The Methodist Church in Great Britain celebrates 50 years of women’s ordination as presbyters

The Methodist Church in Britain is proud to mark the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women as ministers (presbyters). Although women were permitted to become deacons in the Methodist Church from 1890, they were not ordained as presbyters until 2 July 1974 at the Methodist Conference in Bristol.

25 June 2024

The anniversary will be celebrated at the Methodist Conference which is this year taking place in Leeds. A specially written prayer will be included during the Sunday service at the Conference and a new short film featuring four female ministers will be released. The Preacher in the Presbyteral Session is the Revd Ruth Gee, a former President of the Conference (2013). She was invited to preach by the current President Gill Newton to mark the anniversary. The bible that was presented on the 40th anniversary will be on display throughout the Conference.

The film shares the experiences of past Presidents the Revd Sonia Hicks and the Revd Michaela Youngson along with the Revd Kathryn Stephens and the Revd Kan Yu who talk about their calling to the ministry as well as the challenges they faced and their work now. A preview can be seen here.

Revd Sonia Hicks says, "Despite the lows, I remain deeply grateful that this Methodist Church allows me to exercise this calling to ministry. I have ministered in different countries and met amazing people. It continues to be a great honour and privilege."

Revd Kathryn Stephens says, “There is never a dull moment in ministry! The challenges are wide and varied, some difficult and painful, others filled with wonderful joy and opportunity. Through the highs and lows of ministry, I try to remember my calling, be deeply rooted in Jesus and seek the strength of God in all things.”

Revd Kan Yu says, “I am compassionate about nurturing and valuing the diverse gifts and heritage of God’s people to build up Christ’s body with love and justice to serve the present age. I am keen to find God in all things and enable others to discern God’s call upon them.”

Methodist ministers are being asked to share their memories for the anniversary, which will be featured on the Methodist Church website.

Since 1974, 10 women presbyters have been elected as President of the Conference and 6 of them over the past 10 years – Revd Loraine Mellor in 2017, Revd Michaela Youngson in 2018, Revd Dr Barbara Glasson in 2019, Revd Sonia Hicks in 2021, Revd Gill Newson in 2023 and Revd Helen Cameron in 2024.

The full list of women ordained in 1974 is:

Anne Bradfield Beth, Bridges Kathleen Burgess, Margaret Butler, Kitty Foster, Irene Gibbs, Joy Hale Elizabeth Hodgkiss, Mary Holliday, Marjorie Hopp, Jennifer Lunn, Marjorie Maltby, Irene Morrow, Clare Powers, Kathleen Share, Elsie Smith and Eileen Wragg.