The Lead-Up to Ordination: 1973

In 1973 the constitutional change allowing women’s ordination was again proposed, and the resolution came before the House of Deputies in Louisville on the fifth day of the General Convention. Deputy Charles Lawrence of New York presented the majority report of the Committee on the Ordination of Women, recommending that Convention “proceed to provide for the ordination of women,” this time proposing it as a canonical amendment. Deputy Guthrie spoke for the majority opinion. After a debate, a vote by orders was called.

Though the majority of deputies voted for ordination, the high number of divided diocesan votes meant that neither order managed the 57 votes required to pass the amendment, and once again the ordination of women was postponed. The Minority Report of the Committee on the Ordination of Women was then presented, calling again for the ordination of women to be discussed among the Anglican Communion as a whole. Deputy Considine of Northwest Texas moved to add language noting that “This House of Deputies has indicated by majority vote that it is prepared to authorize the ordination of women,” but the amendment was defeated. The motion to consult other churches was, however, carried.

A delegation to the Women’s Triennial, sometimes called “the third House,” listens to a speech on the theme of freedom. The Women’s Triennial voted in favor of women’s ordination in 1973, and sent a memorial to the General Convention recommending adoption.

Constitutional or Canonical Amendment?
Correspondence between Presiding Bishop John Hines and Secretary of the House of Deputies Charles Guilbert discuss the various options for framing Women’s Ordination legislation before Convention.

Convention Daily, 1973. A headline from the Oct. 4, 1973 Convention Daily announces that women’s ordination will be considered in the House of Deputies.

Women's Reactions, 1973. Women respond to the 1973 General Convention’s rejection of women’s ordination.

Charles Willie Statement, 1973. Newly re-elected Vice President of the House of Deputies Charles Willie gives a statement on his feelings about where the Church is going in 1973.

A 1973 cartoon from The Living Church suggests the sense of departure from Apostolic tradition felt deeply by many opponents of women’s ordination.