50 Years of Ordained Women
2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women in the Lutheran church in our country.
- What led up to this momentous change in the church?
- How did the Spirit move from “what would prevent us?” to “Why we must”?
- What have been the struggles and the joys of women’s leadership within our Lutheran expression of Christianity?
Actual things said to female pastors in the NC Synod
Thank You to Pastors | Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Some of Our Stories
Rev. Gretchen Bingea, Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Boise, ID
For Gretchen J. Bingea the road to ordination was a meandering one. Growing up, there were no women pastors in the Lutheran church to look to as role models. She served as a lay campus minister from 1980-1986 at the University of Iowa, after receiving a Master of Arts at Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul, MN. That experience helped confirm her call to become a pastor. Returning to seminary, this time at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA, she earned her Master of Divinity degree while also parenting two children with her spouse. Gretchen was ordained in 1996 and since then has served congregations in Michigan, California and now Boise, Idaho at Immanuel Lutheran Church.
The Gospel at her ordination which has guided her throughout her ministry is Luke 4:18-19:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Rev. Kelly Loy, Pastoral Counselor, Shared Path Counseling, Boise ID
I grew up at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa. It was a large congregation and we always had three pastors. My first female pastor was Rev. Mary Nesmith, who arrived in time to help teach my confirmation classes. I remember Pastor Mary helping us with catechism memorization and introducing us to social justice by helping us write letters to advocate for an end to apartheid in South Africa. After that we had a female Intern Laurie Larson Caesar (now Bishop of the Oregon Synod), and next we had Pastor LeAnn Stubbs, who was a PLTS grad. I never questioned the presence or pastoral authority of these women clergy who modeled leadership and spiritual presence alongside their male clergy counterparts.
I attended Luther College, where the two college pastors included a female. I was closer with the male pastor, however I remember Pastor Noreen confirming my sense of call to seminary and distinctly encouraging me on this path at the end of my senior year of college. I am grateful for these positive role models who led me to never question God’s call in my life or the lives of other girls and women!
Kelly Loy, PLTS grad. 2002, 17 years of ordination
Pastor Kelly is currently providing pastoral counseling at Shared Path Counseling in Boise, ID
Rev. Meggan Manlove, Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Nampa ID
Pastor Meggan Manlove grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, attending Custer Lutheran Fellowship, and spent many summer days paddling canoes in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and Minnesota. She graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead and worked at Camp Christikon in Montana during the summers. During her sophomore and junior years she attended Trinity, Moorhead and was wowed by Pastor Anne Svenningsen, the first woman pastor she heard preach weekly in a congregation. Before her senior year in college, Meggan volunteered with the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans. Her Hotel Life Coordinator, Pastor Marilyn Breckenridge, encouraged her to consider a call to public ministry. Meggan spent a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Syracuse, NY and then earned her M.Div. from the Univ. of Chicago Divinity School. She served as pastor of Soldier Lutheran Church in rural Western Iowa for six years and moved to Nampa, Idaho in 2010 to serve as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church. Meggan loves local ministry collaborations and cares deeply about outdoor ministries.
Read more at Meggan’s Blog
Rev. Kari Sansgaard, Hospice Chaplain, Lighthouse Hospice, Meridian ID
Kari grew up with cemeteries as her playground, a PK (Pastor’s Kid) or, as she likes to say, a TO (Theologian’s Offspring). As a girl she met Pastor April Ulring Larson, the first female pastor she’d encountered. In college (Pacific Lutheran University), Pastor Susan Briehl became a mentor for Kari as her own call to ordained ministry deepened. Most influential in Kari’s faith formation are her parents – Ann and Dick Sansgaard – who called out gifts in Kari and who continue to embody agape love in her life.
Kari has served in pastoral calls in both Wisconsin and Idaho. She currently serves as a hospice chaplain with Lighthouse Hospice – Meridian, ID. She is the proud mother of daughters Maren (23 years) and Rachel (19 years). Idaho has been her home for the past twenty years and she enjoys long walks and hikes in this beautiful part of the world. On her bucket list is a trip to Scandanavia.
1998 graduate of Wartburg Theological Seminary – Dubuque, Iowa.
Rev. Barbara Condon, Independent Grief Specialist - Retired ELCA Pastor
I was baptized and confirmed in the United Methodist Church in Houston, TX. In my mid 20’s, I stumbled into a Lutheran church while looking for a place to have my wedding. Although I had a B.S. in Geography and Planning, at the time I was working for Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. in Austin, TX. Becoming a pastor was something that had never, ever crossed my mind. I didn’t even know that women pastors existed. However, the Lutheran congregation I joined in 1980 happened to have a woman intern at the time. I didn’t think much about it until I heard God’s voice whispering, “I want you to do that”. What!?! I ended up arguing with God for the next four years that I wasn’t cut out to be a pastor until finally agreeing to attend seminary.
I began seminary at the Lutheran Theological Seminary Program of the Southwest in Austin, TX. Two years later we moved to Oakland, CA where I finished seminary and graduated from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA in 1989.
My first call was as co-pastor at First Ev. Lutheran Church in Idaho Falls, ID and I was ordained on September 30, 1990 at my home church in Austin, TX. Over the years I have served as a Hospice Chaplain, Bereavement Coordinator, and as the Interim Pastor for a number of congregations in southeast Idaho, Wyoming and Oregon.