5 Lesser Known Religion's Female Firsts | Listclan 5 Lesser Known Religion's Female Firsts - Listclan

Friday, December 7, 2018

5 Lesser Known Religion's Female Firsts

The place of women in religion has always been an issue of intense debate. Although in recent times, women are now having their rightful place, it had not always been so. We will look at some women, who in spite of the status quo at their time, went on to leave their prints in the sands of time in the religious circle.


1. Umm Waraqa bint Abdallah- First Female Imam


 Although it was not expressed outrightly in the Quaran that women should not be Imams (in fact, some hadith indicated that women can lead congregations) patriarchial interpretations of the Book and sexism have continually relegated women to the footnote. Umm Waraqa bint Abdallah, an Ansari woman, who knew the entire Quran (jama'at al-Qur'an), was instructed by Muhammad to lead ahl dariha, which consisted of both men and women, in prayer.

In January, 2018, 34-year-old Jamida Beevi received death threats following her decision to lead the Friday prayer for a mixed congregation in India on Friday, January 26, Jamida Beevi said she has been receiving death threats on social media.

2.Regina Jonas – First Female Rabbi



Regina Jonas, born 3rd August 1902 was a Berlin-born rabbi. In 1935, she became the first woman to be ordained as a rabbi. There had been some women before Jonas who made significant contributions to Jewish thought, such as the Maiden of Ludmir, Asenath Barzani, and Lily Montagu, who acted in similar roles without being ordained.

Regina worked tirelessly in the Theresienstadt concentration camp for two years after she was taken there during the Holocaust, her work including giving lectures on different topics. She was deported with other prisoners to Auschwitz in mid-October 1944, where she was murdered either less than a day or two months later. She was 42 years old.

3. Elizabeth Jane Holden – First Female Bishop (Church of England)



"Libby" Lane (born 8 December 1966) is a Church of England bishop. Since January 2015, she has been the Bishop of Stockport, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She is the first woman to be appointed as a bishop by the Church of England, after its General Synod voted in July 2014 to allow women to become bishops. Her consecration took place on 26 January 2015 at York Minster.

4. Clarissa Danforth –First Female Priest (FreeWill Baptist)



Clarissa Danforth was the first woman to be ordained Priest by the Freewill Baptist denomination in New England, US in 1815.

Danforth was born in Weathersfield, Vermont in 1792. She heard Rev. John Colby preach in 1809 on his way to Ohio and had a conversion experience. After her ordination in 1815, Danforth became an itinerant preacher throughout northern New England. She began preaching in Chepachet, Rhode Island and the surrounding areas in 1818 after taking over as pastor of the Chepachet Baptist Church when John Colby died. Danforth spent most of her career in Rhode Island and helped lead the revival in Smithfield emanating from the Greenville Baptist Church.

She also preached for periods in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. In 1822 she married Danford Richmond a Baptist minister from Pomfret, Connecticut, and they moved to New York where she preached only occasionally. Danforth died around 1855.

5.  Ellinah Wamukoya – First Female Bishop (Anglican Provinces of Africa)



In July 2012, Ellinah Wamukoya of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa became the bishop-elect of Swaziland and the first woman to be elected a bishop in any of the twelve Anglican Provinces in Africa. She was consecrated on 17 November 2012 at All Saints Cathedral, Mbabane. On 19 January 2013, Margaret Vertue was consecrated the diocesan bishop of False Bay.

Wamukoya studied at the universities of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. She was the chaplain of the University of Swaziland and of St. Michael's High School, in Manzini, as well as Town Clerk and CEO of the City Council of Manzini when she was elected.