An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Philadelphia Eleven, The

The eleven women who were ordained priests at the Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia, on the feast of St. Mary and St. Martha, July 29, 1974, two years before General Convention authorized the ordination of women. The women ordained were Merrill Bittner, Alla Bozarth-Campbell, Alison Cheek, Emily Hewitt, Carter Heyward, Suzanne Hiatt, Marie Moorefield, Jeanette Piccard, Betty Schiess, Katrina Swanson, and Nancy Wittig. The bishops who presided at the service were Daniel Corrigan, Robert DeWitt, and Edward Welles II. These ordinations, and the ordinations of four more women in Sept. 1975 in Washington, D.C., were widely criticized as irregular because the Episcopal Church had not yet authorized the ordination of women to the priesthood. In 1976 the House of Bishops affirmed the validity of the ordinations by requiring of the fifteen women only “an act of completion” that would be “a liturgical incorporation of what was done on those two occasions” in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. All of the “Philadelphia Eleven” participated in public events of “completion” within the following year, with the exception of Marie Moorefield who left the Episcopal Church to join the United Methodist Church. See Ordination of Women.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.