Support the Café

Search our Site

Mary Michael Simpson, women’s ordination pioneer, remembered

Mary Michael Simpson, women’s ordination pioneer, remembered

The Rev Canon Mary Michael Simpson, OSH died Wednesday in Augusta GA. She was one of the first women ordained in the Episcopal Church and was the first woman to preach at Westminster Abbey.

“Canon Simpson addressed the issue [of women’s ordination] directly in a sermon at Westminster Abbey on April 2, 1978, in which she asserted that the church treated women like “second-class Christians.”

“Christian creativity for the present age must not depend on male leaders,” she told a gathering of about 700 people. “Woman’s contribution — from women properly trained and authorized — is essential.”

[…]Canon Simpson did not begin her career with a zeal for ecumenical equality. It was more than 20 years before she began advocating for women in the priesthood.

“My reading and thinking led me to the conclusion that there was no barrier to the ordination of women; it just had not been done,” she wrote in a chapter of “Yes to Women Priests,” a book supporting women’s ordination.

She joined the staff of St. John the Divine, where she began arguing for women in the clergy. While there, she studied psychotherapy and was installed as canon residentiary on Oct. 9, 1977, with the title “canon counselor” and responsibility for all counseling services.”

More here.

We Episcopalians give thanks for her life of service and witness in this church and within the wider Anglican Communion. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Canon Mary, pray for us…

JC Fisher

Bill Moorhead

I remember Canon Simpson with warmth and respect. Sister Mary Michael was novicemistress at the OSH house at Newburgh, New York, when I was a novice at OHC at West Park, and the two novitiates shared a number of educational and service activities. This was a number of years before the ordination of women to the priesthood became a reality, but the intelligence and wisdom of Mary Michael and her OSH sisters helped me accept and rejoice in women’s ordination in subsequent years. (Bishop Ann Tottenham was also in that novitiate group.) May Mary Michael indeed rest in peace and rise in glory.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café