Forty years of spiritual leadership: Cincinnati celebrates women as priests in the Episcopal Church

CINCINNATI - On a cool summer evening, Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati was the ideal setting to celebrate the 40th anniversary of women in the Episcopal Church. More than 100 people gathered to participate in the hour-long program accented by soft light, candles and flowers at the altar.

Led by the Very Rev. Gail E. Greenwell, the service featured the Rev. Susan Lehman as celebrant. Lehman was the first woman priest ordained in Cincinnati, at the now-closed Church of the Holy Spirit in Forest Park in 1977.

In a festive atmosphere, the service on July 29 attracted women ministers dressed in white stoles--worn on special occasions--from the Dioceses of Southern Ohio and Lexington to mark the women's ordination anniversary in 1974.

The Tuesday evening service followed the traditional Rite II Holy Eucharist with the addition of a renewal of baptismal vows and a litany of Thanksgiving for the ministry of all women. A full choir sang anthems often related to women, the selection chosen for the occasion by Stephan Casurella, director of music.

WCPO Insiders can read about the rocky early days of women as priests in the Episcopal Church and learn how one local woman is still ministering at age 73.

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