For the first time in its 37-year history, the Antoinette Brown Award was presented to three clergywomen, rather than the usual two, at a GS28 luncheon on Monday.
The three included:
The Rev. Carole Carlson, former Conference Minister for New Hampshire, who was ordained in 1977, was recognized for her pastoral skills and for embodying the spirit of Antoinette Brown — “a trail-blazer, an advocate for justice for women, a voice of protest against abusive power wherever it’s found and a deeply caring pastor.” She was introduced by the Rev. Susan Henderson.
The Rev. Barbara Gerlach, an advocate for women who was ordained in 1971, was a significant personality in the creation of the Coordinating Center for Women in Church and Society. She and her husband, the late Rev. John Mack, shared a co-equal pastorate, in Scranton, Penn., and she has been recognized as an artist portraying the suffering of women and children. She was introduced by the Rev. Davida Foy Crabtree.
The Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, a former executive minister of Justice and Witness Ministries of the UCC, was ordained in the Amistad Chapel in the Church House in 2005. Pastor of First United UCC in Tampa, Fla., she currently serves and president of the North American region of the World Council of Churches. She was introduced by the Rev. Yvonne Delk.
Crabtree, a former award-winner, noted that previous honorees were wearing their “Netties,” their awards, on Monday at General Synod 28 and at home if they were not able to be in Tampa.
The award honors the memory of the first woman ordained in the United States. Antoinette Brown Blackwell attended Oberlin College, graduating in 1847, then lobbied the college for admission into its theological School. She completed seminary in 1850 but was not granted her Doctor of Divinity degree until 1908. She was ordained in 1853 and called to serve the Congregational Church in South Butler, N.Y.
The Rev. Alice Hunt, the 12th of president Chicago Theological Seminary, reviewed the life and character of Antoinette Brown in her keynote address.