere, and can even become Zen priests.

The bhikkhuni ordination of Buddhist nuns has always been practiced in East Asia.
Also, bhikkhuni ordination of Buddhist nuns began again in Sri Lanka in 1998 after a lapse of 900 years. In 2003 Ayya Sudhamma became the first American-born woman to receive bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka.
Furthermore, on February 28, 2003, Dhammananda Bhikkhuni
Dhammananda Bhikkhuni
Chatsumarn Kabilsingh , ordained Bhikkhuni Dhammananda, is a Thai Buddhist nun. On February 28, 2003, Kabilsingh received full bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka making her the first Thai woman to receive full ordination as a Theravada nun in Dharmaguptaka ordination lineage...

, formerly known as Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, became the first Thai woman to receive bhikkhuni ordination as a Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 nun (Theravada is a school of Buddhism).
Dhammananda Bhikkhuni was ordained in Sri Lanka. A 55-year-old Buddhist nun, Varanggana Vanavichayen, became the first female monk to be ordained in Thailand in 2002. She was ordained by a Sri Lankan woman monk in the presence of a male Thai monk. Theravada scriptures, as interpreted in Thailand, require that for a woman to be ordained as a monk, the ceremony must be attended by both a male and female monk. In 2009 in Australia four women received bhikkhuni ordination as Theravada nuns, the first time such ordination had occurred in Australia.

In 1998 Sherry Chayat, born in Brooklyn, became the first American woman to receive transmission in the Rinzai school of Buddhism.In 2006 Merle Kodo Boyd
Merle Kodo Boyd
Merle Kodo Boyd is the first ever African-American woman to have received Dharma transmission in Zen Buddhism, a Dharma heir of Wendy Egyoku Nakao in the White Plum Asanga...

, born in Texas, became the first African-American woman ever to receive Dharma transmission in Zen Buddhism.
Also in 2006, for the first time in American history, a Buddhist ordination was held where an American woman (Sister Khanti-Khema
Sister Khanti-Khema
Sister Khema,Samaneri is an American-born novice Theravada Buddhist nun.Her ordination on September 7, 2006 was a surprise for American Buddhism, not just because the ceremony was officiated by an American Maha Thera Buddhist Monk, but also because this was the first such ordination in America,...

) took the Samaneri
Samaneri
A samaneri is a novice Buddhist nun, who lives according to the ten precepts. Male novices are called samaneras. A woman is to be ordained, according to Theravada tradition, by both a monk and a nun, first as a samaneri. After a year or at the age of 20, she will be ordained as a full bhikkhuni....

 (novice) vows with an American monk (Bhante Vimalaramsi
Bhante Vimalaramsi
Bhante Vimalaramsi is an American Buddhist monk. He is the Abbot and founder of the Dhammasukha Meditation Center in Annapolis, Missouri, USA.-Biography:...

) presiding. This was done for the Buddhist American Forest Tradition at the Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center in Missouri.
In 2010 the first Buddhist nunnery in America (Vajra Dakini Nunnery in Vermont) was officially consecrated. It offers novice ordination. It is a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery that follows the Drikung Kagyu
Drikung Kagyu
Drikung Kagyu or Drigung Kagyu is one of the eight "minor" lineages of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. "Major" here refers to those Kagyu lineages founded by the immediate disciples of Gampopa while "minor" refers to all the lineages founded by disciples of Phakmo Drupa , one of the three...

 lineage of Buddhism. The abbot of the Vajra Dakini nunnery is Khenmo Drolma, an American woman, who is the first bhikkhuni in the Drikung Kagyu
Drikung Kagyu
Drikung Kagyu or Drigung Kagyu is one of the eight "minor" lineages of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. "Major" here refers to those Kagyu lineages founded by the immediate disciples of Gampopa while "minor" refers to all the lineages founded by disciples of Phakmo Drupa , one of the three...

 lineage of Buddhism, having been ordained in Taiwan in 2002. She is also the first westerner, male or female, to be installed as an abbot in the Drikung Kagyu
Drikung Kagyu
Drikung Kagyu or Drigung Kagyu is one of the eight "minor" lineages of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. "Major" here refers to those Kagyu lineages founded by the immediate disciples of Gampopa while "minor" refers to all the lineages founded by disciples of Phakmo Drupa , one of the three...

 lineage of Buddhism, having been installed as the abbot of the Vajra Dakini Nunnery in 2004. The Vajra Dakini Nunnery does not follow The Eight Garudhammas
The Eight Garudhammas
The Eight Garudhammas detail a set of rules for female Buddhist monastics . The rules present a series of subordinations towards their male counterparts .-Purpose:...

.

Christianity


In the liturgical traditions of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, including the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

, Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 and Anglicanism
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

, the term ordination refers more narrowly to the means by which a person is included in one of the orders of bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s, priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

s or deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

s. This is distinguished from the process of consecration to religious order
Religious order
A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of initiates and, in some...

s, namely nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s and monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s, which are open to women and men.

Some Protestant denominations understand ordination more generally as the acceptance of a person for pastoral work.

Anglican


Within Anglicanism
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 the majority of provinces ordain women as deacons and priests.

The first three women priests ordained in the Anglican Communion were in the Anglican Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao
Anglican Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao
The Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao was one of the dioceses in the Anglican Communion which did not previously belong to an ecclesiastical province. It was formed in 1951 from the previous Diocese of Victoria in the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui...

: Li Tim-Oi
Li Tim-Oi
Florence Li Tim-Oi was the first woman to be ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion. Already appointed as a deacon to serve in the colony of Macau at the Macau Protestant Chapel, she was ordained priest on 25 January 1944, by Ronald Hall, Bishop of Victoria, in response to the crisis...

 in 1944 and Jane Hwang and Joyce Bennett in 1971.

A number of Anglican provinces also ordain women as bishops, though, as of 2010, only four of the provinces have done so: the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican churches of Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Cuba, one of the extra-provincial Anglican churches
Extra-provincial Anglican churches
The extra-provincial Anglican churches are a group of small, semi-independent church entities within the Anglican Communion. Unlike the larger member churches of the Communion, extra-provincial churches are not part of an ecclesiastical province and are, in most cases, subject to the metropolitical...

, has done so as well.
  • In 1989, Barbara Harris was the first woman ordained as a bishop in the Anglican Communion, for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
    Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
    Episcopal Diocese of MassachusettsThe Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts is one of the nine original dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America....

    .
  • In 1990, Penny Jamieson
    Penny Jamieson
    Penelope Ann Bansall "Penny" Jamieson DCNZM was the seventh Bishop of Dunedin in the Anglican Church of New Zealand from 1989 until her retirement in 2004...

     was ordained a bishop in New Zealand for the Diocese of Dunedin.
  • In 1993, Victoria Matthews was elected a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Toronto, Canada on 19 November, consecrated February 1994.
  • In 2007, Nerva Cot Aguilera was ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church of Cuba.
  • In 2008, Kay Goldsworthy
    Kay Goldsworthy
    Kay Goldsworthy is a bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Perth, Western Australia. In April 2008 she was chosen to become an assistant bishop in the diocese by the Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft...

     was ordained as an assistant bishop for the Diocese of Perth.


The Anglican church in Ireland has permitted the ordination of women as bishops since 1990 but none have yet occurred. The Anglican church in Scotland also permits the ordination of women as bishops since 2003, but none have yet been appointed.

In England the issue of women being ordained as bishops is contentious and under discussion as of 2010. The issue was voted down in 2008 by the Anglican Church in Wales.

On June 18, 2006, the Episcopal Church in the United States was the first Anglican province to appoint a woman, Katharine Jefferts Schori
Katharine Jefferts Schori
Katharine Jefferts Schori is the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States. Previously elected as the 9th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, she is the first woman elected as a primate of the Anglican Communion...

, as their Primate (the highest position possible in an Anglican province), called the "Presiding Bishop" in the United States.

With the October 16, 2010, ordination of Margaret Lee, in the Peoria-based Diocese of Quincy, Illinois, women have been ordained as priests in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Jehovah's Witnesses


Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 consider qualified public baptism to represent the baptizand's ordination, following which he or she is immediately considered an ordained minister. In 1941, the Supreme Court of Vermont recognized the validity of this ordination for a female Jehovah's Witness minister. The majority of Witnesses actively preaching from door to door are female. Women are commonly appointed as full-time ministers, either to evangelize as "pioneers" or missionaries, or to serve at their branch offices.

Nevertheless, Witness deacons ("ministerial servants") and elders must be male, and only a baptized adult male may perform a Jehovah's Witness baptism, funeral
Funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

, or wedding
Wedding
A wedding is the ceremony in which two people are united in marriage or a similar institution. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes...

. Within the congregation, a female Witness minister may only lead prayer and teaching when there is a special need, and must do so wearing a head covering.

Latter Day Saints


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not ordain women. However, some (most notably D. Michael Quinn and Margaret Toscano) argue that the church ordained women in the past and that therefore the church currently has the power to ordain women and should do so.

The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints adopted the practice of women's ordination in 1984, which resulted in a major schism between the Community of Christ
Community of Christ
The Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , is an American-based international Christian church established in April 1830 that claims as its mission "to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace"...

 which accepted women in the priesthood and the newly formed Restoration Branches
Restoration Branches
The Restoration Branches movement is a Christian/Latter Day Saint religious sect which was formed in the 1980s by members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in a reaction against the events of the RLDS 1984 world conference...

 movement which rejected women in the priesthood.

Liberal Catholic


Of all the churches in the Liberal Catholic movement, only the original church, the Liberal Catholic Church
Liberal Catholic Church
The Liberal Catholic Church is a form of Christianity open to theosophical ideas and even reincarnation. It is not connected to the Roman Catholic Church, which considers it heretical and schismatic...

 under Bishop Graham Wale, does not ordain women. The position held by the Liberal Catholic Church is the same as the Roman Catholic Church, that the church, even if it wanted to ordain women, does not have the authority to do so that and it is not possible for a woman to be ordained even if she went through the ceremony.

Nevertheless, the first Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, J.I. Wedgwood
J.I. Wedgwood
James Ingall Wedgwood was the first Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church.Wedgwood was a former Anglican, a member of the Theosophical Society and a member of a co-Masonic order...

, allegedly consecrated Annie Besant
Annie Besant
Annie Besant was a prominent British Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule.She was married at 19 to Frank Besant but separated from him over religious differences. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society ...

 as a bishop in 1925 according to the late Bishop Sigrid Fjellander who was present at the ceremony.

Orthodox


The Orthodox Churches follow a similar line of reasoning as the Roman Catholic Church with respect to ordination of priests, and does not allow women's ordination.

Evangelos Theodorou argued that female deacons were actually ordained in antiquity. K. K. Fitzgerald has followed and amplified Professor Theodorou's research. Bishop Kallistos Ware wrote:

The order of deaconesses seems definitely to have been considered an "ordained" ministry during early centuries in at any rate the Christian East. ... Some Orthodox writers regard deaconesses as having been a "lay" ministry. There are strong reasons for rejecting this view. In the Byzantine rite the liturgical office for the laying-on of hands for the deaconess is exactly parallel to that for the deacon; and so on the principle lex orandi, lex credendi
Lex orandi, lex credendi
Lex orandi, lex credendi refers to the relationship between worship and belief, and is an ancient Christian principle which provided a measure for developing the ancient Christian creeds, the canon of scripture and other doctrinal matters based on the prayer texts of the Church, that is, the...

—the Church's worshipping practice is a sure indication of its faith—it follows that the deaconesses receives, as does the deacon, a genuine sacramental ordination: not just a (chirothesia) but a (chirotonia). However, the ordination of women in the Catholic Church does exist. Although it is not widespread, it is official by the Roman Catholic Church.


On October 8, 2004, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece voted to permit the ordination of monastic women deacons, that is, women deacons to minister and assist at the liturgy within their own monasteries. There is a strong monastic tradition, pursued by both men and women in the Orthodox churches, where monks and nuns lead identical spiritual lives. Unlike Western-rite Catholic religious life, which has myriad traditions, both contemplative and active (see Benedictine monks, Franciscan friars
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

, Jesuits), that of Orthodoxy has remained exclusively ascetic and monastic
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

.

Protestant


A key theological
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 doctrine for Reformed and most other Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 is the priesthood of all believers
Priesthood of all believers
The universal priesthood or the priesthood of all believers, as it would come to be known in the present day, is a Christian doctrine believed to be derived from several passages of the New Testament...

—a doctrine considered by them so important that it has been dubbed by some as "a clarion truth of Scripture."
Most Protestant denominations require pastors, ministers, deacons, and elders to be formally ordained. While the process of ordination varies among the denominations and the specific church office to be held, it may require preparatory training such as seminary or Bible college, election by the congregation or appointment by a higher authority, and expectations of a lifestyle that requires a higher standard. For example, the Good News Translation of says, "My friends, not many of you should become teachers. As you know, we teachers will be judged with greater strictness than others."

Traditionally, these roles were male preserves, but over the last century an increasing number of denominations have begun ordaining women. The Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 appointed female lay readers during the First World War. Later the United Church of Canada
United Church of Canada
The United Church of Canada is a Protestant Christian denomination in Canada. It is the largest Protestant church and, after the Roman Catholic Church, the second-largest Christian church in Canada...

 in 1936 and the American United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination which is both mainline Protestant and evangelical. Founded in 1968 by the union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley...

 in 1956 also began to ordain women.


Meanwhile, women's ministry has been part of Methodist tradition in Britain for over 200 years. In the late 18th century in England, John Wesley allowed for female office-bearers and preachers.

The Salvation Army
Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian church known for its thrift stores and charity work. It is an international movement that currently works in over a hundred countries....

 has allowed the ordination of women since its beginning, although it was a hotly-disputed topic between William and Catherine Booth. The fourth, thirteenth, and nineteenth Generals of the Salvation Army
Generals of The Salvation Army
thumbnail|left|1st General, William BoothGeneral is the title of the international leader of The Salvation Army, a Christian denomination with extensive charitable social services that gives quasi-military rank to its ministers .Usage of the term General began with the Founder of The Salvation...

 were women.

Today, over half of all American Protestant denominations ordain women, but some restrict the official positions a woman can hold. For instance, some ordain women for the military or hospital chaplaincy but prohibit them from serving in congregational roles. Over one-third of all seminary students (and in some seminaries nearly half) are female.

The Protestant denominations that refuse to ordain women often do so on the basis of New Testament scriptures that they interpret as prohibiting women from fulfilling church roles that require ordination An especially important consideration here is the way 1 Timothy 2:12
1 Timothy 2:12 ("I suffer not a woman")
1 Timothy 2:12 is a passage from the first letter, I Timothy, of the pastoral epistles in the New Testament. The excerpt is typically raised in opposition to women being ordained as clergy and holding certain other positions of ministry and leadership in Christianity...

 is translated and interpreted in the New Testament.

Roman Catholic


The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, as emphasised by Pope John Paul II in the apostolic letter "Ordinatio sacerdotalis", is "that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."
This teaching is embodied in the current canon law
Canon law (Catholic Church)
The canon law of the Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation. It lacks the necessary binding force present in most modern day legal systems. The academic...

 (specifically canon law 1024) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

, by the canonical statement: "Only a baptized man (in Latin, vir) validly receives sacred ordination."
Insofar as priestly and episcopal ordination are concerned, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that this requirement is a matter of divine law; it belongs to the deposit of faith and is unchangeable. In 2007, the Holy See issued a decree saying that the attempted ordination of women would result in automatic excommunication for the women and priests trying to ordain them.
In 2010, the Holy See stated that the ordination of women is a "grave delict".

Attempted ordination


In 1970 Ludmila Javorova attempted ordination as a Catholic priest in Czechoslovakia
by a friend of her family, Bishop Felix Davidek (1921–88), himself clandestinely consecrated, due to the shortage of priests caused by communist persecution; however, in February 2000 an official statement from the Holy See declared the ordinations invalid while recognizing the severe circumstances under which they occurred.

Dissent


Some dissenting scholars (for example, Father Robert W. Hovda, Robert J. Karris and Damien Casey) have written in favor of ordaining women. Furthermore, 12 groups have been founded throughout the world advocating for women's ordination in the Catholic Church. Women's Ordination Worldwide, founded in 1996 in Austria, is a network of national and international groups whose primary mission is the admission of Roman Catholic women to all ordained ministries, including Catholic Women's Ordination (founded in March 1993 in the United Kingdom), Roman Catholic Womenpriests
Roman Catholic Womenpriests
Roman Catholic Womenpriests is an Independent Catholic international group that asserts a connection to the Catholic Church. They are descended from the Danube Seven, a group of women who claim to have been ordained as priests in 2002 by Rómulo Antonio Braschi, an independent bishop...

 (founded in 2002 in America), Women's Ordination Conference
Women's Ordination Conference
The Women's Ordination Conference is the oldest and largest national organization that works to ordain women as deacons, priests, and bishops into the Roman Catholic Church. Founded in 1975, it primarily promotes an agenda with the objective of ordaining women within the Catholic Church. The idea...

 (founded in 1975 in America) and others.

Hinduism


There are two types of Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 priests, purohits and pujaris. Both women and men are ordained as purohits and pujaris.

Furthermore, both men and women are gurus (gurus are teachers of Hinduism but are not always ordained; when they are, it is by their own guru).

Chanda Vyas, born in Kenya, was the first female Hindu priest in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

.

Some of the chapters of the Vedas were written by women, and there is a famous debate between a man and a woman in the Upanishads in which she bests him.

Indigenous and ethnic religions


Africa


The Yoruba people of western Nigeria practice an indigenous religion with a religious hierarchy of priests and priestesses that dates to 800-1000 CE. Ifá priests and priestesses bear the titles Babalowo for men and Iyanifa for females. Priests and priestess of the varied Orisha are titled Babalorisa for men and Iyalorisa for women. Initiates are also given an Orisa or Ifá name that signifies under which deity they are initiated; for example a Priestess of Oshun may be named Osunyemi and a Priest of Ifá
Ifá
Ifá refers to the system of divination and the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odú Ifá. Yoruba religion identifies Orunmila as the Grand Priest; as that which revealed Oracle divinity to the world...

 may be named Ifáyemi. This ancient culture continues to this day as initiates from all around the world return to Nigeria for initiation into the traditional priesthood.

Okinawa


The indigenous religion of Okinawa, Japan is led by female priests; this makes it the only known official mainstream religion of a society led by women.

Islam


Although Muslims
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 do not formally ordain religious leaders, the imam
Imam
An imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question...

 serves as a spiritual leader and religious authority. There is a current controversy among Muslims on the circumstances in which women may act as imams—that is, lead a congregation in salat (prayer). Three of the four Sunni schools, as well as many Shia, agree that a woman may lead a congregation consisting of women alone in prayer, although the Maliki
Maliki
The ' madhhab is one of the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. It is the second-largest of the four schools, followed by approximately 25% of Muslims, mostly in North Africa, West Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and in some parts of Saudi Arabia...

 school does not allow this. According to all currently existing traditional schools of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, a woman cannot lead a mixed gender congregation in salat (prayer). Some schools make exceptions for Tarawih
Tarawih
Tarawih refers to extra congregational prayers performed by Muslims at night in the Islamic month of Ramadan. They are not compulsory; however, many Muslims pray these prayers in the night during Ramadan...

 (optional Ramadan
Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

 prayers) or for a congregation consisting only of close relatives. Certain medieval scholars—including Al-Tabari (838–932), Abu Thawr
Abu Thawr
Abu Thawr , in full Ibrhim bin Khalid Abu Thawr, was an early scholar of Islam. He taught that women could serve as Imams.A personal school was built of the followers of Abu Thawr.-Sources:**...

 (764–854), Al-Muzani (791–878), and Ibn Arabi
Ibn Arabi
Ibn ʿArabī was an Andalusian Moorish Sufi mystic and philosopher. His full name was Abū 'Abdillāh Muḥammad ibn 'Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn `Arabī .-Biography:...

 (1165–1240)—considered the practice permissible at least for optional (nafila) prayers; however, their views are not accepted by any major surviving group. Islamic feminists have begun to protest this.

Women's mosques, called nusi, and female imams have existed since the 19th century in China and continue today.

In 1994, Amina Wadud
Amina Wadud
Amina Wadud is an American scholar of Islam with a progressive focus on Qur'an exegesis . As an Islamic feminist, she has addressed mixed-sex congregations, giving a sermon in South Africa in 1994, and leading Friday prayers in the United States in 2005...

, (an Islamic studies professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, born in the United States), became the first woman in South Africa to deliver the jum'ah khutbah (Friday sermon), which she did at the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town, South Africa.

In 2004 20-year-old Maryam Mirza delivered the second half of the Eid al-Fitr khutbah at the Etobicoke mosque in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, run by the United Muslim Association.

In 2004, in Canada, Yasmin Shadeer led the night 'Isha prayer for a mixed-gender (men as well as women praying and hearing the sermon) congregation. This is the first recorded occasion in modern times where a woman led a congregation in prayer in a mosque.

On March 18, 2005, Amina Wadud
Amina Wadud
Amina Wadud is an American scholar of Islam with a progressive focus on Qur'an exegesis . As an Islamic feminist, she has addressed mixed-sex congregations, giving a sermon in South Africa in 1994, and leading Friday prayers in the United States in 2005...

 gave a sermon and led Friday prayers for a Muslim congregation consisting of men as well as women, with no curtain dividing the men and women. Another woman, Suheyla El-Attar, sounded the call to prayer while not wearing a headscarf at that same event. This was done in the Synod House of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York after mosques refused to host the event. This was the first known time that a woman had led a mixed-gender Muslim congregation in prayer in American history.

In April 2005, Raheel Raza
Raheel Raza
Raheel Raza is a Muslim Canadian journalist, author, public speaker, media consultant, anti-racism activist, and interfaith discussion leader. She lives in Toronto, Canada. She has been compared to Asra Nomani and Amina Wadud for her controversial views on Islam.She is the author of Their Jihad,...

, born in Pakistan, led Toronto's first woman-led mixed-gender Friday prayer service, delivering the sermon and leading the prayers of the mixed-gender congregation organized by the Muslim Canadian Congress to celebrate Earth Day in the backyard of the downtown Toronto home of activist Tarek Fatah.

On July 1, 2005, Pamela Taylor, a Muslim convert since 1986, became the first woman to lead Friday prayers in a Canadian mosque, and did so for a congregation of both men and women. Pamela Taylor is an American convert to Islam and co-chair of the New York-based Progressive Muslim Union. In addition to leading the prayers, Taylor also gave a sermon on the importance of equality among people regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation and disability.

In October 2005, Amina Wadud led a mixed gender congregational prayer in Barcelona.

In 2008, Pamela Taylor gave the Friday khutbah and led the mixed-gender prayers in Toronto at the UMA mosque at the invitation of the Muslim Canadian Congress on Canada Day
Canada Day
Canada Day , formerly Dominion Day , is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act , which united three British colonies into a single country, called Canada, within the British Empire...

.

On 17 October 2008, Amina Wadud became the first woman to lead a mixed-gender congregation in prayer in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 when she performed the Friday prayers at Oxford's Wolfson College.

In 2010, Raheel Raza became the first Muslim-born woman to lead a mixed-gender British congregation through Friday prayers.


Judaism


Only men can become rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

s in Orthodox Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 (although there has been one female Hasidic rebbe
Rebbe
Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

, Hannah Rachel Verbermacher, also known as the Maiden of Ludmir
Maiden of Ludmir
The Maiden of Ludmir, , , also known as the "Ludmirer Moyd", was the only female Rebbe in the history of the Hasidic movement....

, active in the 19th century);
however all other types of Judaism allow and have female rabbis.
In 1935 Regina Jonas
Regina Jonas
Regina Jonas was a Berlin-born rabbi. In 1935, she became the first Jewish woman to be ordained as a rabbi .-Early life:She became orphaned from her father when she was very young...

 was ordained privately by a German rabbi and became the world's first female rabbi.
Sally Priesand
Sally Priesand
Sally Jane Priesand is America's first ordained female rabbi, and the second ordained female rabbi in the world, after Regina Jonas.-Early life:...

 became the first female rabbi in Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

 in 1972,
Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is the first woman to have been ordained a rabbi in the Reconstructionist movement of Judaism. She was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, on May 19, 1974. She is also an author of many children's book on religious topics.-Youth and Early...

 became the first female rabbi in Reconstructionist Judaism
Reconstructionist Judaism
Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern American-based Jewish movement based on the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan . The movement views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization. It originated as a branch of Conservative Judaism, before it splintered...

 in 1974,
Lynn Gottlieb
Lynn Gottlieb
Lynn Gottlieb, born April 12, 1949, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is an American rabbi in the Jewish Renewal movement . Gottlieb entered pulpit life at the age of 23 in 1973, as leader of Temple Beth Or of the Deaf in New York City. In 1981, she became the first woman ordained as a rabbi in the...

 became the first female rabbi in Jewish Renewal
Jewish Renewal
Jewish Renewal , is a recent movement in Judaism which endeavors to reinvigorate modern Judaism with mystical, Hasidic, musical and meditative practices...

 in 1981,
Amy Eilberg
Amy Eilberg
Amy Eilberg is the first female rabbi ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, one of the academic centers and spiritual centers of Conservative Judaism.-Youth and early life:...

 became the first female rabbi in Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

 in 1985,
and Tamara Kolton
Tamara Kolton
Tamara Kolton is the first rabbi ordained in Humanistic Judaism . She grew up attending the Birmingham Temple in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and has practiced Humanistic Judaism throughout her life...

 became the very first rabbi of either sex (and therefore, since she was female, the first female rabbi) in Humanistic Judaism
Humanistic Judaism
Humanistic Judaism is a movement in Judaism that offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people and encourages humanistic and secular Jews to celebrate their Jewish identity by participating in Jewish...

 in 1999.
Women in these types of Judaism are routinely granted semicha
Semicha
, also , or is derived from a Hebrew word which means to "rely on" or "to be authorized". It generally refers to the ordination of a rabbi within Judaism. In this sense it is the "transmission" of rabbinic authority to give advice or judgment in Jewish law...

 (meaning ordination) on an equal basis with men.

Only men can become cantors
Hazzan
A hazzan or chazzan is a Jewish cantor, a musician trained in the vocal arts who helps lead the congregation in songful prayer.There are many rules relating to how a cantor should lead services, but the idea of a cantor as a paid professional does not exist in classical rabbinic sources...

 in Orthodox Judaism, but all other types of Judaism allow and have female cantors. In 1955 Betty Robbins, born in Greece, became the world's first female cantor when she was appointed cantor of the Reform congregation of Temple Avodah in Oceanside, New York, in July.
Barbara Ostfeld-Horowitz became the first female cantor to be ordained in Reform Judaism in 1975.
Erica Lippitz and Marla Rosenfeld Barugel became the first female cantors in Conservative Judaism in 1987.
However, the Cantors Assembly
Cantors Assembly
The Cantors Assembly is the international association of hazzanim affiliated with Conservative Judaism. The CA was founded in 1947 to develop the profession of the hazzan, to foster the fellowship and welfare of hazzanim, and to establish a conservatory for hazzanim...

, a professional organization of cantors associated with Conservative Judaism, did not allow women to join until 1990. In 2001 Deborah Davis became the first cantor of either sex (and therefore, since she was female, the first female cantor) in Humanistic Judaism, although Humanistic Judaism has since stopped graduating cantors.
Sharon Hordes became the first cantor of either sex (and therefore, since she was female, the first female cantor) in Reconstructionist Judaism in 2002. Avitall Gerstetter, who lives in Germany, became the first female cantor in Jewish Renewal (and the first female cantor in Germany) in 2002. Susan Wehle became the first American female cantor in Jewish Renewal in 2006; however, she died in 2009. The first American women to be ordained as cantors in Jewish Renewal after Susan Wehle's ordination were Michal Rubin and Abbe Lyons, both ordained on January 10, 2010.

Shinto


In Shintoism, Saiin (斎院, saiin?) were unmarried female relatives of the Japanese emperor
Emperor of Japan
The Emperor of Japan is, according to the 1947 Constitution of Japan, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He is a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy and is head of the Japanese Imperial Family with functions as head of state. He is also the highest...

, termed Saiō
Saio
A , also known as "Itsuki no Miko", was an unmarried female relative of the Japanese emperor, sent to Ise to serve at Ise Grand Shrine from the late 7th century until the 14th century. The Saiō's residence, Saikū , was approximately 10 km north-west of the shrine...

 in the singular, who served as high priestesses at Ise Grand Shrine from the late 7th century until the 14th century. Ise Grand Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the goddess Amaterasu-ōmikami. Saiin priestesses were usually elected from royalty (内親王, naishinnō) such as princesses (女王, joō). In principle, Saiin remained unmarried, but there were exceptions. Some Saiin became consorts of the Emperor, called Nyōgo in Japanese. According to the Man'yōshū (The Anthology of Ten Thousand Leaves), the first Saiō to serve at Ise Grand Shrine was Princess Oku, daughter of Emperor Temmu, during the Asuka period
Asuka period
The , was a period in the history of Japan lasting from 538 to 710 , although its beginning could be said to overlap with the preceding Kofun period...

 of Japanese history.

The ordination of women as Shinto priests arose again after the abolition of State Shinto
State Shinto
has been called the state religion of the Empire of Japan, although it did not exist as a single institution and no "Shintō" was ever declared a state religion...

 in the aftermath of World War II. See also Miko
Miko
is a Japanese term that anciently meant a "female shaman, spirit medium" who conveyed oracles from kami , and currently means a "shrine maiden; virgin consecrated to a deity" who serves at Shinto shrines.-Word:...

.

Sikhism


Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

 does not have priests, which were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh
Guru Gobind Singh
Guru Gobind Singh is the tenth and last Sikh guru in a sacred lineage of ten Sikh gurus. Born in Patna, Bihar in India, he was also a warrior, poet and philosopher. He succeeded his father Guru Tegh Bahadur as the leader of Sikhs at a young age of nine...

, as the guru had seen that institution become corrupt in society during his time. Instead, he appointed the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, as his successor as Guru instead of a possibly fallible human; and due to the faith's belief in complete equality, women can participate in any religious function and/or perform any Sikh ceremony and/or lead the congregation in prayer. A Sikh woman has the right to become a Granthi, Ragi, and one of the Panj Pyare (5 beloved); both men and women are considered capable of reaching the highest levels of spirituality.

Taoism


Taoists
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 ordain both men and women as priests. In 2009 Wu Chengzhen became the first female Fangzhang (meaning principal abbot) in Taoism's 1,800-year history after being enthroned at Changchun Temple in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, in China. Fangzhang is the highest position in a Taoist temple.

Wicca


There are many different Wicca
Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

n traditions. All ordain women as priests (most also ordain men), and some were created by women.

Some significant dates and events


A list with dates of important events in the history of women's ordination appears below:

  • 6th century BCE Mahapajapati Gotami
    Mahapajapati Gotami
    Mahāpajābatī Gotamī was the first woman to request ordination from the Buddha and to join the Saṅgha...

    , the aunt and foster mother of Buddha, was the first woman to receive Buddhist ordination. She lived in Nepal.
  • 13th century The first female Zen master, as well as the first Zen abbess, was the Japanese abbess Mugai Nyodai
    Mugai Nyodai
    Mugai Nyodai was the first Zen abbess and the first female Zen master in the world. Some details of her life are not certain, but it is generally believed that she was given the childhood name Chiyono, and her father was Adachi Yasumori , a samurai warrior of the mid-Kamakura period...

     (born 1223 - died 1298).
  • 17th century: Asenath Barzani
    Asenath Barzani
    Tanna’it Asenath Barzani was a renowned Kurdish Jewish woman who lived in Mosul, Iraq. She was the daughter of the illustrious Rabbi Samuel Barzani. She studied Kabbalah.-The life of Tanna’it Asenath:...

     led and taught at a yeshiva in Iraq.
  • Circa 1770: Mary Evans Thorne was appointed class leader by Joseph Pilmore in Philadelphia, probably the first woman in America to be so appointed.
  • Late 18th century: John Wesley
    John Wesley
    John Wesley was a Church of England cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield...

     allowed women to preach within his Methodist movement.
  • Early 19th century: A fundamental belief of the Society of Friends (Quakers) has always been the existence of an element of God's spirit in every human soul. Thus all persons are considered to have inherent and equal worth, independent of their gender, and this led to an acceptance of female ministers. In 1660, Margaret Fell
    Margaret Fell
    Margaret Fell or Margaret Fox was a founder of the Religious Society of Friends. Known popularly as the "mother of Quakerism", she is considered one of the Valiant Sixty early Quaker preachers and missionaries.-Life:...

     (1614–1702) published a famous pamphlet to justify equal roles for men and women in the denomination, titled: "Women's Speaking Justified, Proved and Allowed of by the Scriptures, All Such as Speak by the Spirit and Power of the Lord Jesus And How Women Were the First That Preached the Tidings of the Resurrection of Jesus, and Were Sent by Christ's Own Command Before He Ascended to the Father (John 20:17)." In the United States, in contrast with almost every other organized denomination, the Society of Friends (Quakers) has allowed women to serve as ministers since the early 19th century. Furthermore, in England in the 17th century Elizabeth Hooton
    Elizabeth Hooton
    Elizabeth Hooton was one of the earliest preachers in the Religious Society of Friends and was beaten and imprisoned for propagating her beliefs; she was the first woman to become a Quaker minister . She is considered one of the Valiant Sixty, a group of daring Friends preachers...

     became the first female Quaker minister.
  • 19th century: Women's mosques, called nusi, and female imams have existed since the 19th century in China and continue today.
  • 19th century: Hannah Rachel Verbermacher, also known as the Maiden of Ludmir (Ludmirer Moyd), became the only female Rebbe
    Rebbe
    Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

     in the history of the Hasidic movement; she lived in Ukraine and Israel.
  • 1807: The Primitive Methodist Church in Britain first allowed female ministers.
  • 1815: Clarissa Danforth
    Clarissa Danforth
    Clarissa Danforth was the first woman ordained as a Free Will Baptist minister.Danforth was born in Weathersfield, Vermont in 1792. She heard Rev. John Colby preach in 1809 on his way to Ohio and had a conversion experience. After her ordination in 1815, Danforth became an itinerant preacher...

     was ordained in New England. She was the first woman ordained by the Free Will Baptist denomination.
  • 1853: Antoinette Brown Blackwell was the first woman ordained by a church belonging to the Congregationalist Church. However, her ordination was not recognized by the denomination. She later quit the church and became a Unitarian. The Congregationalists later merged with others to create the United Church of Christ, which ordains women.
  • 1861: Mary A. Will was the first woman ordained in the Wesleyan Methodist Connection by the Illinois Conference in the United States. The Wesleyan Methodist Connection eventually became the Wesleyan Church.
  • 1863: Olympia Brown
    Olympia Brown
    Olympia Brown was an American suffragist. She is regarded as the first woman to graduate from a theological school, as well as becoming the first full time ordained minister...

     was ordained by the Universalist denomination in 1863, the first woman ordained by that denomination, in spite of a last-moment case of cold feet by her seminary which feared adverse publicity. After a decade and a half of service as a full-time minister, she became a part-time minister in order to devote more time to the fight for women's rights and universal suffrage. 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.
  • 1865: The Salvation Army was founded, which in the English Methodist tradition always ordained both men and women. However, there were initially rules that prohibited a woman from marrying a man who had a lower rank.
  • 1866: Helenor M. Davison was ordained as a deacon by the North Indiana Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church, probably making her the first ordained woman in the Methodist tradition.
  • 1869: Margaret Newton Van Cott became the first woman in the Methodist Episcopal Church to receive a local preacher's license.
  • 1869: Lydia Sexton (of the United Brethren Church) was appointed chaplain of the Kansas State Prison at the age of 70, the first woman in the United States to hold such a position.
  • 1871: Celia Burleigh became the first female Unitarian minister.
  • 1876: Anna Oliver was the first woman to receive a Bachelor of Divinity degree from an American seminary (Boston University School of Theology).
  • 1879 The Church of Christ, Scientist was founded by a woman, Mary Baker Eddy
    Mary Baker Eddy
    Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of Christian Science , a Protestant American system of religious thought and practice religion adopted by the Church of Christ, Scientist, and others...

    .
  • 1880: Anna Howard Shaw was the first woman ordained in the Methodist Protestant Church, an American church which later merged with other denominations to form the United Methodist Church.
  • 1888: Fidelia Gillette may have been the first ordained woman in Canada. She served the Universalist congregation in Bloomfield, Ontario, during 1888 and 1889. She was presumably ordained in 1888 or earlier.
  • 1889: The Nolin Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church ordained Louisa Woosley as the first female minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, USA.
  • 1889: Ella Niswonger was the first woman ordained in the American United Brethren Church, which later merged with other denominations to form the American United Methodist Church, which has ordained women with full clergy rights and conference membership since 1956.
  • 1890: On September 14, 1890, Ray Frank gave the Rosh Hashana sermon for a community in Spokane, Washington, thus becoming the first woman to preach from a synagogue pulpit, although she was not a rabbi.
  • 1892: Anna Hanscombe is believed to be the first woman ordained by the parent bodies which formed the Church of the Nazarene in 1919.
  • 1894: Julia A. J. Foote was the first woman to be ordained as a deacon by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
  • 1909: The Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) began ordaining women in 1909.
  • 1911: Ann Allebach was the first Mennonite woman to be ordained. This occurred at the First Mennonite Church of Philadelphia.
  • 1914: The Assemblies of God was founded and ordained its first woman pastors in 1914.
  • 1917: The Church of England appointed female "bishop's messengers" to preach, teach, and take missions in the absence of men.
  • 1917: The Congregationalist Church (England and Wales) ordained their first woman, Constance Coltman (née Todd), at the King's Weigh House, London. Its successor is the United Reformed Church (a union of the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England in 1972). Since then two more denominations have joined the union: The Reformed Churches of Christ (1982) and the Congregational Church of Scotland (2000). All of these denominations ordained women at the time of Union and continue to do so. The first woman to be appointed General Secretary of the United Reformed Church was Roberta Rominger in 2008.
  • 1920: The Methodist Episcopal Church granted women the right to become licensed as local preachers.
  • 1920s: Some Baptist denomination
    Christian denomination
    A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. In the Orthodox tradition, Churches are divided often along ethnic and linguistic lines, into separate churches and traditions. Technically, divisions between one group and...

    s started ordaining women.
  • 1922: The Jewish Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis stated that "...woman cannot justly be denied the privilege of ordination." However, the first woman in Reform Judaism to be ordained (Sally Priesand) was not ordained until 1972.
  • 1922: The Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren granted women the right to be licensed into the ministry, but not to be ordained with the same status as men.
  • 1924: The Methodist Episcopal Church granted women limited clergy rights as local elders or deacons, without conference membership.
  • 1927: Gayatri Devi, born in India, became the first Indian woman ordained to teach Vedanta
    Vedanta
    Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

     in the West.
  • 1929: Izabela Wiłucka-Kowalska was the first woman to be ordained by the Old Catholic Mariavite Church in Poland.
  • 1930: A predecessor church of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained its first female as an elder.
  • 1935: Regina Jonas was ordained privately by a German rabbi and became the world's first female rabbi.
  • 1936: Lydia Emelie Gruchy became the first female minister in the United Church of Canada. In 1953, Reverend Lydia Emelie Grouchy was the first Canadian woman to receive an honourary Doctor of Divinity
  • 1944: Florence Li Tim Oi became the first woman to be ordained as an Anglican priest. She was born in Hong Kong, and was ordained in Guandong province in unoccupied China on January 25, 1944, on account of a severe shortage of priests due to World War II. When the war ended, she was forced to relinquish her priesthood, yet she was reinstated as a priest later in 1971 in Hong Kong. "When Hong Kong ordained two further women priests in 1971 (Joyce Bennett and Jane Hwang), Florence Li Tim-Oi was officially recognised as a priest by the diocese." She later moved to Toronto, Canada, and assisted as a priest there from 1983 onwards.
  • 1947: The Lutheran Protestant Church started to ordain women as priests.
  • 1947: The Czechoslovak Hussite Church
    Czechoslovak Hussite Church
    The Czechoslovak Hussite Church is a Christian Church which separated from the Roman Catholic Church after World War I in former Czechoslovakia. It traces its tradition back to the Hussite reformers and acknowledges Jan Hus as its predecessor...

     started to ordain women.
  • 1948: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark started to ordain women.
  • 1949: The Old Catholic Church (in the U.S.) started to ordain women.
  • 1951: From January 1951 until 1953, Paula Ackerman served as Temple Beth Israel’s spiritual leader, conducting services, preaching, teaching, and performing marriages, funerals, and conversions. In so doing, she achieved the distinction of becoming the first woman to assume religious leadership of a mainstream American Jewish congregation, although she was never ordained.
  • 1952: Queen Elizabeth II becomes Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
  • 1955: In 1955 Betty Robbins, born in Greece, became the world's first female cantor when she was appointed cantor of the Reform congregation of Temple Avodah in Oceanside, New York, in July.
  • 1956: Maud K. Jensen was the first woman to receive full clergy rights and conference membership (in her case, in the Central Pennsylvania Conference) in the Methodist Church.
  • 1956: The Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained its first female minister, Margaret Towner.
  • 1957: In 1957 the Unity Synod of the Moravian Church declared of women's ordination "in principle such ordination is permissible" and that each province is at liberty to "take such steps as seem essential for the maintenance of the ministry of the Word and Sacraments;” however, while this was approved by the Unity Synod in 1957, the Northern Province of the Moravian Church did not approve women for ordination until 1970 at the Provincial Synod, and it was not until 1975 that the Rev. Mary Matz became the first female minister within the Moravian Church.
  • 1958: Women ministers in the Church of the Brethren were given full ordination with the same status as men.
  • 1959: The Reverend Gusta A. Robinette, a missionary, was ordained in the Sumatra (Indonesia) Conference soon after The Methodist Church granted full clergy rights to women in 1956. She was appointed District Superintendent of the Medan Chinese District in Indonesia becoming the first female district superintendent in the Methodist Church.
  • 1960: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden started ordaining women.
  • 1964: Addie Davis became the first Southern Baptist woman to be ordained. However, the Southern Baptist Convention stopped ordaining women in 2000, although existing female pastors are allowed to continue their jobs.
  • 1967: The Presbyterian Church in Canada started ordaining women.
  • 1967: Margaret Henrichsen became the first American female district superintendent in the Methodist Church.
  • 1970: The Northern Province of the Moravian Church approved women for ordination in 1970 at the Provincial Synod, but it was not until 1975 that the Rev. Mary Matz became the first female minister within the Moravian Church.
  • 1970: In 1970 Ludmila Javorova attempted ordination as a Catholic priest in Czechoslovakia by a friend of her family, Bishop Felix Davidek (1921–88), himself clandestinely consecrated, due to the shortage of priests caused by communist persecution; however, an official Vatican statement in February 2000 declared the ordinations invalid while recognizing the severe circumstances under which they occurred.
  • 1970: On November 22, 1970, Elizabeth Alvina Platz became the first woman ordained by the Lutheran Church in America, and as such was the first woman ordained by any Lutheran denomination in America. The first woman ordained by the American Lutheran Church, Barbara Andrews, was ordained in December 1970. On January 1, 1988 the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches merged to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which continues to ordain women. (The first woman ordained by the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, Janith Otte, was ordained in 1977.)
  • 1971: Joyce Bennett and Jane Hwang were the first regularly ordained priests in the Anglican Church in Hong Kong.
  • 1972: Freda Smith became the first female minister to be ordained by the Metropolitan Community Church.
  • 1972: Sally Priesand
    Sally Priesand
    Sally Jane Priesand is America's first ordained female rabbi, and the second ordained female rabbi in the world, after Regina Jonas.-Early life:...

     became the first female rabbi to be ordained in Reform Judaism, and also the first female rabbi in the world to be ordained by any theological seminary.
  • 1974: The Methodist Church in the United Kingdom started to ordain women again (after a lapse of ordinations).
  • 1974: Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
    Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
    Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is the first woman to have been ordained a rabbi in the Reconstructionist movement of Judaism. She was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, on May 19, 1974. She is also an author of many children's book on religious topics.-Youth and Early...

     became the first female rabbi to be ordained in Reconstructionist Judaism.
  • 1975: Dorothea W. Harvey became the first woman to be ordained by the Swedenborgian Church.
  • 1975: Barbara Ostfeld-Horowitz became the first female cantor in Reform Judaism.
  • 1975: In 1975, the Rev. Mary Matz became the first female minister in the Moravian Church.
  • 1975: Jackie Tabick
    Jackie Tabick
    Jacqueline "Jackie" Tabick is the Rabbi at North West Surrey Synagogue, a constituent of the Movement for Reform Judaism. She was the first female rabbi in Britain.-Early life and training:...

    , born in Dublin, became the first female rabbi ordained in England.
  • 1976: The Anglican Church in Canada ordained six female priests.
  • 1976: The Rev. Pamela McGee was the first female ordained to the Lutheran ministry in Canada.
  • 1976: Venerable Karuna Dharma became the first fully ordained female member of the Buddhist monastic community in the U.S.
  • 1977: The Anglican Church in New Zealand ordained five female priests.
  • 1977: Pauli Murray became the first African American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1977.
  • 1977: The first woman ordained by the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, Janith Otte, was ordained in 1977.
  • 1977: On January 1, 1977, Jacqueline Means became the first woman ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. 11 women were "irregularly" ordained to the priesthood in Philadelphia on July 29, 1974, before church laws were changed to permit women's ordination. They are often called the "Philadelphia 11". Church laws were changed on September 16, 1976.
  • 1978: Bonnie Koppell
    Bonnie Koppell
    Bonnie Koppell is the first female rabbi to serve in the U.S. military; she joined the army reserves in 1978 while a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was ordained in 1981. She later served in Operation Desert Storm and Operation...

     became the first female rabbi to serve in the U.S. military.
  • 1978: Mindy Jacobsen
    Mindy Jacobsen
    Mindy Jacobsen is the first blind woman to be ordained as a hazzan in the history of Judaism; she was ordained in 1978 by Hebrew Union College...

     became the first blind woman to be ordained as a cantor in the history of Judaism.
  • 1979: The Reformed Church in America started ordaining women as ministers. Women had been admitted to the offices of deacon and elder in 1972.
  • 1979:: Beth Israel Congregation of Chester County became the first synagogue in the United States to hire a woman, Linda Joy Holtzman, as senior rabbi.
  • 1980: Marjorie Matthews
    Marjorie Matthews
    Marjorie Swank Matthews was an American Bishop of the United Methodist Church. She was born 11 July 1916 in Onaway, Michigan....

    , at the age of 64, was the first woman elected as a bishop in the United Methodist Church.
  • 1981: Lynn Gottlieb
    Lynn Gottlieb
    Lynn Gottlieb, born April 12, 1949, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is an American rabbi in the Jewish Renewal movement . Gottlieb entered pulpit life at the age of 23 in 1973, as leader of Temple Beth Or of the Deaf in New York City. In 1981, she became the first woman ordained as a rabbi in the...

     became the first female rabbi to be ordained in the Jewish Renewal movement.
  • 1981: Kinneret Shiryon
    Kinneret Shiryon
    Kinneret Shiryon is the first female rabbi in Israel. She is the spiritual leader of Kehillat Yozma, Modi'in's Reform congregation, which she helped establish in 1997; Kehillat Yozma is the first non-Orthodox congregation in Israel to receive state funding for its synagogue building...

    , born in the United States, became the first female rabbi in Israel.
  • 1981: Ani Pema Chodron
    Pema Chödrön
    Pema Chödrön is a notable American figure in Tibetan Buddhism. A disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, she is an ordained nun, author, and teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage which Trungpa founded....

     is an American woman who was ordained as a bhikkhuni
    Bhikkhuni
    A bhikkhuni or bhikṣuṇī is a fully ordained female Buddhist monastic. Male monastics are called bhikkhus. Both bhikkhunis and bhikkhus live by the vinaya...

     (a fully ordained Buddhist nun) in a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism
    Tibetan Buddhism
    Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

     in 1981. Pema Chödrön was the first American woman to be ordained as a Buddhist nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
  • 1981: Karen Soria
    Karen Soria
    Karen Soria is the first female rabbi to serve in Australia, although she was born and ordained in the United States. She was originally from the Chicago area, and graduated from the HUC-JIR Reform Jewish seminary in 1981. She then became Australia's first female rabbi, serving with congregations...

    , born and ordained in the United States, became Australia's first female rabbi.
  • 1982: Nyambura J. Njoroge became the first female ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.
  • 1983: An Anglican woman was ordained in Kenya.
  • 1983: Three Anglican women were ordained in Uganda.
  • 1983: Elyse Goldstein
    Elyse Goldstein
    Elyse Goldstein is the first female rabbi in Canada, although she was born in the United States. Rabbi Goldstein is also the first woman to be elected as president of the interdenominational Toronto Board of Rabbis and president of the Reform Rabbis of Greater Toronto.-Youth and Early...

    , born in the United States and ordained in 1983, became the first female rabbi in Canada.
  • 1984: The Community of Christ
    Community of Christ
    The Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , is an American-based international Christian church established in April 1830 that claims as its mission "to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace"...

     (known at the time as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) authorized the ordination of women. They are the second largest Latter Day Saint
    Latter Day Saint movement
    The Latter Day Saint movement is a group of independent churches tracing their origin to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 14 million members...

     denomination.
  • 1985: According to the New York Times for 1985-FEB-14: "After years of debate, the worldwide governing body of Conservative Judaism has decided to admit women as rabbis. The group, the Rabbinical Assembly, plans to announce its decision at a news conference...at the Jewish Theological Seminary...". In 1985 Amy Eilberg
    Amy Eilberg
    Amy Eilberg is the first female rabbi ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, one of the academic centers and spiritual centers of Conservative Judaism.-Youth and early life:...

     became the first female rabbi to be ordained in Conservative Judaism.
  • 1985: The first women deacons were ordained by the Scottish Episcopal Church.
  • 1985: Judy Harrow
    Judy Harrow
    - Biography :Judy Harrow was born in the Bronx also known as Judith Harrow and has lived the majority of her life in New York City.- Education :Harrow graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1962. She then received a B.A. in American Government from Western College for Women in 1966. In...

     became the first member of CoG (Covenant of the Goddess, a Wiccan group) to be legally registered as clergy in New York City in 1985, after a five year effort requiring the assistance of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
  • 1986: Rabbi Julie Schwartz became the first female Naval chaplain in the U.S.
  • 1987: Erica Lippitz and Marla Rosenfeld Barugel became the first female cantors in Conservative Judaism.
  • 1987: Joy Levitt became the first female president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association.
  • 1988: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland started to ordain women.
  • 1988: Virginia Nagel was ordained as the first Deaf female priest in the Episcopal Church.
  • 1988: Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo
    Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo
    Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo is an enthroned tulku within the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. In the late 1980s, she gained international attention as the first Western woman to be named a reincarnate lama...

    , an American woman formerly called Catharine Burroughs, became the first Western woman to be named a reincarnate lama.
  • 1988: The Episcopal Church elected Barbara Harris as its first female bishop.
  • 1989: Einat Ramon, ordained in New York, became the first female native-Israeli rabbi.
  • 1990: Pauline Bebe
    Pauline Bebe
    Pauline Bebe is the rabbi of Communaute Juive Liberale, a Progressive Jewish congregation in Paris. She was the first female rabbi in France, and the first female rabbi to lead a synagogue there. France has only three women rabbis, Bebe, Célia Surget and Delphine Horvilleur.-Early life:Bebe was...

     became the first female rabbi in France, although she was ordained in England.
  • 1990: Penny Jamieson became the first female Anglican diocesan bishop in the world. She was ordained a bishop of the Anglican Church in New Zealand in June 1990.
  • 1990: Anglican women were ordained in Ireland.
  • 1992: Naamah Kelman, born in the United States, became the first female rabbi ordained in Israel.
  • 1992: In March 1992 the first female priests in Australia were appointed; they were priests of the Anglican Church in Australia.
  • 1992: Maria Jepsen became the world's first woman to be elected a Lutheran bishop when she was elected bishop of the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, but she resigned in 2010 after allegations that she failed to properly investigate cases of sexual abuse.
  • 1992: In November 1992 the General Synod of the Church of England approved the ordination of women as priests.
  • 1992: The Anglican Church of South Africa started to ordain women.
  • 1992: Rabbi Karen Soria
    Karen Soria
    Karen Soria is the first female rabbi to serve in Australia, although she was born and ordained in the United States. She was originally from the Chicago area, and graduated from the HUC-JIR Reform Jewish seminary in 1981. She then became Australia's first female rabbi, serving with congregations...

     became the first female rabbi to serve in the U.S. Marines, which she did from 1992 until 1996.
  • 1993: Rebecca Dubowe
    Rebecca Dubowe
    Rebecca Dubowe is the first deaf woman to be ordained as a rabbi in the United States. She was born in Los Angeles, and earned a B.A. in Jewish studies from the University of Judaism and an M.A. in Hebrew letters from Hebrew Union College. She was ordained in 1993 by the American Reform seminary...

     became the first Deaf woman to be ordained as a rabbi in the United States.
  • 1993: Valerie Stessin became the first female Conservative rabbi to be ordained in Israel.
  • 1993: Chana Timoner
    Chana Timoner
    Chana Timoner was the first female rabbi to hold an active duty assignment as a chaplain in the U.S. Army, which she began in 1993.. She was born in New Haven, Connecticut...

     became the first female rabbi to hold an active duty assignment as a chaplain in the U.S. Army.
  • 1993: Victoria Matthews was elected as the first female bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada; however she resigned in 2007, stating that “God is now calling me in a different direction”. In 2008, she was ordained as Bishop of Christchurch
    Christchurch
    Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the country's second-largest urban area after Auckland. It lies one third of the way down the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula which itself, since 2006, lies within the formal limits of...

    , becoming the first woman to hold that position.
  • 1993: Maya Leibovich became the first native-born female rabbi in Israel.
  • 1994: The first women priests were ordained by the Scottish Episcopal Church.
  • 1994: Rabbi Laura Geller became the first woman to lead a major metropolitan congregation, specifically Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills.
  • 1994: Indrani Rampersad was ordained as the first female Hindu priest in Trinidad.
  • 1994: On March 12, 1994, the Church of England ordained 32 women as its first female priests.
  • 1994: Amina Wadud
    Amina Wadud
    Amina Wadud is an American scholar of Islam with a progressive focus on Qur'an exegesis . As an Islamic feminist, she has addressed mixed-sex congregations, giving a sermon in South Africa in 1994, and leading Friday prayers in the United States in 2005...

    , born in the United States, became the first woman in South Africa to deliver the jum'ah khutbah, at the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town.
  • 1995: The Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Maryland, ordained three women in violation of the denomination's rules - Kendra Haloviak, Norma Osborn, and Penny Shell.
  • 1995: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark ordained its first female bishop.
  • 1995: Bea Wyler, born in Switzerland, became the second female rabbi in Germany (the first being Regina Jonas
    Regina Jonas
    Regina Jonas was a Berlin-born rabbi. In 1935, she became the first Jewish woman to be ordained as a rabbi .-Early life:She became orphaned from her father when she was very young...

    ),and the first to officiate at a congregation.
  • 1995: The Christian Reformed Church voted to allow women ministers, elders and evangelists. In 1998, the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) suspended the CRC's membership because of this decision.
  • 1995: In May 1995, Bola Odeleke was ordained as the first female bishop in Africa. Specifically, she was ordained in Nigeria.
  • 1996: Subhana Barzagi Roshi became the Diamond Sangha's first female roshi (Zen teacher) when she received transmission on March 9th, 1996, in Australia. In the ceremony Subhanna also became the first female roshi in the lineage of Robert Aitken
    Robert Baker Aitken
    Robert Baker Dairyu Chotan Aitken Roshi was a Zen teacher in the Harada-Yasutani lineage. He co-founded the Honolulu Diamond Sangha in 1959...

     Roshi.
  • 1997: Rosalina Rabaria became the first female priest in the Philippine Independent Church
    Philippine Independent Church
    The Philippine Independent Church, The Philippine Independent Church, The Philippine Independent Church, (officially the or the IFI, also known as the Philippine Independent Catholic Church or in Ilocano: Siwawayawaya nga Simbaan ti Filipinas (in in Kinaray-a/Hiligaynon: Simbahan Hilway nga...

    .
  • 1997: Christina Odenberg became the first female bishop in the Church of Sweden.
  • 1997: Chava Koster, born in the Netherlands and ordained in the United States, became the first female rabbi from the Netherlands.
  • 1998: The General Assembly of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai
    Nippon Sei Ko Kai
    The Nippon Sei Ko Kai , abbreviated as NSKK, or the Anglican Church in Japan, is the religious body in the Province of Japan of the Anglican Communion....

     (Anglican Church in Japan) started to ordain women.
  • 1998: The Guatemalan Presbyterian Synod started to ordain women.
  • 1998: The Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands started to ordain women.
  • 1998: On July 28, 1998, Ava Muhammad
    Ava Muhammad
    Ava Muhammad is a American Black Muslim. She is a prominent member of the Nation of Islam. She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, in 1975. She is a member of the New York Bar Association. A Lawyer, Minister and also the National Spokesperson for the Minister Louis Farrakhan and the...

     became the first female minister in the Nation of Islam
    Nation of Islam
    The Nation of Islam is a mainly African-American new religious movement founded in Detroit, Michigan by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in July 1930 to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African-Americans in the United States of America. The movement teaches black pride and...

    , heading Muhammad's Mosque 15 in Atlanta, Ga., one of the largest mosques in the country. In addition to administering day-to-day affairs there she was named Southern Regional Minister, giving her jurisdiction over Nation of Islam mosque activity in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and parts of Tennessee.
  • 1998: Some Orthodox Jewish congregations started to employ women as congregational interns, a job created for learned Orthodox Jewish women. Although these interns do not lead worship services, they perform some tasks usually reserved for rabbis, such as preaching, teaching, and consulting on Jewish legal matters. The first woman hired as a congregational intern was Julie Stern Joseph, hired in 1998 by the Lincoln Square Synagogue of the Upper West Side.
  • 1998: Nelly Shulman
    Nelly Shulman
    Nelly Shulman is the first female rabbi from Russia and was the first female rabbi in Belarus, having served as the chief reform rabbi of Minsk, Belarus. This makes her the first Russian-born woman to be a rabbi in the former Soviet Union. She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and received her...

    , born in Russia and ordained in England, became the first female rabbi from Russia and the first female rabbi in Belarus, serving as the chief reform rabbi of Minsk, Belarus.
  • 1998: Sherry Chayat, born in Brooklyn, became the first American woman to receive transmission in the Rinzai school of Buddhism.
  • 1998: In 1998 Kay Ward became the first female bishop in the Moravian Church.
  • 1998: After 900 years without such ordinations, Sri Lanka again began to ordain women as fully ordained Buddhist nuns, called bhikkhuni
    Bhikkhuni
    A bhikkhuni or bhikṣuṇī is a fully ordained female Buddhist monastic. Male monastics are called bhikkhus. Both bhikkhunis and bhikkhus live by the vinaya...

    s.
  • 1999: The Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil allowed the ordination of women as either clergy or elders.
  • 1999: The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) became the first large denomination to have a majority of female ministers. In April 1999, female ministers outnumbered their male counterpart 431 to 422.
  • 1999: Beth Lockard was ordained as the first Deaf pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
  • 1999: The first female bishop of the Czechoslovak-Hussite church was elected to a 7-year term of office in April 1999.
  • 1999: Tamara Kolton
    Tamara Kolton
    Tamara Kolton is the first rabbi ordained in Humanistic Judaism . She grew up attending the Birmingham Temple in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and has practiced Humanistic Judaism throughout her life...

     became the first rabbi of either sex (and therefore, because she was female, the first female rabbi) to be ordained in Humanistic Judaism.
  • 1999: Katalin Kelemen
    Katalin Kelemen
    Katalin Kelemen is the first female rabbi in Hungary, where she was born. She studied for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College in England, and was ordained in 1998. On March 7th, 1999, she was inducted as the rabbi of the Sim Shalom Progressive Jewish Congregation in Budapest, Hungary...

    , born in Hungary but ordained at Leo Baeck College
    Leo Baeck College
    Leo Baeck College is a rabbinical college and centre for Jewish education located in north London. As well as being the smallest academic college in England, it is also the largest Jewish Progressive University and Rabbinic College in Europe....

     in England, was inducted as the rabbi of the Sim Shalom Progressive Jewish Congregation in Budapest
    Budapest
    Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

    , Hungary, thus becoming the first female rabbi in Hungary.
  • 1999: Angela Warnick Buchdahl
    Angela Warnick Buchdahl
    Angela Warnick Buchdahl, born in Seoul, Korea, is the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a rabbi, and the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a hazzan , in all the world. She was ordained as a cantor in 1999 and ordained as a rabbi in 2001, with both ordinations done by...

    , born in Seoul, Korea, became the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a cantor in the world when she was ordained by HUC-JIR, an American seminary for Reform Judaism.
  • 2000: The Baptist Union of Scotland voted to allow their individual churches to make local decisions as to whether to allow or prohibit the ordination of women.
  • 2000: In July 2000 Vashti McKenzie was elected as the first female bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.
  • 2000: The Mombasa diocese of the Anglican Church in Kenya began to ordain women.
  • 2000: The Church of Pakistan ordained its first female deacons. It is a united church which dates back to the 1970 local merger of Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and other Protestant denominations.
  • 2001: Angela Warnick Buchdahl
    Angela Warnick Buchdahl
    Angela Warnick Buchdahl, born in Seoul, Korea, is the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a rabbi, and the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a hazzan , in all the world. She was ordained as a cantor in 1999 and ordained as a rabbi in 2001, with both ordinations done by...

    , born in Seoul, Korea, became the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a rabbi in the world; she was ordained by HUC-JIR, an American seminary for Reform Judaism.
  • 2001: Eveline Goodman-Thau became the first female rabbi in Austria; she was born in Austria but ordained in Jerusalem.
  • 2001: Deborah Davis became the first cantor of either sex (and therefore, since she was female, the first female cantor) in Humanistic Judaism; however, Humanistic Judaism has since stopped graduating cantors.
  • 2002: Sharon Hordes became the very first cantor in Reconstructionist Judaism. Therefore, since she was a woman, she became their first female cantor.
  • 2002: Rabbi Pamela Frydman became the first female president of OHALAH (Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal)
  • 2002: Avitall Gerstetter became the first female cantor in Jewish Renewal and the first female cantor in Germany.
  • 2002: The Danube Seven (Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger
    Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger
    Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger is a teacher and former Benedictine nun who was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church when she and six others were allegedly, though not canonically or validly, ordained as priests by an Independent Catholic Bishop in 2002, called herself a Roman Catholic priest...

    , Adelinde Theresia Roitinger, Gisela Forster
    Gisela Forster
    Gisela Forster is a German writer, teacher and catholic theologian.- Life :Forster was born in Munich to parents from Bavaria and Hungary. After school at the Elsa-Brändström-Gymnasium in Munich-Passing, Forster studied Catholic theology, philosophy, arts and architecture at the Technical...

    , Iris Muller, Ida Raming
    Ida Raming
    Ida Raming is a German author, teacher and Catholic theologian.- Life :After school Raming studied Catholic theology, philosophy and pedagogy at University of Munster and University of Freiburg. She finished university in 1973 and worked as a teacher in Germany...

    , Pia Brunner and Angela White
    Dagmar Braun Celeste
    Dagmar Ingrid Braun Celeste , is a counselor, clergywoman, and author. The former first lady of Ohio, she was married to former Ohio governor and U.S. ambassador Richard F...

    ), a group of seven women from Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

    , Austria
    Austria
    Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

    , and the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    , were ordained on a ship on the Danube
    Danube
    The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

     on 29 June 2002 by Rómulo Antonio Braschi
    Rómulo Antonio Braschi
    Rómulo Antonio Braschi is an Argentine Independent Catholic bishop, not in communion with the Vatican.Born in Buenos Aires, and ordained a Roman Catholic priest in August 1966, he was associated with members of the worker-priest movement in Argentina and the Movimiento de Sacerdotes para el Tercer...

    , an Independent Catholic bishop whose own episcopal ordination was considered 'valid but illicit' by the Roman Catholic Church
    Roman Catholic Church
    The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

    . The women's ordinations were not, however, recognised as being valid by the Roman Catholic Church. As a consequence of this violation of canon law and their refusal to repent, the women were excommunicated in 2003. Since then several similar actions have been held by Roman Catholic Womenpriests
    Roman Catholic Womenpriests
    Roman Catholic Womenpriests is an Independent Catholic international group that asserts a connection to the Catholic Church. They are descended from the Danube Seven, a group of women who claim to have been ordained as priests in 2002 by Rómulo Antonio Braschi, an independent bishop...

    , a group in favor of women's ordination in Roman Catholicism; this was the first such action.
  • 2002: Khenmo Drolma, an American woman, became the first Bhikkhuni
    Bhikkhuni
    A bhikkhuni or bhikṣuṇī is a fully ordained female Buddhist monastic. Male monastics are called bhikkhus. Both bhikkhunis and bhikkhus live by the vinaya...

     (fully ordained Buddhist nun) in the Drikung Kagyu
    Drikung Kagyu
    Drikung Kagyu or Drigung Kagyu is one of the eight "minor" lineages of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. "Major" here refers to those Kagyu lineages founded by the immediate disciples of Gampopa while "minor" refers to all the lineages founded by disciples of Phakmo Drupa , one of the three...

     lineage of Buddhism, traveling to Taiwan to be ordained.
  • 2002: A 55-year-old Buddhist nun, Varanggana Vanavichayen, became the first female monk to be ordained in Thailand. She was ordained by a Sri Lankan woman monk in the presence of a male Thai monk. Theravada scriptures, as interpreted in Thailand, require that for a woman to be ordained as a monk, the ceremony must be attended by both a male and female monk.
  • 2003: Ayya Sudhamma became the first American-born woman to receive bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka.
  • 2003: Sarah Schechter became the first female rabbi in the U.S. Air Force.
  • 2003: Sandra Kochmann, born in Paraguay, became the first female rabbi in Brazil.
  • 2003: Born in Canada and educated in England, Nancy Morris
    Nancy Morris
    Nancy Morris is a Reform rabbi and was appointed to Glasgow Reform Synagogue, formerly known as Glasgow New Synagogue, in October 2003, making her the first female rabbi in Scotland....

     became Scotland's first female rabbi in 2003.
  • 2003: Rabbi Janet Marder was named the first female president of the Reform Movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) on March 26, 2003, making her the first woman to lead a major rabbinical organization and the first woman to lead any major Jewish co-ed religious organization in the United States.
  • 2003: On February 28, 2003, Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, formerly known as Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, became the first Thai woman to receive full ordination as a Theravada nun. She was ordained in Sri Lanka.
  • 2003: In the summer of 2003, two of the Danube Seven
    Danube Seven
    The Danube Seven are a group of seven women from Germany, Austria and the United States who were ordained on a ship on the Danube on 29 June 2002 by Rómulo Antonio Braschi, an Independent Catholic bishop whose own episcopal ordination was considered 'valid but...

    , Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger
    Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger
    Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger is a teacher and former Benedictine nun who was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church when she and six others were allegedly, though not canonically or validly, ordained as priests by an Independent Catholic Bishop in 2002, called herself a Roman Catholic priest...

     (from Austria) and Gisela Forster
    Gisela Forster
    Gisela Forster is a German writer, teacher and catholic theologian.- Life :Forster was born in Munich to parents from Bavaria and Hungary. After school at the Elsa-Brändström-Gymnasium in Munich-Passing, Forster studied Catholic theology, philosophy, arts and architecture at the Technical...

     (from Germany), were ordained as bishops by several male bishops who are in good standing with the Vatican, and have remained anonymous. These ordinations were done in secret and are not recognised as valid by the Roman Catholic Church. At the death of the male bishops, their identities will be revealed. Since then several similar actions have been held by Roman Catholic Womenpriests
    Roman Catholic Womenpriests
    Roman Catholic Womenpriests is an Independent Catholic international group that asserts a connection to the Catholic Church. They are descended from the Danube Seven, a group of women who claim to have been ordained as priests in 2002 by Rómulo Antonio Braschi, an independent bishop...

    , a group in favor of women's ordination in Roman Catholicism; this was the first such action for female bishops.
  • 2004: Khenmo Drolma, an American woman, became the first westerner of either sex to be installed as an abbot in the Drikung Kagyu
    Drikung Kagyu
    Drikung Kagyu or Drigung Kagyu is one of the eight "minor" lineages of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. "Major" here refers to those Kagyu lineages founded by the immediate disciples of Gampopa while "minor" refers to all the lineages founded by disciples of Phakmo Drupa , one of the three...

     lineage of Buddhism, being installed as the abbot of the Vajra Dakini Nunnery in Vermont (America's first Buddhist nunnery) in 2004.
  • 2004: Barbara Aiello
    Barbara Aiello
    Rabbi Barbara Aiello was the first Rabbi of Synagogue Lev Chadash in Milan, Italy. Aiello is the first female Rabbi in Italy and has served as the head of Italy's first Reform synagogue.- Early life :...

    , born and ordained in the United States, became the first female rabbi in Italy.
  • 2004: In Canada, Yasmin Shadeer led the night 'Isha prayer for a mixed-gender (men as well as women praying and hearing the sermon) congregation. This is the first recorded occasion in modern times where a woman led a congregation in prayer in a mosque.
  • 2004: Genevieve Benay (from France), Michele Birch-Conery (from Canada), Astride Indrican (from Latvia), Victoria Rue (from the USA), Jane Via (from the USA), and Monika Wyss (from Switzerland) were ordained as deacons on a ship in the Danube
    Danube
    The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

    . The women's ordinations were not, however, recognised as being valid by the Roman Catholic Church. As a consequence of this violation of canon law and their refusal to repent, the women were excommunicated. Since then several similar actions have been held by Roman Catholic Womenpriests
    Roman Catholic Womenpriests
    Roman Catholic Womenpriests is an Independent Catholic international group that asserts a connection to the Catholic Church. They are descended from the Danube Seven, a group of women who claim to have been ordained as priests in 2002 by Rómulo Antonio Braschi, an independent bishop...

    , a group in favor of women's ordination in Roman Catholicism; this was the first such action for female deacons.
  • 2005: The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church
    The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church
    The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church is a mainline Protestant denomination also known by its non profit corporation name the Evangelical Protestant Church .The earliest Lutherans in America came from Dutch, Swedish and German stock...

    , (LEPC) (GCEPC) in the USA elected Nancy Kinard Drew as its first female Presiding Bishop.
  • 2005: Annalu Waller, who had cerebral palsy, was ordained as the first disabled female priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church.
  • 2005: Floriane Chinsky, born in Paris and ordained in Jerusalem, became Belgium's first female rabbi.
  • 2005: Sivan Malkin Maas was ordained in Michigan; she was the first Israeli to be ordained as a rabbi in Humanistic Judaism
    Humanistic Judaism
    Humanistic Judaism is a movement in Judaism that offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people and encourages humanistic and secular Jews to celebrate their Jewish identity by participating in Jewish...

    .
  • 2005: In April 2005, Raheel Raza
    Raheel Raza
    Raheel Raza is a Muslim Canadian journalist, author, public speaker, media consultant, anti-racism activist, and interfaith discussion leader. She lives in Toronto, Canada. She has been compared to Asra Nomani and Amina Wadud for her controversial views on Islam.She is the author of Their Jihad,...

    , born in Pakistan, led Toronto's first woman-led mixed-gender Friday prayer service, delivering the sermon and leading the prayers of the mixed-gender congregation organized by the Muslim Canadian Congress to celebrate Earth Day in the backyard of the downtown Toronto home of activist Tarek Fatah.
  • 2005: On July 1, 2005, Pamela Taylor, a Muslim convert since 1986, became the first woman to lead Friday prayers in a Canadian mosque, and did so for a congregation of both men and women. Pamela Taylor is an American convert to Islam and co-chair of the New York-based Progressive Muslim Union. In addition to leading the prayers, Taylor also gave a sermon on the importance of equality among people regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation and disability.
  • 2005: Elisa Klapheck, born in Germany, became the first female rabbi in the Netherlands.
  • 2005: On March 18, 2005, an American woman named Amina Wadud
    Amina Wadud
    Amina Wadud is an American scholar of Islam with a progressive focus on Qur'an exegesis . As an Islamic feminist, she has addressed mixed-sex congregations, giving a sermon in South Africa in 1994, and leading Friday prayers in the United States in 2005...

     (an Islamic studies professor at Virginia Commonwealth University) gave a sermon and led Friday prayers for a Muslim congregation consisting of men as well as women, with no curtain dividing the men and women. Another woman, Suheyla El-Attar, sounded the call to prayer while not wearing a headscarf at that same event. This was done in the Synod House of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York after mosques refused to host the event. This was the first time a woman led a mixed-gender Muslim congregation in prayer in American history.
  • 2006: Susan Wehle became the first American female cantor in Jewish Renewal in 2006; however, she died in 2009.
  • 2006: The Episcopal Church elected Katharine Jefferts Schori
    Katharine Jefferts Schori
    Katharine Jefferts Schori is the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States. Previously elected as the 9th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, she is the first woman elected as a primate of the Anglican Communion...

     as its first female Presiding Bishop, or Primate.
  • 2006: Merle Kodo Boyd
    Merle Kodo Boyd
    Merle Kodo Boyd is the first ever African-American woman to have received Dharma transmission in Zen Buddhism, a Dharma heir of Wendy Egyoku Nakao in the White Plum Asanga...

    , born in Texas, became the first African-American woman ever to receive Dharma transmission in Zen Buddhism.
  • 2006: For the first time in American history, a Buddhist ordination was held where an American woman (Sister Khanti-Khema
    Sister Khanti-Khema
    Sister Khema,Samaneri is an American-born novice Theravada Buddhist nun.Her ordination on September 7, 2006 was a surprise for American Buddhism, not just because the ceremony was officiated by an American Maha Thera Buddhist Monk, but also because this was the first such ordination in America,...

    ) took the Samaneri
    Samaneri
    A samaneri is a novice Buddhist nun, who lives according to the ten precepts. Male novices are called samaneras. A woman is to be ordained, according to Theravada tradition, by both a monk and a nun, first as a samaneri. After a year or at the age of 20, she will be ordained as a full bhikkhuni....

     (novice) vows with an American monk (Bhante Vimalaramsi
    Bhante Vimalaramsi
    Bhante Vimalaramsi is an American Buddhist monk. He is the Abbot and founder of the Dhammasukha Meditation Center in Annapolis, Missouri, USA.-Biography:...

    ) presiding. This was done for the Buddhist American Forest Tradition at the Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center in Missouri.
  • 2006: The Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church
    Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church
    Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church is a Christian denomination in south India. It has been established in 1919.Its headquarters is in Tamil Nadu. It has about 100,000 members.. The bishops has the title "Bishop of Tranquebar". It belongs to the Lutheran World Federation...

     ordained its first six female pastors.
  • 2006: Sharon Ballantyne was ordained as the first blind minister in the United Church of Canada.
  • 2007: The Worldwide Church of God, a denomination with about 860 congregations worldwide, decided to allow women to serve as pastors and elders. This decision was reached after several years of study. Debby Bailey became the first female elder in the Worldwide Church of God in 2007.
  • 2007: The current Dalai Lama
    14th Dalai Lama
    The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

     stated that the next Dalai Lama could possibly be a woman, remarking "If a woman reveals herself as more useful the lama could very well be reincarnated in this form".
  • 2007: Tanya Segal, born in Russia and ordained in Jerusalem, became the first full-time female rabbi in Poland.
  • 2007: Nerva Cot Aguilera became Latin America's first female bishop, as the bishop of the Episcopal Church of Cuba.
  • 2007: The synod of the Christian Reformed Church voted 112-70 to allow any Christian Reformed Church congregation that wishes to do so to ordain women as ministers, elders, deacons and/or ministry associates; since 1995, congregations and regional church bodies called "classes" already had the option of ordaining women, and 26 of the 47 classes had exercised it before the vote in June.
  • 2007: Myokei Caine-Barrett, born and ordained in Japan, became the first female Nichiren priest in her affiliated Nichiren Order of North America.
  • 2008: Mildred "Bonnie" Hines was elected as the first female bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
  • 2008: The Rev. Joaquina Filipe Nhanala was elected to oversee the Mozambique area for the United Methodist Church, thus becoming the first female United Methodist bishop in Africa.
  • 2008: Kay Goldsworthy became the first female bishop of the Anglican Church in Australia.
  • 2008: On 17 October 2008, Amina Wadud, born in the United States, became the first woman to lead a mixed-gender congregation in prayer in the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     when she performed the Friday prayers at Oxford's Wolfson College.
  • 2008: Rabbi Julie Schonfeld was named the new executive vice president of the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly, becoming the first female rabbi to serve in the chief executive position of an American rabbinical association.
  • 2009: The first Bhikkhuni ordination in Australia in the Theravada Buddhist tradition was performed in Perth, Australia, on 22 October 2009 at Bodhinyana Monastery. Abbess Vayama together with Venerables Nirodha, Seri, and Hasapanna were ordained as Bhikkhunis by a dual Sangha act of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis in full accordance with the Pali Vinaya.
  • 2009: The Evangelical Church in Germany
    Evangelical Church in Germany
    The Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of 22 Lutheran, Unified and Reformed Protestant regional church bodies in Germany. The EKD is not a church in a theological understanding because of the denominational differences. However, the member churches share full pulpit and altar...

     (EKD) elected Margot Käßmann
    Margot Käßmann
    Margot Käßmann is a Lutheran theologian and was Landesbischöfin of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover in Germany. On 28 October 2009, she was elected to lead the Evangelical Church in Germany, a federation of Protestant church bodies in Germany...

     as its first female Presiding Bishop, or Primate; she received 132 out of 142 votes. However, she chose to resign in 2010, after she was caught drink driving, although the Council of the EKD judged unanimously that it was not grounds for a resignation.
  • 2009: Alysa Stanton
    Alysa Stanton
    Alysa Stanton is an African-American Jew. On June 6, 2009, she was ordained as the first African-American female rabbi. In August 2009 she began work as a rabbi at Congregation Bayt Shalom, a small majority-white synagogue in Greenville, North Carolina, making her the first African-American rabbi...

    , born in Cleveland and ordained by a Reform Jewish seminary in Cincinnati, became the world's first black female rabbi.
  • 2009: Lynn Feinberg became the first female rabbi in Norway, where she was born.
  • 2009: The Rev Jana Jeruma-Grinberga became Britain's first female bishop in a mainstream British church, the Lutheran Church in Great Britain.
  • 2009: Tannoz Bahremand Foruzanfar, who was born in Iran, became the first Persian woman to be ordained as a cantor in the United States.
  • 2009: Wu Chengzhen became the first female Fangzhang (meaning principal abbot) in Taoism's 1,800-year history after being enthroned at Changchun Temple in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, in China. Fangzhang is the highest position in a Taoist temple.
  • 2010: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
    Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
    The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is the national church of Finland. The church professes the Lutheran branch of Christianity, and is a member of the Porvoo Communion....

     elected Irja Askola
    Irja Askola
    Irja Kaarina Askola born December 18, 1952 in Lappeenranta is the Bishop of Helsinki in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.The Diocese was established in 1959 by dividing the Diocese of Tampere. It covers only 1% of the country's territory, but contains 10% of the population. The diocese...

     of the Diocese of Helsinki
    Diocese of Helsinki
    The Diocese of Helsinki is a Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and the seat of the Bishop of Helsinki. Its cathedral is Helsinki Cathedral....

     as its first female bishop.
  • 2010: Sara Hurwitz
    Sara Hurwitz
    Sara Hurwitz is a Modern Orthodox Jewish spiritual leader who received ordination from Rabbi Avi Weiss. She is the "Rabba" at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in Riverdale, New York and the dean of Yeshivat Maharat in Riverdale, New York....

    , an Orthodox Jewish woman born in South Africa, was given the title of “rabbah” (sometimes spelled “rabba”), the feminine form of rabbi. In early 2009, she had completed the same coursework and exams required of male rabbinic candidates. The idea of ordaining a woman rabbi is highly controversial in Orthodox Jewish communities, so the title “maharat” was created on her behalf. It was derived from the acronym for “manhiga”, “hilchatit”, “ruchanit” and “toranit”, loosely translating to mean a leader in religious law and spiritual matters. The term, however, did not catch on. As of 2010, Rabbah Sara Hurwitz serves as the Dean of Yeshivat Maharat and serves on the rabbinic staff of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York.
  • 2010: The first American women to be ordained as cantors in Jewish Renewal after Susan Wehle's ordination were Michal Rubin and Abbe Lyons, both ordained on January 10, 2010.
  • 2010: The International Rabbinic Fellowship, a fellowship of about 150 Orthodox rabbis, adopted a resolution stating that properly trained Orthodox Jewish women should have the opportunity to serve as "teachers of Torah", "persons who can answer questions and provide guidance to both men and women in all areas of Jewish law in which they are well-versed", "clergy who function as pastoral counselors", "spiritual preachers and guides who teach classes and deliver divrei Torah and derashot, in the synagogue and out, both during the week and on Shabbatot and holidays", "spiritual guides and mentors helping arrange and managing life-cycle events such as weddings, bar- and bat-mitzvah celebrations and funerals, while refraining from engaging in those aspects of these events that Halakha does not allow for women to take part in" and "presidents and full members of the boards of synagogues and other Torah institutions"; the resolution does not, however, mention whether these women should or can be ordained or what titles they can hold.
  • 2010: In 2010, at the Orthodox Jewish synagogue Hebrew Institute of Riverdale
    Hebrew Institute of Riverdale
    Hebrew Institute of Riverdale is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in the Riverdale, Bronx neighborhood of New York City. Rabbi Avi Weiss has led the congregation since 1973....

    , Lamelle Ryman led a Friday-night service as a cantor would. No other Orthodox synagogue in the U.S. had ever before had a woman lead a Kabbalat Shabbat service, although Orthodox institutions like the Darkhei Noam prayer group in New York and the Shira Hadasha
    Shira Hadasha
    Kehillat Shira Hadasha in Jerusalem was founded in 2002 by a group of Jerusalem residents, including Tova Hartman. Its website describes its purpose as the creation of "a religious community that embraces our commitment to halakha, tefillah and feminism" in response to "the growing need of many...

     congregation in Jerusalem already did have women leading Kabbalat Shabbat. In addition, there had been a female-led Kabbalat Shabbat in a Washington Heights apartment in Manhattan — most of the worshippers came from the Yeshiva University
    Yeshiva University
    Yeshiva University is a private university in New York City, with six campuses in New York and one in Israel. Founded in 1886, it is a research university ranked as 45th in the US among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2012...

     community — in 1987 that drew little attention or opposition. In any case, Lamelle Ryan was not ordained as a cantor, and as of 2010 Orthodox Judaism does not ordain women as cantors.
  • 2010: Alina Treiger, born in Ukraine, became the first female rabbi to be ordained in Germany since World War II (the very first female rabbi ordained in Germany was Regina Jonas
    Regina Jonas
    Regina Jonas was a Berlin-born rabbi. In 1935, she became the first Jewish woman to be ordained as a rabbi .-Early life:She became orphaned from her father when she was very young...

    , ordained in 1935).
  • 2010: Sandra Kviat became Denmark's first female rabbi; she was ordained in England.
  • 2010: The first Buddhist nunnery in North America (Vajra Dakini Nunnery in Vermont), offering novice ordination in the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Buddhism, was officially consecrated.
  • 2010: Raheel Raza, born in Pakistan, became the first Muslim-born woman to lead a mixed-gender British congregation through Friday prayers.
  • 2010: Delegates of the Fellowship of the Middle East Evangelical Churches unanimously voted in favor of a statement supporting the ordination of women as pastors, during their Sixth General Assembly. An English translation of the statement reads, "The Sixth General Assembly supports the ordination of the women in our churches in the position of ordained pastor and her partnership with men as an equal partner in decision making. Therefore we call on member churches to take leading steps in this concern."
  • 2010: With the October 16, 2010, ordination of Margaret Lee, in the Peoria-based Diocese of Quincy, Illinois, women have been ordained as priests in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States.
  • 2011: Kirsten Eistrup, 55, became the first female priest in the Danish Seamen's Church in Singapore. She was also the Lutheran Protestant Church's first female pastor in Asia.
  • 2011: Eva Marie Jansvik became the first female priest in the Norwegian Seamen's Church in Singapore.
  • 2011: One third of the Catholic theology professors in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (144 people) signed a declaration calling for women’s ordination and opposing "traditionalism" in the liturgy.
  • 2011: Mary Whittaker became the first deaf person to be ordained into the Church of Scotland.
  • 2011: The Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf was allowed to ordain women as priests and appoint them to single charge chaplaincies. On June 5, 2011, Catherine Dawkins was ordained by the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, the Right Rev Michael Lewis, during a ceremony at St Christopher's Cathedral, Manama. This makes her the first female priest in the Middle East.
  • 2011: Stella Bentsi-Enchil, Alberta Kennies Addo and Susanna C. Naana Ackun were ordained as the first female priests of the Anglican Church of Ghana.
  • 2011: The Evangelical Presbyterian Church's 31st General Assembly voted to allow congregations to call women to ordained ministry, even if their presbytery (governing body) objects for theological or doctrinal reasons. Such congregations will be allowed to leave the objecting presbytery (such as the Central South, which includes Memphis) and join an adjacent one that permits the ordination of women.
  • 2011: The American Catholic Church in the United States, ACCUS, ordained their first woman priest, Kathleen Maria MacPherson, on June 12, 2011.

See also

  • Christian views of women
    Christian views of women
    Frank Stagg, PhD, was a Southern Baptist theologian, seminary professor, author, and pastor over a 50-year ministry career. He taught New Testament interpretation and Greek at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary from 1945 until 1964 and at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville,...

  • Deaconess
    Deaconess
    Deaconess is a non-clerical order in some Christian denominations which sees to the care of women in the community. That word comes from a Greek word diakonos as well as deacon, which means a servant or helper and occurs frequently in the Christian New Testament of the Bible. Deaconesses trace...

  • Episcopa Theodora
    Episcopa Theodora
    Episcopa Theodora is the inscription on a 9th century mosaic in the St. Zeno Chapel of the Church of St. Praxedis in Rome. Historically, Theodora was the mother of Pope Paschal I, who built the chapel for her while she was still alive....

  • Feminist theology
    Feminist theology
    Feminist theology is a movement found in several religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and New Thought, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective...

  • Great Mother
    Great Mother
    The Great Mother refers to the concept of the mother goddess, including:*Great Mother, in the Mahayana and Vajrayana refers to Prajnaparamita, and the wisdom of the Madhyamaka...

  • List of the first 32 women ordained as Church of England priests
  • List of women priests
  • Mariavite Church
    Mariavite Church
    The Mariavite Church is an independent Christian church that emerged from the Catholic Church of Poland at the turn of the 20th century. Initially, it was an internal movement leading to a reform of the Polish clergy. After a conflict with Polish bishops, it became a separate and independent...

  • Women as theological figures
    Women as theological figures
    Women as theological figures have played a significant role in the development of various religions and religious hierarchies.-Bahá'í Faith:In Bahá'i writings, the Holy Spirit is often described as the "Maid of Heaven"....

  • Women in the Bible

Further reading

  • Canon Law Society of America. The Canonical Implications of Ordaining Women to the Permanent Diaconate, 1995. ISBN 0-943616-71-9.
  • Davies, J. G. "Deacons, Deaconesses, and Minor Orders in the Patristic Period," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 1963, v. 14, p. 1-23.
  • Elsen, Ute E. Women Officeholders in Early Christianity: Epigraphical and Literary Studies, Liturgical Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8146-5950-0.
  • Grudem, Wayne
    Wayne Grudem
    Wayne A. Grudem is a Protestant theologian and author. He was born in 1948 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin and married Margaret White on June 6, 1969 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin...

    . Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of Over 100 Disputed Questions, Multnomah Press, 2004. 1-57673-840-X.
  • Gryson, Roger. The Ministry of Women in the Early Church, Liturgical Press, 1976. ISBN 0-8146-0899-X. Translation of: Le ministère des femmes dans l'Église ancienne, J. Duculot, 1972.
  • LaPorte, Jean. The Role of Women in Early Christianity, Edwin Mellen Press, 1982. ISBN 0-88946-549-5.
  • Madigan, Kevin, and Carolyn Osiek. Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8018-7932-9.
  • Martimort, Aimé Georges, Deaconesses: An Historical Study, Ignatius Press, 1986, ISBN 0-89870-114-7. Translation of: Les Diaconesses: Essai Historique, Edizioni Liturgiche, 1982.
  • McGrath, Elsie Hainz (Editor), Meehan, Bridget Mary (Editor), and Raming, Ida
    Ida Raming
    Ida Raming is a German author, teacher and Catholic theologian.- Life :After school Raming studied Catholic theology, philosophy and pedagogy at University of Munster and University of Freiburg. She finished university in 1973 and worked as a teacher in Germany...

     (Editor). Women Find a Way: The Movement and Stories of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-1602642232.
  • Miller, Patricia Cox. Women in Early Christianity: Translations from Greek Texts, Catholic University America Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8132-1417-3.
  • Nadell, Pamela. Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women's Ordination, 1889–1985, Beacon Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8070-3649-8.
  • Tisdale, Sallie. Women of the Way: Discovering 2,500 Years of Buddhist Wisdom, HarperOne, 2006. ISBN 978-0060598167
  • Weaver, Mary Jo. New Catholic Women, Harper and Row, 1985, 1986. ISBN 0-253-20993-5.
  • Wijngaards, John
    John Wijngaards
    Johannes Nicolaas Maria Wijngaards is a spiritual author and controversial Catholic theologian. Since 1977 he has been associated with public but loyal opposition to the authorities of the Catholic Church for their refusal to confer holy orders on women...

    , The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church. Unmasking a Cuckoo's Egg Tradition, Darton, Longman & Todd, 2001. ISBN ISBN 0-232-52420-3; Continuum, New York, 2001. ISBN 0-8264-1339-0.
  • Wijngaards, John
    John Wijngaards
    Johannes Nicolaas Maria Wijngaards is a spiritual author and controversial Catholic theologian. Since 1977 he has been associated with public but loyal opposition to the authorities of the Catholic Church for their refusal to confer holy orders on women...

    . Women Deacons in the Early Church: Historical Texts and Contemporary Debates, Herder & Herder, 2002, 2006. ISBN 0-8245-2393-8.**NO WOMEN IN HOLY ORDERS? The women deacons of the Early Church
  • Winter, Miriam
    Miriam Winter
    Miriam Winter was born June 2, 1933 in Łódź, Poland to Tobiasz Winter and Majta Laja Winter,...

    . Out of the Depths: The Story of Ludmila Javorova, Ordained Roman Catholic Priest, Crossroad General Interest, 2001. ISBN 978-0824518899.
  • Zagano, Phyllis. Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church, Herder & Herder, 2000. ISBN 978-0-8245-1832-5.
  • Zagano, Phyllis. "Catholic Women Deacons: Present Tense," Worship 77:5 (September 2003) 386–408.