It Didn't All Begin with Ordination!
Women have been leaders in the Lutheran Church long before the issue of women’s ordination was ever considered. They served as missionaries, teachers, doctors, deaconesses and much more. This exhibit seeks to show the many and varied ways that women have played a leadership role in the Lutheran church, thereby paving a path that would lead to the acceptance of women as ordained ministers.
It would be nearly impossible to have all the facets of women’s contributions to the history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America depicted in one display. Our hope is that this exhibit will provide both exemplary and typical examples of women’s accomplishments. Some of the stories told will be very familiar to some, while others will be totally new. We hope viewers will be stimulated and excited to discover more about women’s contributions to the history of our church in congregations, synods, churchwide activities and institutional settings.
In considering this exhibit, the starting point was the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women in North America (1970- 1990). However, as the National Archives motto indicates, “What is past is prologue,” so that an understanding of the history of women in the American Lutheran church prior to 1970 is essential to the understanding of why 1970 became a reality.
This exhibit was assembled in 1990, utilizing the resources of the ELCA Archives by Rev. Thomas C. Rick, ELCA Assistant Archivist, and Elisabeth Wittman, Director for Archives and Chief Archivist.
The ELCA Archives also gratefully acknowledges the essential assistance of the following people or organizations:
• Mary D. Pellauer, Coordinator for Research and Study, ELCA Commission for Women
• Solveig Swendseid, Oral History Project Coordinator, ELCA Division for Global Mission
• Mary House, ELCA Management Services
• Alpha Ekstrom, ELCA Office of the Secretary
• Rev. Julie Ryan, Glen Ellyn, Illinois
• Joan R. Olson, Archivist Emerita, St. Olaf College, Northfield Minnesota
• Paul A. Daniels, Archivist, ELCA Region 3 and Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota
• John E. Peterson, Curator, Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia
• Nancy Miller, Assistant, Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia
• Joel A. Thoreson, Reference Archivist, ELCA
• Rev. Michelle L. Miller, Director for Women in Leadership and Ministry, ELCA Commission for Women
• Karen Dersnah, Web Developer, ELCA Department for Communication
• Suzanne Hequet, Archives Assistant, ELCA Region 3 and Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota
• Jeff Sauve, Associate Archivist, St. Olaf College
• The Lutheran
• The ELCA Department for Communication
• St. Olaf College Archives
• Luther Seminary Archives
• Rev. Asha George-Guiser
• L. DeAne Lagerquist
• Rev. Richard W. Solberg
• Rev. Frederick S. Weiser