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Topic: Women in Leadership

As preachers, leaders, teachers, missionaries, organizers, women have shaped the history of the Methodist Church. In their work with the poor, vulnerable and disenfranchised, church women have initiated important social and political reform.

In the Methodist tradition, women were ordained as ministers as early as the late 19th century, and in 1956 the Methodist Church, a  predecessor body of The United Methodist Church, granted women full clergy rights. Women now make up approximately 25% of clergy in The United Methodist Church.

We invite you to explore the inspiring stories of women who have made important contributions to the life of the church both past and present as well as resources to help nurture your own participation and witness as a church leader.

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Methodists Ann and Anna Jarvis are credited with creating Mother's Day in the U.S. Courtesy: Historic St. George's UMC.

Methodist History: The Founding Mothers of Mother’s Day

Two women created the holiday that falls on the second Sunday in May in the U.S. but do you know how, and why, they did it? View

Women immigrants who traveled alone were often at risk when they arrived at Ellis Island in the late 19th century. Public domain image.

Methodist History: Welcoming Women Immigrants

In Women's History Month, meet Alma Mathews, whose mission field was Ellis Island. She and others offered a safety net for women traveling alone. View

The Rev. Molly Simpson confirms a young church member. From story in Interpreter Magazine. Photo courtesy of Molly Simpson.

Women church planters reach new disciples

'We were ready to take risks, to try new things, and if they didn't work, we made the changes necessary.' Interpreter Magazine profiles two female pastors. Read More

Participants raise their hands in praise during worship at the United Methodist Women's Assembly, 2014. Photo by Mike DuBose, United Methodist News Service.

Ideas to Celebrate Women’s History Month

Find articles for discussion, hymns by and about women, and more about ways we define and experience God differently. Read More

The Rev. Qianli Jiang delivers the sermon during worship at Mu’en Church in Shanghai, China. Established by Methodist missionaries in 1887, the church formerly was known as the Moore Memorial Church. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Women’s History Month from the pulpit

Sermon preparation notes from GCSRW for March lectionary texts illuminate God’s word through the experiences of women. Read More

Marjorie Swank Matthews, first woman bishop of The United Methodist Church, 1980. Photo courtesy Archives and History.

Women of Distinction

From the first woman approved to preach the gospel at annual conference to the first female bishop, these women paved the way for today's leaders. Read More