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Celebration of first woman minister

Published on 11 May 2012

THE ordination of the first woman minister in Britain exactly 100 years ago is to be celebrated at a conference in Glasgow today.

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Olive May Winchester was the first woman to graduate from Glasgow University with a Bachelor of Divinity degree and was ordained in Parkhead on May 11, 1912.

The conference at the university will celebrate the achievement, with speakers from Britain and America discussing the theme of women in ministry. The day will be rounded off with a service in the Sharpe Memorial Church of the Nazarene in Parkhead, where Ms Winchester was ordained.

The event has been organised by Rev Dr Ian G Wills, senior pastor at the Parkhead church. He said yesterday: "At the time of Olive Winchester's ordination, the national church in Scotland was still very much in its tradition of men-only, which makes Olive Winchester a historic figure."

Ms Winchester, an American related to the inventor of the Winchester rifle, was already a graduate of Harvard when she attended Glasgow University. She was the first of three women who were ordained at the Parkhead church in the early 20th century.

One of the conference speakers, Dr Tom Noble, professor of theology at the Nazarene Seminary in Kansas City, said although the church at the time had only male ministers, the vast majority of the men in the General Assembly voted to approve Ms Winchester's appointment.

"Given that they would have been used to women as lay preachers, her ordination was a logical extension," said Dr Noble.

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