Celebrate, Review, Press Forward:
100 Years of Women in Baptist Ministry
'One hundred years ago' We are at the start of a significant series of centenaries. These mark changes in law or practice which moved forward equality for women. There are some very well-known names in the story of these changes but also many that are hidden but nonetheless significant. Now is a good time to collect their stories and celebrate them all. Click here to read some of these stories
Here are a few of the important dates:
17 September 1917
Constance Coltman was the first woman to be ordained into a mainstream denomination as a Congregational Minister. Constance studied theology at Mansfield College, Oxford – at that time a joint Congregational/Baptist college.
At the end of the Great War after a campaign begun in the middle of the 19th century, Parliament granted an extension of voting rights to women over 30. We remember the names of campaigners such as Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst. Not until 1928 were fully equal voting rights granted to women.
Edith Gates began ministry in pastoral charge at Little Tew and Cleveley, aged 35. Her ministry from that date was recognised by the Baptist Union.
Bristol Baptist College agreed to admit women for training as ministers.
Violet Hedger entered Regent's Park College in September, aged 19, after commendation by her church and interview/examination in June 1919, becoming the first woman to be trained for ministry at a Baptist College.
Edith Gates qualified through BU Examination, September and was enrolled as a probationer by the Ministerial Recognition Special Committee 7 November 1922.
Maria Living-Taylor was called to a joint pastorate at Linton Road, Barking with her husband John in 1920, ordained and added to the Probationers list, 7 November 1922.
A Special Committee re Admission of Women to Baptist ministry met 14 September 1925 and reported its conclusions to Baptist Union Council.
The Baptist Union Council on 9-10 Feb 1926 agreed that ‘it would be contrary to Baptist belief and practice to make sex a bar to any kind of Christian service’. There is no objection to women entering Baptist ministry but that there would need to be a separate list for women pastors with different rules for the financial and other practical implications of entering them onto the accredited list.
Violet Hedger was called to her first pastorate at Littleover Baptist Church, Derbyshire and ordained on 3 February.
First woman student admitted to Bristol Baptist College.
Next woman student at Regent's Park College – the Revd Dr Marie Isaacs – ordained 1962.
M H Tissington – First woman to train for ministry at Northern Baptist College.
Three women ministers listed in Baptist Union handbook.
Scottish Baptist Union agree on the right of churches to call any ‘person’.
Kate Coleman - First black woman minister to be appointed as President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
Catriona Gorton - First woman minister in pastoral charge in the Baptist Union of Scotland.
Lynn Green - First woman minister to be appointed General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
Approaching the centenary of the ordination of women as Baptist ministers is a good time to begin reflecting on how far we have come and where we need to go next.