Olive Winchester: Celebrating 100 years of women’s ordination in the UK

Born in Monson, Maine (USA), in 1879, Olive May Winchester was the first woman to be admitted to study for and to graduate with a Bachelor of Divinity degree at the University of Glasgow.

Olive Winchester, photograph courtesy of the Nazarene Archives

While in Glasgow, Olive became a member of the Pentecostal Church of Scotland and taught in their Bible school, gaining the support of Scottish churches for Nazarene missions. When she graduated in 1912, the assembly of the Pentecostal Church of Scotland, united in 1915 with the Church of the Nazarene, voted to ordain her, making her the first woman to be ordained by any Christian denomination in Scotland. Olive was ordained to the Christian Ministry on the 11th May 1912 in the modern-day Sharpe Memorial Church of  the Nazarene in Parkhead, Glasgow. As a pioneering female minister and academic, Olive also went on to become the first woman to complete a Doctor of Theology (Th.D) in 1925 from Drew University (Madison, New Jersey, USA).

To mark the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the ordination of Olive Winchester, on 11 May 1912 in Glasgow, the University of Glasgow will host a weekend conference, Women, the Church and Ministry: Celebrating 100 years of women’s ordination in the UK. Organised and sponsored by the University of Glasgow’s School of Critical Studies, the International Christian College, the Nazarene Theological College, the Manchester Wesley Research Centre, and Sharpe Memorial Church of the Nazarene, Glasgow, the conference will take place from 11th until 13th May 2012 at the University Chapel (click on link to see details of events and venues).

Olive’s first matriculation slip (R8/5/30/11)

At the Academic Conference on Friday 11th May, the University Archive Services will put on display the student records of Olive Winchester at the University Chapel. This display, in honour of one of Glasgow’s pioneering international graduates, also serves as a reflection of Glasgow’s rich international alumni heritage, which the Archive Services aims to showcase through a new online resource currently being developed, The University of Glasgow’s International Story (GUIS). This website aims to document the University’s pioneering international alumni and staff, and their achievements throughout the world. Further biographical details on Olive Winchester and other Glasgow alumni and staff can currently be viewed on the University Story.

Categories: Archive Services

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1 reply


  1. Graduates 2012/1912: 28th June « University of Glasgow Library

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