Today is the International Day of the Woman. The United Church of Christ (through its predecessor denominations and since it officially became the UCC) has contributed to the history (herstory) of women. I’d like to introduce you to some of our spiritual groundbreakers.
“The United Church of Christ honors the life of Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825-1921). In 1853 she was the first woman ordained to Christian ministry in a mainstream Protestant denomination in the United States. … Blackwell was a pioneer ordained woman minister, a relentless advocate for women’s rights, and a skilled science writer challenging masculine assumptions.” – “New Insights about Antoinette Brown Blackwell” by Davida Foy Crabtree, published on March 1, 2019.
Phyllis Wheatley was enslaved in Boston. That family was part of the Congregational Church in Boston. Here is a blurb from an article to tell about this extraordinary woman.
In 1773, Phillis Wheatley accomplished something that no other woman of her status had done. When her book of poetry, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, appeared, she became the first American slave, the first person of African descent, and only the third colonial American woman to have her work published.
Born in Africa about 1753 and sold as a slave in Boston in 1761, Phillis was a small, sick child who caught the attention of John and Susanna Wheatley. Purchased as a domestic servant for Susanna, the small girl was named after the ship that brought her to Boston, the Phillis, and her master, Wheatley. Susanna soon discovered that Phillis had an extraordinary capacity to learn. She relieved the child of most domestic duties and educated her, with assistance from her own daughter, Mary, in reading, writing, religion, language, literature, and history. – “Phyllis Wheatley: Her Life, Poetry, and Legacy” by Stephanie Sheridan, in a blog from the National Portrait Gallery.
Anne Holmes is a retired UCC clergy from the Potomac Association of the United Church of Christ. In 1977 the Rev. Anne Holmes became the first openly lesbian minister to be ordained in the United Church of Christ. Anne faithfully served churches in the Washington DC area and was an active member of Little River United Church of Christ in Annandale, Virginia. She is now happily retired in North Carolina and remains an advocate for LGBTQ rights.
And we are about to affirm the leadership of women once again. This is the official announcement from our National Setting concerning who will be nominated to serve as the next General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ.
The United Church of Christ is poised to make a historic choice. After a year-long process, the UCC Board voted on March 4 to nominate Associate General Minister, the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, for General Minister and President.
If elected by the General Synod this summer, Thompson would be the first woman — and the first woman of African descent — to lead the denomination.
Please continue your prayers for wisdom and discernment as the UCC prepares to vote on this historic nomination!
Let us celebrate the gifts of women on this International Women’s Day.