A Look Back

Women and Ministry?

In 1973, first-year women MDiv students discuss vocational plans

Recognizing that Harvard Divinity School is in the midst of celebrating the influence of women in its classrooms and beyond, we looked through issues of the Bulletin from the 1970s for material that might illuminate that time of crucial change. In an article entitled “Women and Ministry? First-Year Women MDiv Students Discuss Vocational Plans,” from an issue dated June 1973, we found these telling quotes:

“Allowing women to be ordained is the first, and a minor, step,” said one woman. “Getting people to really trust and accept a woman is the larger step, and is a long way off.”

Of the prospect of ordination in the Episcopal Church, another of the woman students said: “It would be a challenge. I think women could break the stereotyped image of the priest and develop a more humane role.”

Another speculated about women’s ministry more generally: “When women forget the anxiety and anger of being subordinate, who can say whether or not their style of ministry will become authoritarian.”

But in this same regard, another woman had a more positive view: “At times the barrage of new models of ministry has been frightening, but I have learned to be comfortable in the middle of such diversity . . . . Women are freer than men in terms of possibility of ministry. The models are much clearer, and much more rigid, for men.”

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