Crescent Hill Baptist Church

History of "Women in Ministry"

Timetable of events concerning ordination of women to ministry


(assembled by John Arnett and Reba Cobb)
(Some of the chronologic notes below come from a chronology Sarah Frances Anders put together for the first issue of Folio in June 1983. These notes are indicated by bracketed [Folio]. Women who were or later became members of CHBC have their names printed in bold)
Many accounts of Biblical women
Many women nuns and mystics in the Catholic Church

1573 -- Macyken Wens .. first of some 525 Anabaptist women martyred for preaching.
1853 -- Antoinette Brown, Congregationalist, first American Clergywoman; ordained in Baptist church. [Folio]

1859 -- Phoebe Parker *, one of the founders of the Holiness Movement, published Promise of the Father, supporting the Biblical right of women to preach

1963 -- World Council of Churches opposes sex discrimination in work of the church.  80 Protestant denominations (large and small) now officially ordain women (Benson Landis, Religion in the U.S.) [Folio]

1964 -- Addie Cox first SBC ordained woman clergywoman [Folio]

1969, Feb -- Faith Baptist Church in Georgetown became the first SBC church in Kentucky to ordain women.  One of the two ordained was Mrs. Wallace Williams who had been a member years earlier at CHBC.  By 1973 four more women had been ordained as deacons.

1971, Sep -- Dr. John Claypool, a strong advocate for racial civil rights in the 60’s left Crescent Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) and became pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Ft. Worth.  During his pastorate, both Reba Cobb and her husband, Dwight, had served as Youth Ministers.

1971, Nov -- Dottie Graves Dinwiddie (later Cannan Hyde and older sister of Jenny Graves Weisz) asked in the CHBC business meeting if the by-laws could be changed to allow women to be ordained as deacons. 

1972, Mar -- CHBC voted overwhelmingly (139 for, 36 against) to allow eligible women to be elected as deacons.
1973, Jan -- Three women ordained as deacons (Betty Cook, Jane Kent, Gaga Woodward).    This action occurred after Dr. Claypool left CHBC in Sept 1971 to become pastor of Broadway Baptist in Ft. Worth.  A few weeks following the ordination The Courier-Journal printed an article about the event; the three women refused to be photographed saying that they preferred to play down their role as women and hoped they were not elected because we are women but because we have a committment to serve.

1973, Dec -- Dr. John Claypool, now pastor at Broadway Bapt, addressed the deacons on Dec 10, 1973 and brought a request from a church member named Jeanette Zachry that she be ordained to the ministry. The deacons approved this request unanimously, and Zachry was ordained to the ministry on January 27, 1974.  This was an ordination to the ministry not to be a deacon.
1973 -- Norman Letsinger’s dissertation at SBTS, The Women’s Liberation Movement:  Its Implications for the Southern Baptist Convention. [Folio]
1974 -- Christian Life Commission (CLC) seminar at Glorietta, NM, Christian Liberation and Women in the Church. [Folio]
1975, June  --  Dr. Claypool preached a sermon at Broadway Baptist Church in Ft.Worth entitled, The Bible and Women.

1975, November -- The deacons at Broadway Bapt in Ft. Worth took a straw poll of the congregation asking the question, Should Broadway Baptist Church elect eligible women to the Board of Deacons?  Only 50.1% agreed, and the deacons chose to wait.  Eventually, in 1981, the church added women to the diaconate. The affirmation was still controversial. Six male deacons resigned, and several families left the church in protest. [from the chapter on Broadway Baptist Church in Claypool, 2022]

1976 -- Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), Louisville, KY., J-Term – Women.s Liberation and Women in the Church. [Folio]
1977 -- First CLC Distinquished Service Award to a woman. [Folio]

1978 -- Consultation on Women, 300 representatives, SBC, meet in Nashville.
 Frank and Evelyn Stagg’s Women in the World of Jesus  [Folio]

1979 -- Leon McBeth Women in Southern Baptist Life; an estimated 75 ordained SBC women. [Folio]

- 1979, fall -- CHBC’s First Women’s Retreat

1980 -- c.110 ordained SBC clergywomen [Folio]

1981 -- Broadway Baptist Church in Ft. Worth voted to ordain women as deacons. [from Claypool, ed by Weaver, 2022]

1981 -- c.150 ordained SBC clergywomen [Folio]
(The following notes are copied from the BWIM website and I have arranged the paragraphs in a timeline order.  There are some supplemental notes that Reba Cobb provided which are enclosed in [brackets])
1982, June -- the Woman Missionary Union (WMU), in response to the growing needs of Southern Baptist women serving in all areas of ministry, sponsored a Women in Ministry Dinner. The dinner was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, just prior to the SBC annual meeting. Sarah Frances Anders presented a paper on the status of women in ministry, and she concluded her remarks by calling for the formation of a network of fellowship and support for Baptist women ministers.
1982, October -- at a conference on Issues Affecting Women in Charlotte, North Carolina, nine Southern Baptist women gathered to discuss the need for a formal organization for women ministers. Following the discussion, Nancy Hastings Sehested presented a report that called for national and regional conferences to be planned for Southern Baptist women ministers and for a newsletter to be produced and disseminated.

1982, December -- After this meeting, Sehested conferred with numerous Southern Baptist women and consulted with influential Southern Baptist leaders. Her work resulted in nine women and men meeting in December at the offices of the SBC CLC. As a result of the meeting, the CLC agreed to initiate a new program that would encourage and support women ministers, and the commission gave the responsibility for this new work to staff member Lela Hendrix. Those gathered also concluded that a gathering for Baptist women ministers should be held prior to the June 1983 SBC meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To organize that gathering, Anders, Reba Cobb, Anne Thomas Neil, Sehested, and Carolyn Weatherford called for a planning meeting on March 20-21, 1983, in Louisville, Kentucky.
1983, March 21 -- Thirty-three women attended that March meeting: Becky Albritton (OH); Pat Ayres (TN); Pat Bailey (KY); Linda McKinnish Bridges (KY); Harriett Clay (NY); Reba Sloan Cobb (KY); Jeni Cook (TX); Anne Davis (KY); Pearl DuVall (GA); Velma Farrell (NC); Nancy Foil (KY); E. Jo Heiliger (OK); Lela Hendrix (TN); Margaret Holcomb (TX); Cindy Harp Johnson (KY); Molly Marshall-Green (KY); June McEwen (KY); Barbara McNeir (VA); Karen Conn Mitcham (KY); Anne Thomas Neil (NC); Carol Noffsinger (KY); Brenda Paddleford (NC); Betty McGary Pearce (KY); Nina T. Pollard (KY); Verna Quirin (IA); Inez Register (SC); Nancy Hastings Sehested (GA); Linda Stack (NC); Evelyn Stagg (MS); Susan Taylor (GA); Lynda Weaver-Williams (KY); Carolyn Weatherford (AL); and Jenny Graves Weisz (NC).
[The evening prior to the March 21, meeting 30 members of this group of women gathered at the home of Reba Cobb for introductions and fellowship. The formal meeting took place the next day at Crescent Hill Baptist Church in the second floor 201 classroom. – Cobb]
At the meeting, the women participated in times of fellowship and worship, and they listened to an address by Sehested titled Southern Baptist Women in Ministry: Vision, Goal, Strategy, and Tactics. During a business session, Cobb and McGary presented a proposal that called for the creation of a Center for Women in Ministry, which would provide a newsletter, counseling, and resume services. At that same business meeting, a taskforce was formed to plan for the June meeting.
1983, May -- This taskforce, which included Anders, Cobb, Davis, Hendrix, Neil, Sehested, Weatherford, and Weisz, met in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 5, 1983 at the WMU building. Davis was elected moderator, and Cobb was elected recorder. Together the group composed a purpose statement and planned the June meeting.

1983, June -- Seventy-five people attended the first meeting of WIM, SBC, as the organization would be called. Davis convened the two-day meeting, announcing that this organization should be independent and should speak to its own needs and not be tied to an agency of the SBC. The theme of the meeting was We Have This Treasure, based on 2 Corinthians 4:7-12.

1983, June -- The same month in which this first gathering took place, the Center for Women in Ministry, located at Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, published the first issue of Folio: A Newsletter for Southern Baptist Women in Ministry. Cobb and McGary served as the editors. [other editors:  Mary Zimmer, et al]  The articles and information included in the newsletter centered on the June 1983 meeting and on the subsequent developments, including the formation of state groups for women in ministry. Soon after the June 1983 meeting, Southern Baptist women ministers began to organize on the state level. Women in Ministry, North Carolina was formed in the fall of 1983. Similar groups were soon meeting in Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas.

1983, October -- The national groups steering committee met at Dogwood Hill Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 21, 1983. During a five-hour meeting, they elected Neil, chair; Weaver-Williams, secretary; and Griffis-Woodberry, treasurer.

1984 -- Highland Baptist Church in Louisville voted to ordain women as deacons. [Arnett]

1984, June -- On June 9-10, 1984, at the second gathering of Southern Baptist women ministers, 250 women and men of all ages and all areas of ministry attended. The meeting was convened by Neil, and the speakers, Weaver-Williams, co-pastor, Goshen Baptist Church, Goshen, Kentucky, and Elizabeth Barnes, a recent Ph.D. graduate in theology from Duke University, focused on the theme “Exercising Our Gifts.” The meeting’s preacher was Susan Lockwood Wright, pastor, Cornell Avenue Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois.

1984, June -- In the days immediately following this second gathering, messengers at the SBC meeting voted to adopt a resolution titled On Ordination and the Role of Women in Ministry. The intent of the resolution was to discourage Southern Baptist women from pursuing ordination and to pressure Southern Baptist churches into refusing ordination to women. The effect of the resolution, however, was that many women and many churches became even more committed to their belief that God calls both women and men into ministry

1986, June -- At the fourth gathering, in June 1986 meeting, participants voted to rename the organization, changing the name from WIM, SBC to Southern Baptist Women in Ministry.

1987, June -- SBWIM meeting, Sarah Frances Anders presented a statistical report, which confirmed at least 460 clergywomen in the SBC, including 18 pastors, more than 36 associate pastors, 4 associational missionaries, and more than 20 campus ministers. Almost half of the women were ordained and were serving in Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky.

1990, June -- Two years later, just prior to the 1990 SBC meeting in New Orleans, more than 500 people attended the SBWIM annual gathering. During the business session, participants approved a merger of SBWIM with the Center for Women in Ministry in Louisville.
1995, June -- The 1995 SBWIM annual meeting was highlighted by the historic vote to change the name of the organization from SBWIM to Baptist Women in Ministry. The vote was 63-1 in favor of the name change.

1995, November -- At a revisioning retreat held in Little Rock, Arkansas, in November of 1995, the BWIM board of directors discussed an offer from Central Baptist Theological Seminary to move the offices and archives of BWIM to Kansas City, Kansas.

1996, June -- In 1996, the organization, after expressing much gratitude to Crescent Hill Baptist Church for so generously housing and supporting BWIM, moved the offices to Kansas City. [end of the copied portion from the BWIM website]
In the years since 1973 sixty-three women at CHBC were ordained as deacons with 28 or so still active in the church as of 2023. There would have been even more ordained but in about 2004 CHBC opted for a mission model with a Church Council rather than an active Deacon Board. No deacons have been elected since 2003, but many women have served on the Church Council since its inception, often serving as chairpersons of the Council.
2016 -- Mera Cossey Corlett, a member or CHBC, was called to become the pastor of Oklalona Baptist Church in Louisville.

2011 -- Greg Pope, Crescent Hill’s tenth installed pastor left, and Andrea Woolley, Jason Crosby (and Bill Johnson for a year) became eleventh, twelveth, and thirteenth installed co-pastors.  Thus, Andrea Woolley, who had been the Minister of Children since 2008, became the first woman pastor or co-pastor of Crescent Hill Baptist Church.

2022, Oct -- 27 women from CHBC attended the 43rd annual Women’s Retreat at Clify Falls, IN.

2023, March -- The Southern Baptist Convention "kicked out" the Saddleback Church in California and Fern Creek Baptist Church in Louisville (and others) because they had women ministers, pastors, and preachers.

*Phoebe Parker:
It was considered a scriptural mandate until the late 1800s for women to keep silence in the churches (1 Cor. 14:34).  Phoebe Palmer played a major role in changing this.  In 1859, she published a book titled The Promise of the Father, defending women’s rights to preach.  Her argument was primarily based upon the prophecy in Joel 2:28-29, quoted by the Apostle Peter in his Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:18), in which he proclaimed that in the New Covenant both men and women would prophesy (preach).  This became the principal scriptural justification for women preachers throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
            The Salvation Army, founded in 1854 by William and Catherine Booth, made notable inroads for women to become ministers or evangelists.  Mrs. Booth was a powerful and popular preacher.  From its beginning around 1840, the Holiness Movement permitted women to speak/preach.  Women were vital to the China Inland Mission.  From its inception in 1878, single female missionaries were permitted to work in teams in the interior of China.  The Faith Mission, a holiness ministry, accepted its first two female Pilgrims in 1887. – Cherie Kropp-Ehrig, Preserving the Truth (2022)
"Phoebe Palmer.s Promise of the Father (1859) is a massive defense of women.s right to preach. She attributes the long-standing prohibitions against women taking an active role in the leadership of the church to two things: bad exegesis and a distorted and un-Christian view most men had of the opposite sex. She concludes that women, acting in their legitimate sphere, were more likely than men to exhibit true piety. Based on the promise of Joel 2:28, restated by Peter at Pentecost in Acts 2:17-18, Phoebe takes God at his Word. In the latter days. the Holy Spirit will be given to women as well as to men, and both will be expected to pray, prophesy, and preach. No one can study the holiness movement in the middle of the last century without dealing with this important book, so long out of print " --Kenneth E. Rowe, Drew University, Madison, NJ.  Phoebe Palmer (1807-74) was an evangelist and writer who promoted the doctrine of Christian perfection. She is considered one of the founders of the Holiness movement in the United States and the Higher Life movement in the United Kingdom.

The book has been reprinted and is available on Amazon.


Current Baptist Women in Ministry homepage

Prophets, male and female, have eloquently articulated the place of women in the church:

...That resolution (1984 Resolution against the ordination of women, SBC) will no more stop their mothers and sisters from declaring the mighty acts of God, with or without the laying on of human hands, than the tongue screws stopped those daughters of Sara in the 16th century. (William D. Campbell, On Silencing our Finest, Christianity and Crisis, 1985)

You can continue your relentless efforts to contain the spirit of God, squelch it, silence it and damage it, but it will not die in us..I pray that we will have the courage to follow our Lord into a kingdom where enemies are loved, where sons and daughters prophesy, even behind pulpits, and where God\\\\\\'s Spirit is poured out on all flesh." (Rev. Nancy Hastings Sehested, from An Open Letter to the Home Mission Board, SBC, 1989)

Baptist Women in Ministry must be faithful in continuing to proclaim the message of these and other prophets of change. The history and heritage of Baptist Women in Ministry must always tell the story of a people whose prophetic courage changed the course of Baptist life and of Christianity.


Ordained Women Deacons 1973-2004
at Crescent Hill Baptist Church
63 ordained women deacons 1973-2004
28 active women deacons out of 70 total in 2004
18 active women deacons  of 40 tot active in 2023
Jan 18, 2004 -- last deacon ordination service
June 2004 -- last Deacon Council meeting
Adams, Alice [1999]
Aleshire, Jo Ellen [1988](x)
Allen, Barbara [2004]
Arnold, Ginger [1992](x)
Bartlett, Eileen [2003]
Bennie, Liz [2002](x)
Birkimer, Sharleen [1997]
Bootes, Mary Ann [1986]
Brashear, Debbie [1994]
Bunger, Melanie [1995, Melanie Debusman]
Burch, Mildred [1983](d, 2007)
Burroughs, Colleen [2000](x)
Buster, Vicki  [2001](x)
Chapman, Kathryn [1987] (d, 1998)
Cobb, Reba [1999] (x)
Cole, Margaret [2004] (d, 2007)
Cook, Betty [1973](d, 2000)
Corlett, Mera [2003] (x) (Okalona pastor)
Culpepper, Ruth [1989](d, 2001)
Debusman, Amelia [1992]
Diehl, Lora Lee [2004] (x)
Duckworth, Laura Lea [1998](x)
Garland, Diana [1996] (d, 2015)
Gentle, Lelia [1994] (x) (moving to N.Mex)
Goetzman, Blanche [1994](d, 2015)
Graves, Margaret [1982]
Haswell, Eleanor [1998](d, 2011)
Henry, Joy [1997]
Hester, Peggy [1988](x)
Hooper, Sarah Jo [1997] (d, 2016)
Howard, Nancy [1992 or 2003] (d, 2011)
Howell, Bettye [1983](x)
Hyde, Cannan [1976, Dottie Dinwiddie] (x)
Johnston, Virginia[1992] (d, 2020)
Jones, Ellen [1977, Mrs. Peter Rae Jones] (x)
Kent, Jane [1973] (d, 2006)
Lilly, Ruth [1983](d, 2002)
Lindsay, Betsy [2004] (x)
McCartt, Clara [1988](d, 2007)
Miller, Ginger [1985](x)
Mills, Carol [1983](x)
Mills, Mary R. [1991] (x)
Nutt, Eleanor [1982](x)
Parker, Elaine [1988](x)
Pendergraph, Jackie [1992](d, 2002)
Pollard, Nina [1982](x)
Posey, Carolyn [2003]
Risinger, Mary H. [1981] (x)
Rogers, Luwilda [1992](x)
Schnur, Betty [1984]
Scott, Pat [1985]
Shurden, Kay [1980] (x)
Skonicki, Phyllis [1997]
Smith, Sharon Kay [1987](x)
Springs, Kathy [1997](x)
Spurr, Dorothy [2000]
Taylor, Marianne [2004]
Tunnell, Meme [2003]
Wade, Beth [1996]
Warren, Rachel Bennett [1980] (d, 2012)
White, Sharon [1992](x)
Woodward, Gaga [1973] (d, 2015)
Zimmer, Mary [1986](x)
(revised 11-15-2023 by John Arnett
  contact for corrections:
(d) - deceased, year passed on
(x) -  moved away, serving elsewhere, or inactive
[   ] - year ordained, previous name]
1991 --  Two women at CHBC listed as being
 "ordained ministers" out of 41 total "ordained":
----Leslie Kendrick
----Dr. Karen Smith, Cardiff Wales, Gr. Brittain
List of other women ordained by CHBC since 1991
is pending.

1995 Documentary:  Battle for the Minds
about the dismissal of Dr. Molly Marshall and the decisons of the SBC to exclude women from assuming the role of pastor of Baptist churches.


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