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Female Pastors In History
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Female Pastors In History


A look at women who were pastors throughout history, whether acknowledged as such or not.

A look at women who were pastors throughout history, whether acknowledged as such or not.

Published in Education , Spiritual
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  • Nymphas in Col 4:15 is a man 'and the church in his house'. There were no female pastors in the first church. The term pastor is not used but once in the NT in Eph 4 as a part of the five fold ministry. Women could not be elders and was prohibited (I Tim 2:12). Elders and deacons are the only 'offices' of the first church. Review the power point 'Paradigm Shift: Collegial Eldership, Accountability'
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  • 1. Female Pastors In History
    By Apostle Dr. Lee Ann B. Marino, Ph.D., D.D.
    Apostle in Office
    Apostolic Fellowship International Ministries
    © 2010 Dr. Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.
  • 2. Why understand female pastors in history?
    Women in ministry is not a new happening, but a continuing revelation of God’s work all throughout salvation history
    It is essential for Christian women to recognize their spiritual heritage and history (Hebrews 12:1); women have a “cloud of witnesses” who have gone on before them in faith and power and set forth the course to where women in ministry are today
    Women have been called into positions of leadership and authority by God, even if they were not recognized for their specific accomplishments by name
    In the area of pastoring and local church authority, it is essential to see women have always filled this role
  • 3.
    • Acts 18:1, 18-28, Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19
    • 4. Mentioned throughout the New Testament, along with her husband, Aquilla, as companions of Paul and leaders of the church in Corinth
    • 5. Known for taking Apollos, an influential Jew, into their home, and explaining the way of Christ to them more effectively
    • 6. Had a congregation meet in their home in Corinth
    • 7. When Priscilla’s name appears in the Bible along with her husband, hers is listed first, indicating a spiritual prominence and importance
    • 8. Revered as a saint in traditional denominations, yet her identity is overlooked or abused; many use her as a justification to exclude women from positions of leadership; others minimize her true importance in New Testament Christianity
    Priscilla, Pastor
  • 9.
    • 1 Corinthians 1:11
    • 10. Prominent woman of Corinth
    • 11. A first-century pastor with a congregation meeting in her house, specifically addressed by the Apostle Paul in his letter, 1 Corinthians
    • 12. In this understanding, Chloe would have been the pastor of those under her spiritual guidance and she would have been accountable to the Apostle Paul
    • 13. It would have been at the prompting of Chloe that the Apostle Paul came forth to bring correction to the Corinthian church
    • 14. She is literally ignored, overlooked, cast aside, and not regarded with sainthood in any traditional religion; there is not a single icon or image of this revolutionary woman
    Chloe, Pastor
  • 15.
    • Acts 16:14-15
    • 16. The first European convert to Christianity under the ministry of the Apostle Paul
    • 17. Offered hospitality to the Apostle Paul and his companions in her home
    • 18. Upon her conversion, Lydia’s entire household was baptized and converted as well, thereby becoming their spiritual leader; her home became a center of faith for European Christians
    • 19. As this work was established, the Apostle Paul and his companions returned to preach and teach in her home
    • 20. Revered as a saint in all traditional churches; seldom acknowledged, and never formally observed as a pastor
    Lydia, Pastor
  • 21.
    • Colossians 4:15
    • 22. Leader of a home church in Colossae
    • 23. She and her church specifically received greetings from the Apostle Paul in his letter sent to the Colossian Christians
    • 24. Revered as a saint on the books in the traditional churches; unacknowledged as a pastor and virtually ignored in modern groups; in fact, her feast day was removed from the Roman Catholic calendar of veneration in 1969 due to lack of ‘evidence’ surrounding her life
    Nympha, Pastor
  • 25.
    • Second Century
    • 26. A late-in-life convert who was not baptized until her old age
    • 27. Led and pastored her grandchildren in the faith, converting and teaching them all
    • 28. In their zeal, her three grandsons tore down all their idols; while she praised them for their bravery, they were killed for renouncing paganism
    • 29. Leonilla was beheaded for the conversion and instruction of her grandsons
    • 30. Acknowledged as a saint in traditional churches, especially in Spain; unstudied in general history and largely unacknowledged
    Leonilla, Pastor
  • 31.
    • d. 304
    • 32. Converted her parents to Christianity; devoted her life unto the Lord
    • 33. Worked great miracles against those who sought to do her harm for her faith and persevered in belief
    • 34. As paganism dissolved within her locale, she became an abbess over a monastery in her city
    • 35. Became a martyr for her faith
    • 36. Revered as a saint in traditional religious churches; generally unacknowledged and unstudied by modern Christian women
    Justina of Nicomedia, Pastor
  • 37.
    • Third Century AD
    • 38. Abbess of a monastery in Asia Minor
    • 39. Supported and taught a young girl, Rhipsime, lived an aesthetic life of prayer
    • 40. When the Emperor Diocletian saw her image and desired to marry her, she refused despite words of kidnapping and threats of torture
    • 41. Due to Rhimpsime’s witness as a martyr, Gaiana, her pastor, and another woman also became martyrs for the faith
    • 42. The wrath of God befell those who martyred these women and they spent their lives as wild beasts
    • 43. Acknowledged as a saint in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches; little is taught directly of her work and life as the influence of Rhipsime
    Gaiana of Armenia, Pastor
  • 44.
    • 347-403
    • 45. Born into a noble family; given in marriage to a pagan man who, though pagan, was devoted to her and her family and allowed their five children to be raised as Christians
    • 46. Became a widow at 32 when her husband died suddenly; desired to turn her home into a monastery
    • 47. Was covered by St. Jerome and established two other monasteries in Jerusalem, one for women and one for men
    • 48. Daily the nuns chanted the entire Psalter, which they were required to memorize by heart
    • 49. Austere in prayer, fast, and almsgiving
    • 50. Was of great assistance and encouragement to her covering, St. Jerome
    • 51. Considered a saint in most major religions; largely unknown and uncelebrated by most believers crossing denominations
    Paula of Rome, Pastor
  • 52.
    • d. 350
    • 53. Daughter of rich parents who desired to serve God and devote herself to fasting and prayer from a young age
    • 54. After the death of her parents, she distributed her worldly goods to the poor, left the city with her sister, and lived in a crypt for the rest of her days
    • 55. Her deeds and lifestyle became well-known and many girls and women came to pray, worship, and live under her guidance
    • 56. Instructed numerous women and girls through preaching, teaching, and action
    • 57. Revered as a saint in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions; virtually unknown and ignored in identity by the majority of Christians, both traditional, and modern
    Syncletica of Alexandria, Pastor
  • 58.
    • d. 570
    • 59. The “Foster Mother of the Irish Saints”
    • 60. Born into nobility and founded a school and convent still existing in Newcastle West in County Limerick; a well still stands to mark the site of her church
    • 61. Established a convent which was a training ground for young boys, including Brendan, Apostle of Ireland, and her nephew, Mochaemhoch
    • 62. Served as spiritual counsel for many, and also practiced medicine; lived in repentance and discipline
    • 63. Believed the three things most pleasing to God were firm belief of a pure heart in God, simple religious life, and liberality with charity.
    • 64. Revered as a saint in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions; virtually unknown by Christians today
    Ita, the Hermitess of Killeady, Pastor
  • 65.
    • Fifth Century AD
    • 66. Given in marriage to a wealthy man, moved by faith and often spent days praying in church and seeking repentance for sins
    • 67. Upon meeting two Elderesses, Matrona sought to begin living an aesthetic life, engaging in fasting and prayer, against the wishes of her husband
    • 68. Eventually left her family and sought to follow the Lord, wherever he led her; she had to disguise herself as a monk to avoid being found by her husband’s pursuits
    • 69. When she was discovered to be female in a male monastery, she was sent to a women’s monastery
    • 70. Became the abbess of the monastery at Emesa
    • 71. Known beyond the walls of her monastery for her gift of healing, many conversions to the Lord
    • 72. Acknowledged as a saint in traditional religions; virtually unacknowledged and unclaimed by Christian women today
    Matrona, Abbess of Constantinople, Pastor
  • 73.
    • Seventh century
    • 74. From a strong family of faith; had four sisters who also worked in Christian ministry
    • 75. After marriage, Sexburga kept a home church in which members attended day and night for prayer
    • 76. All of her three children and also her grandchildren followed in the family spirit of ministry
    • 77. After the death of her husband, Sexburga became a regent on behalf of her son and abbess of her own community, overseeing 74 nuns until her death
    • 78. Revered as a saint, especially in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches; largely unstudied and unheard of by most Christian women today
    Sexburga of Kent, Pastor
  • 79.
    • Seventh century
    • 80. From a staunchly pious and religious family
    • 81. Became a nun at Soissons, France, and an abbess at St. Julien de Pres Abbey in Le Mans, France
    • 82. Revered in the Catholic Church as the patron saint of religious women and nuns in France; as can be seen by the very limited information available about her life, she is not well-known to Christian women
    Ada, Pastor
  • 83.
    • Seventh century
    • 84. Of Wessex nobility; converted to Christianity in 635
    • 85. Left home to become a nun, and was joined by two other women
    • 86. Founded a convent at Everingham
    • 87. Led a community of more than 980 women
    • 88. Though acknowledged as a saint in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, virtually unknown by Christian women
    Everilda of Everingham, Pastor
  • 89.
    • d. 680
    • 90. Baptized at a young age by one of the first missionaries to the British Isles
    • 91. Entered into monastic life
    • 92. Hailed as “the Moses of her people;” walked in a powerful prophetic gift of visions and dreams throughout her life
    • 93. Women’s rights advocate
    • 94. Acknowledged for her important contributions to abolitionism, African-American history, and women’s history
    Hilda, Abbess of Whitney, Pastor
  • 95.
    • c. 920-960
    • 96. Born into a royal family and desiring spiritual life from a young age
    • 97. After selecting a chalice rather than gold jewelry at the age of three, Edburga was sent to the care of her cousin, Abbess of a Winchester convent
    • 98. Revered for her love, gentleness, humility, and holiness in her lifetime
    • 99. Known for her service, including washing the socks of her fellow nuns, never withholding service for any purpose
    • 100. Many believe she became Abbess of Winchester
    • 101. Revered as a saint in traditional denominations; virtually unknown by modern Christian women
    Edburga of Winchester, Pastor
  • 102.
    • 1599-1672
    • 103. Born Marie Guyart; married young and had a son, only to have her husband die two years later
    • 104. Joined the Ursulines at Tours, and became the founder of the order in France and Canada
    • 105. Rebuilt the first convent in Quebec after fire and spent the rest of her life teaching the Algonquin Indians, and compiling words for dictionaries, that English and Algonquin speakers could learn to communicate
    • 106. Experienced many visions and spiritual gifts over the years
    • 107. Regarded as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church; largely unacknowledged by Christian women today
    Marie Guyart of the Incarnation, Pastor
  • 108.
    • 1829-1890
    • 109. Overcame illness and inspired by faith (reading the entire Bible eight times by age twelve) as a young woman to become the “Army Mother” of the Salvation Army
    • 110. Confronted culture by working as a female speaker and preacher, including at youth, children’s, and adults
    • 111. Known for holding meetings for converts and doing extensive work with alcoholics
    • 112. Active in the work of ministry (including changes, doctrinal issues, and many other important issues) and with women throughout the founding of the Salvation Army
    • 113. Delivered her final sermon to an audience of 25,000 people
    • 114. Virtually unknown and ignored by Christians today
    Catherine Booth, Pastor
  • 115.
    • 1847-1896
    • 116. Born and educated in Madrid, Spain; lived with her aunt who established a home for domestic servants
    • 117. In company with her aunt, Vincentia established a group of women who desired to minister to and educate working girls
    • 118. Out of this work grew the institute of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate for Domestic Service between 1878-1888
    • 119. Organization spread throughout Europe and Latin America
    • 120. Although a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, largely unknown by Christian women today
    Vincentia Maria Lopez Y Vicuna, Pastor
  • 121.
    • Unknown
    • 122. Nothing is known about her early life and very little known about her ministry
    • 123. First woman ordained in the Church of the Nazarene, 1892
    • 124. Founder of a congregation in 1890 in Malden, Massachusetts
    • 125. Virtually unknown and ignored in identity by the majority of Christians, both traditional, and modern
    Anna S. Hanscombe, Pastor
  • 126.
    • 1886-1970
    • 127. Saved at age fourteen and sanctified by age fifteen, Agnes White Diffee was hesitant to answer the call to serve God in ministry; at sixteen, she became the youngest revivalist in the country
    • 128. She used being a woman as an excuse not to follow God in ministry, not pursuing preaching full-time; after avoiding her calling for a number of years, she developed arthritis, which she believed was in response to her avoidance of her call
    • 129. Ordained a Senior Pastor in 1919; saw her first church grow to over one thousand members; went on to serve in several other churches and also served on the Board of Regents for a Nazarene college
    • 130. Hailed as a stellar example for women in ministry among Nazarenes; virtually ignored by other Christian denominations
    Agnes White Diffee, Pastor
  • 131.
    • 1890-1944
    • 132. Grew up with a strong influence in the Salvation Army thanks to her mother; grew up playing “Salvation Army” with her friends and playing church with her dolls
    • 133. Founder and pastor of the Foursquare Gospel, a Pentecostal Mission (became the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel) and its church, Angelus Temple, in Los Angeles; first “mega church” pastor
    • 134. Pioneer in the use of modern media, especially radio; gifted in using media, technology, and modern issues to promote the Gospel; important figure in the Women’s Movement
    • 135. Fervent heart for souls and for the social gospel: known for aid to the homeless and hungry; known for interracial meetings and bridging the gap between racial groups
    • 136. Spent years preaching in revivals, tent revivals, and for healings; received a recommend from the American Medical Association for having so many legitimate healings
    • 137. While semi-acknowledged as a church figure, not nearly acknowledged for her contributions to women, Christian women, women in ministry, and women’s history
    Aimee Semple McPherson, Pastor
  • 138. Join us!
    To learn more about women in history, Christian women and their identity in Christ, women in ministry throughout history, and more, join Apostle Dr. Lee Ann Marino (Apostolic Fellowship International Ministries, Apostolic University) for Compass Training™ or History Makers™ Seminars and women in ministry preparation
    Counts toward degree credit through Apostolic University
    To learn more, visit,,,, or contact us:
  • 139. References
    “St. Edburga of Winchester.”
    “St. Gaiana of Armenia.”
    “St. Hilda, Abbess of Whitby.”
    “St. Ita, the Hermitess of Killeady.”
    “St. Justina of Nicomedia.”
    “St. Leonilla and St. Jonilla at Cappadocia.”
    “St. Matrona, Abbess of Constantinople.”
    “St. Paula of Rome.”
    “St. Sexburga of Kent.”
    “St. Syncletica of Alexandria.”
    “St. Vincentia Maria Lopez Y Vicuna.”
    “Who Were Aquilla And Priscilla?”
    “Agnes White Diffee.”
    “Aimee Semple McPherson.”
    “Blessed Marie of the Incarnation.”
    “Catherine Booth.”
    “KCAA Dusty Shelf, v. 18.”
    Riss, Kathryn. “Women Pastors in the Early Church.”
    “St. Ada.”