The Kansas District of The Wesleyan Church celebrated the 150th anniversary of the ordination of Rev. Mary Will, the first Wesleyan women minister to be ordained in the Church. The Center for Women in Ministry (CWM) hosted the celebration at the July 22, 2011 annual conference of the Kansas District, held at Central Christian College in McPherson, Kansas. Rev. Will was ordained in 1861.

“The Wesleyan Church has led the way in affirming the role of women in ministry. One of her historic founders, the Reverend Luther Lee, preached the sermon for the ordination of Antoinette Brown, the first woman to be fully ordained in the United States. Within The Wesleyan Church itself, the Reverend Mary A. Will holds the distinction of being the first woman ordained to the ministry . . . .

Across the intervening 150 years since Mary Will’s ordination, hosts of women called by God have served in the ministries of the Church. Today ordained women serve in ministerial leadership as pastors, staff ministers, church planters, missionaries, professors in the religion divisions of our schools, administrators, and even in the church’s highest office, as General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church . . . . ” *

In the Kansas District, there are eight ordained women currently serving in ministry leadership, three retired ordained women, five licensed women ministers, and nine women ministerial students. Many of the women gathered together at the celebration table at the conference.

Pictured from left to right: Misti Rothfuss, Joy Rothfuss, Rutila Cruz, Tamiko Bourland, partly hidden is Rev. Brenda Wahl, Rev. Diane Schlegel, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon (General Superintendent), Cheryl Denning, partially hidden is Linda Emig, Rev. Deb Kluttz, partially hidden Marcella Hamel, Rev. Jessica Swisher, and Rev. Barb Bennett.

For more information about the Center for Women in Ministry, visit their Facebook page or to learn more about the history of women in ministry and CWM, visit the resource page on their website.

*Excerpted from “Celebrating 150 Years of Women in Ministry in The Wesleyan Church”, courtesy of the Center for Women in Ministry