Women and Religion - Events By Name
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Alma Bridwell White Becomes First Female Bishop

In 1918, Alma Bridwell White (1862-1946) was consecrated bishop of a Holiness sect she founded, becoming the first woman bishop of a Christian church.

Ann Lee Migrates to America

Ann Lee (1736-1784) brought a Christian sect known as the Shakers from England to the American colonies in 1774.

Antoinette Brown Ordained by Congregationalists

In 1853, Antoinette Brown (1825-1921), a woman's rights activist and abolitionist, became the first woman to be ordained by a Mainline Protestant church.

Barbara Harris Ordained as Anglican Bishop

The Right Rev. Barbara Harris (1930-present), an African-American Episcopalian, was consecrated the first female bishop in the Worldwide Anglican Communion in 1989.

Catholic Worker Movement

In 1933, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker Movement, a group of Catholic communities promoting social justice and hospitality toward the poor.

Early Mormon Women Found Female Relief Society

In 1842, four Mormon women organized the Female Relief Society to aid the poor and help women grow in the church.

Elisabeth Elliot Publishes Through Gates of Splendor

Elisabeth Elliot’s (1926-2015) book about the martyrdom of her husband and three other missionaries, Through Gates of Splendor (1957), is an evangelical classic.

Ellen White Helps Found Seventh-day Adventists

In 1863, Ellen G. White (1827-1915), was instrumental in founding the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which worships on Saturday and believes Christ's return is imminent.

Execution of Mary Dyer

On June 1, 1660, Mary Dyer (1611-1660), a friend of Anne Hutchinson, was executed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony for her Quaker faith.

Fanny Crosby Writes "Blessed Assurance"

Fanny Crosby’s "Blessed Assurance" (1873) became one of the most popular Christian hymns.

Female Ordination Controversy in Methodist Episcopal Church

In 1880, Anna Howard Shaw and Anna Oliver both were denied ordination rights by the Methodist Episcopal Church, stirring tensions regarding female ordination.

First Convent of Nuns in America

The first Catholic convent in America was founded in 1790 in Maryland by four contemplative Discalced Carmelite Nuns who came from a convent in Belgium.

First Ordained Southern Baptist Woman, Addie Davis

In 1964, Addie Davis became the first woman ordained in a Southern Baptist church.

Fox Sisters Contact a Spirit

America's Spiritualism movement, which believes spirits of the dead can communicate with the living through mediums, traces its roots to two young girls in 1848.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Publishes Uncle Tom's Cabin

In 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1886) spread a powerful message that slavery was evil and Christian love could eradicate it.

Lottie Moon Sent to China as a Southern Baptist Missionary

In 1873, Lottie Moon went to China as a Southern Baptist missionary at a time when sending unmarried women to the mission field was rare.

Margaret Towner Ordained in PCUSA

Margaret Towner's ordination in 1956 was the culmination of a long struggle for gender equality in the Presbyterian Church USA.

Marjorie Matthews Elected Bishop

Marjorie Matthews was elected bishop in the United Methodist church in 1980. She was the first female elected bishop of any mainline Christian church.

Mary Evans Thorne Appointed Class Leader

Mary Evans Thorne is believed to be the first woman appointed as a class leader in American Methodism around 1770.

Methodists Approve Full Ordination of Women

In 1956, the Methodist Church finally permitted the full ordination of women after years of resistance.

Oblate Sisters of Providence Founded

The Oblate Sisters of Providence, founded in Baltimore, Md., in 1829, was the first Roman Catholic congregation founded by women of African descent.

Olympia Brown Ordained By Universalist Church

In 1863, women's rights activist Olympia Brown (1835-1926) became the first woman to be ordained by the Universalist Church.

Ordination of Ruby Knapp Bixby by the Free Will Baptists

In 1846, the Freewill Baptists ordained Ruby Knapp Bixby, making her the first licensed female Baptist preacher.

Phoebe Palmer Writes The Way of Holiness

In 1843, Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874) first published The Way of Holiness, an important evangelical classic outlining a "shorter way" to ecstatic union with God.

Publication of Appeal to the Christian Women of the South

In 1836, Angelina Grimke published Appeal to the Christian Women of the South, which urged other southern Christian women to denounce slavery.

Publication of Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery

Maria Monk's controversial Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery (1836) depicted illicit encounters between priests and nuns, rape, infanticide, and murder.

Publication of Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee

Jarena Lee’s 1836 autobiography is one of the first extended life accounts of a black woman in America.

Ququnok Patke Prophesies

Ququnok Patke (c.1790s-1837) was a Kootenai Indian whose prophecies in the early 1800s made her legendary throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Rebecca Gratz Founds First Hebrew Sunday School

Under Rebecca Gratz's oversight, the first free Hebrew Sunday school opened in Philadelphia in 1838.

Sally Priesand Becomes First Female Rabbi

On June 3, 1972, Sally Priesand became the first female rabbi ordained in America -- and the first woman in Judaism to earn seminary ordination.

Sarah Dickson Becomes First Female Presbyterian Elder

On June 2, 1930, Sarah Dickson became the first female elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Sojourner Truth's Methodist Conversion

In 1843, Sojourner Truth converted to Methodism and found her calling as an important social activist for blacks as well as women.

The Trial of Margaret Meuse Clay

In 1770, local authorities trialed Margaret Meuse Clay for challenging the gender norms of colonial society and for preaching without a license.

Trial of Anne Hutchinson

In 1637, Anne Hutchinson was put on trial in Massachusetts for promoting "free grace" theology and challenging colonial authorities.

Ursuline Convent Riots

In 1834, an anti-Catholic mob burned down a convent and school run by Ursuline nuns in Charlestown, Mass.

Wesleyan College

In 1836, Wesleyan College was founded in Macon, GA. It is the oldest college for women in the world.

Woman's Christian Temperance Union

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was founded in November 1874 in Cleveland, Ohio, after a series of anti-alcohol protests by women.


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