“You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” –John 15:16
Yesterday at our Wisconsin Annual Conference service of ordination, the eight persons ordained Elders in Full Connection were all women. While that was not necessarily intentional, it did have significance. The year of 2016 marks the 60th anniversary of women having full clergy rights in The United Methodist Church.
John Wesley, our founder of Methodism authorized women to preach back in the late 1700’s, but it was not until 1956 that The Methodist Church granted full clergy rights to women, with Maud Keister Jensen being the first to receive such rights. Through the years, women achieved milestones such as Anna Howard Shaw acquiring a local preacher’s license in The Methodist Episcopal Church in 1873, but being refused ordination rights in 1880. Then, in 1980 Marjorie Matthews was the first woman elected Bishop in The United Methodist Church and served the Wisconsin area for four years.
Yesterday at the Annual Conference, Mao Vang Her was among those eight ordained Elder and she becomes the first Hmong woman ever elected Elder in The United Methodist Church.
God truly is the one who chooses and calls us into ministry as ordained clergy. I am thankful for the 60 years women have been ordained in full connection and for the many, many women who were living out their call to ministry for the centuries before 1956. I also look forward to the day when The United Methodist Church will ordain in full connection all those whom God chooses and calls including our sisters and brothers in the LBGT community that are now refused that right.
May we celebrate and also continue to build relationships that will allow all those who are called and chosen by God to bear fruit and strengthen the body of Christ.