Mary Michael Simpson, women’s ordination pioneer, remembered

The Rev Canon Mary Michael Simpson, OSH died Wednesday in Augusta GA. She was one of the first women ordained in the Episcopal Church and was the first woman to preach at Westminster Abbey.

“Canon Simpson addressed the issue [of women’s ordination] directly in a sermon at Westminster Abbey on April 2, 1978, in which she asserted that the church treated women like “second-class Christians.”

“Christian creativity for the present age must not depend on male leaders,” she told a gathering of about 700 people. “Woman’s contribution — from women properly trained and authorized — is essential.”

[…]Canon Simpson did not begin her career with a zeal for ecumenical equality. It was more than 20 years before she began advocating for women in the priesthood.

“My reading and thinking led me to the conclusion that there was no barrier to the ordination of women; it just had not been done,” she wrote in a chapter of “Yes to Women Priests,” a book supporting women’s ordination.

She joined the staff of St. John the Divine, where she began arguing for women in the clergy. While there, she studied psychotherapy and was installed as canon residentiary on Oct. 9, 1977, with the title “canon counselor” and responsibility for all counseling services.”

More here.

We Episcopalians give thanks for her life of service and witness in this church and within the wider Anglican Communion. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

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