First ordained Scottish women to be celebrated at conference
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
United Kingdom
Olive Winchester has long been known among Nazarenes as an early woman preacher and academic. She served as professor at the then Northwest Nazarene College from 1918 to 1935, and at Pasadena College (now Point Loma Nazarene University) from 1935 until her death in 1947.

But what has recently emerged is that her ordination in Scotland on May 11, 1912, makes her the first woman to be ordained in any Christian church, not only in Scotland but possibly in the entire British Isles.

Winchester graduated first from Harvard University and taught in the Pentecostal Collegiate Institution (now Eastern Nazarene College). She sailed to Scotland in 1909 to become the first woman to register at the University of Glasgow and take a Bachelor of Divinity degree (equivalent to a master’s degree). She became a member of the Pentecostal Church of Scotland, founded by George Sharpe, and taught in their Bible college. She also wrote to H. F. Reynolds and persuaded the Scottish churches to support Nazarene missions.

When she graduated with her B.D. degree in 1912, the assembly of the Pentecostal Church of Scotland voted to ordain her.

After union with the Church of the Nazarene in 1915 — largely as a result of her efforts — the British Isles District (as it became) voted to ordain Jane Sharpe in 1917, and in 1924, voted to ordain the Sharpes’ daughter, Agnes Kanema Hynd, along with her husband, David Hynd. The next year the Hynds went to Swaziland to found the Manzini mission station.

This means that the first three women ordained in Scotland were Nazarenes. The Congregationalists ordained the fourth, Vera Findlay (later Kenmure), in 1928.

The centenary of Winchester’s ordination is to be marked with a cross-denominational conference on Women in Ministry from May 11 to 13 in Glasgow. East Ohio Co-District Superintendent Carla Sunberg, Diane LeClerc of Northwest Nazarene University, Rebecca Laird from Point Loma Nazarene University, and Harold Raser of Nazarene Theological Seminary will be participating in the conference.

Details of the conference may be found at by clicking here.
--Manchester Wesley Research Centre
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  • Thanks for the clarification and correction. SMJWALSH on 05/08/12
  • Caroline Soule was ordained in the Universalist Church, a denomination not recognized as holding ... T.A.NOBLE on 04/10/12
  • My book, Called to Be Saints, makes it clear that Olive Winchester was ordained on 11th May, 1912... T.A.NOBLE on 04/10/12