Women and Religion - Events By Date
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Trial of Anne Hutchinson (11/7/1637)

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

Execution of Mary Dyer (6/1/1660)

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

Mary Evans Thorne Appointed Class Leader (1770)

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

The Trial of Margaret Meuse Clay (1770)

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

Ann Lee Migrates to America (1774)

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

First Convent of Nuns in America (1790)

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.

Ququnok Patke Prophesies (1809)

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

Oblate Sisters of Providence Founded (1829)

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

Ursuline Convent Riots (8/11/1834)

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

Publication of Appeal to the Christian Women of the South (1836)

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 (1836)

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 (1836)

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

Wesleyan College (12/23/1836)

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

Rebecca Gratz Founds First Hebrew Sunday School (1838)

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

Early Mormon Women Found Female Relief Society (1842)

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

Phoebe Palmer Writes The Way of Holiness (1843)

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.

Sojourner Truth's Methodist Conversion (1843)

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

Ordination of Ruby Knapp Bixby by the Free Will Baptists (7/1/1846)

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

Fox Sisters Contact a Spirit (3/31/1848)

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 (1852)

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.

Antoinette Brown Ordained by Congregationalists (9/15/1853)

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.

Ellen White Helps Found Seventh-day Adventists (1863)

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.

Olympia Brown Ordained By Universalist Church (1863)

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

Fanny Crosby Writes "Blessed Assurance" (1873)

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

Lottie Moon Sent to China as a Southern Baptist Missionary (7/7/1873)

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.

Woman's Christian Temperance Union (1874)

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

Female Ordination Controversy in Methodist Episcopal Church (1880)

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

Alma Bridwell White Becomes First Female Bishop (1918)

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.

Sarah Dickson Becomes First Female Presbyterian Elder (6/2/1930)

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

Catholic Worker Movement (5/1/1933)

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.

Methodists Approve Full Ordination of Women (1956)

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

Margaret Towner Ordained in PCUSA (10/24/1956)

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

Elisabeth Elliot Publishes Through Gates of Splendor (1957)

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.

First Ordained Southern Baptist Woman, Addie Davis (8/9/1964)

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

Sally Priesand Becomes First Female Rabbi (6/3/1972)

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

Marjorie Matthews Elected Bishop (7/17/1980)

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

Barbara Harris Ordained as Anglican Bishop (1989)

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


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