Finding Voice


In recognition of the 50th anniversary celebration of the United Church of Christ, Women: Finding Voice offers readers an opportunity to learn more about the fascinating lives of the clergywomen who have been named as former recipients of the Antoinette Brown Award.

Prefatory Note/Nota Preliminar

July 2011

Barbara Ann Gerlach: Artist, Minister, Advocate for Justice/Artista, Ministra, Defensora de la Paz y la Justicia
"I resonate with a God who frees me and calls me to a journey of love, creativity and adventure.

The survival of our planet depends on breaking down the dividing walls of nation and class, race and sex, religion and political ideology . . . seeing ourselves, above all our other identities, as one body and members one of another."1

[1] As quoted from Antoinette Brown Award Acceptance Speech. UCC General Synod, Tampa, Florida. July 4 2011

Carole C. Carlson: Conference Minister, Writer/Ministra de Conferencia, Escritora
"Much of what I have done has been a personal, one-on-one ministry. I tried to support and encourage women marginalized during the time when there was tremendous discrimination in the church."

Bernice Powell Jackson, Journey for Justice/Lucha por la Justicia
Local, national, and world justice and peace advocate. First woman as executive director of the UCC Commission for Racial Justice and as Executive Minister of Justice and Witness (UCC), President of the North American region of the World Council of Churches.
You, I, we must actively resist injustice. It doesn't matter which one, pick one.

September 2009

Marilyn Adams Moore, Social Prophet/Profeta Social

An ordained woman of faith and courage, Marilyn served the United Church of Christ for more than twenty years in mobilizing justice ministries in racial and ethnic groups.

"I think if the UCC is truly about what we say 'that they may all be one,' then we should be honest about what we really mean concerning pluralism. People don’t really want to share power, but it is mind boggling that we think power is ours to give. Power that we conceive as ours is really nothing. Power is of God." – Marilyn Adams Moore

August 2009

Ansley Coe Throckmorton, Preacher and Pastor/Predicadora y Pastora

There is great hunger in the human heart and among the peoples of the earth for meaning and purpose for their lives and for liberating truth and power. The church is looked to by many for vision, direction, and courage. People, both within and outside of the church today, long to know the scriptures, to become articulate about faith, and to see more clearly the relationship between the gospel and the realities of the world.  – Ansley Coe Throckmorton

July 2009

Betty Jane Bailey, A Ministry of Education/Un Ministerio de Educación

"The church is a gathered community of people seeking to live to­gether in love. They are equipping themselves for their own ministry and mission out in the world...People in the church are also called to think theologically about life and events – to put them in a perspective which includes God. The gathering together must re­sult in a sending back into the world to respond to events in the world in a healing way."

June 2009

Barbara Brown Zidmund, Church Historian/Historiadora de la Iglesia - Theological Educator/Educadora Teológica

“Women are reinventing ministry for the future, refusing old definitions, and reshaping understandings of ordained persons. The setting apart of a few to full-time Christian service is a functional not a value judgment. The calling to the ministry is not qualitatively any better than that of many other vocations, it is simply different.”  BBZ – Church historian, theological educator

Mayo 2009  

Candita Bauzá-Mattos Primera Mujer Hispana Ordenada en la Iglesia Unida de Cristo

Cuando vine acá y me di cuenta de la relación que tenían la Iglesia Unida de Cristo y la Iglesia Evangélica Unida de Puerto Rico, sentí que yo pertenecía a algo que era no solamente bravío sino que poseía un don que daba sentido a mi vida y a mi ministerio.

Candita Bauzá-Mattos, primera mujer graduada del Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico y la primera en ser  ordenada en la Iglesia Evangélica Unida de Puerto Rico, es la coordinadora y consultante del Concilio de  Ministerios Hispanos de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo.

May 2009    

Candita Bauzá-Mattos, First Hispanic Woman Ordained in the Evangelical United Church of Puerto Rico

When I came here and saw the relationship that the United Church of Christ and the United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico had, I felt that I belonged to something that was not only brave but a gift that gives meaning to my life and to my ministry.

Candita Bauzá-Mattos, first Hispanic woman to graduate from the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, and first ordained in the Evangelical United Church of Puerto Rico, is the coordinator and consultant of the Council of  Hispanic Ministries of the United Church of Christ.

April 2009   

Julie Peeples, Pastor to the Community/Pastora para la Comunidad 

In responding to community issues and to individuals in her church, this community healer and reconciler has learned to make space for God. She first asks, What is missing that I am called of God to make present? “I'm not trying to bring God to people, I'm trying to surface what I know is already there.”

March 2009

Talitha J. Arnold, Saguaro Ministry/Ministerio del Cacto (Cactus)

For me, the central call of pastoral ministry is to build hope and build faith. The opportunity to build the church—be it by building the community, building the structure, or creating new opportunities for learning or service—is one of the true joys of pastoral ministry.

February 2009

Bernice Buehler, Prayer in Action/Oración en Acción

The first woman to receive a divinity degree at Yale, Bernice Buehler became National Director of Religious Education for the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

"Bernice was a gung-ho go-getter in terms of fighting for the rights of children and for their respect. She took an important role in setting forth needs and concerns of children – a power house in educational resources."

January 2009

Ruth Marilyn Brandon, Embracing God's Justice Agenda/Abrazando la Agenda de Dios para la Justicia

"For me, ministry is possible only as responsiveness to the moving of God among the people, and a willingness to be used by God, often in surprising ways. The work has to be something worth doing; that in itself gives meaning to ministry. It must feel like God needs me to be there."

"The question still today is whether we are in touch with God enough ourselves to be able to mediate and facilitate so that other folks also will come into God's presence and grow as faithful people."

December 2008

Annie Rubena Campbell

The Reverend Annie Rubena Campbell  received the Antoinette Brown Award in 1977. Any readers who supported her nomination and any other readers who know anything about Annie are invited to email contact information to Dee Brauninger at

Annie worked in the Ozark missions, and was much loved by the "mountain folks."  It is thought that she also had medical training.  It is not known if Annie Campbell is still living.

November 2008

María Teresa Unger Palmer, Advocate of Immigrants/Defensora y Consejera de los Inmigrantes

Immigrant pastor, educator, advocate for North Carolina's Latino community, María Teresa Unger Palmer has recognized many gifts and talents as her initial ministry expanded and evolved into an ever-broadening voice of justice.

October 2008

Alice Bigley Snow, Parish Minister/Ministra de Parroquia

The church kept asking me to substitute preach. They asked me to do more and more. That was what I really deep down wanted to do but didn't know if I could.  It opened up the doors when I said yes that first night.

September 2008

Yvonne Virginia Delk, Daughter of Sojourner, Child of Hannah, Minister to Society/Hija del Comino, Niña de Ana, Ministra para la Sociedad

Minister to society, Yvonne Virginia Delk has committed most of her life to dismantling racism, "binding in covenant faithful people of all tongues and races." 
Like Sojourner, I too have traveled up and down this land telling the truth as I see it about racism, sexism, economic injustice, and violence.  Facing the truth—and telling the truth—not only sets us free, but calls for new ways of being, of speaking, of acting, and of witnessing.

August 2008

Peggy Brainerd Way, Pastoral Theologian/Teóloga Pastoral

I want my students to know that Christianity must be an embodiment and practice, not a set of statements or words. I encourage my students to celebrate diversity because it is God's intention that diverse cultures learn how to hear each other, to stand each other in our differences.

July 2008

Virginia Kreyer, Disabilities Ministries/Ministerio a Personas con Impedimentos Físcos o Mentales

"We finally have come to understand that we cannot be an inclusive church unless all people, regardless of their disability, color of their skin, or national origin are welcome in Christ's Church. Let us give thanks for our individual uniqueness and for Christ who binds Christians together as different pieces of cloth are brought together to make a quilt."

- The Rev. Virginia Kreyer, Mother of the Disabilities Ministries Movement in the United Church of Christ

June 2008

Marie Fortune: Removing the Yoke of Sexual Domestic Violence/Removiendo el Yugo de la Violencia Sexual y Doméstica

The Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, founder of FaithTrust Institute, (formerly known as the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence), and widely known author, speaker, teacher and advocate for ending domestic violence, was the earliest voice in the church to name sexual abuse and begin to address it in our churches.

May 2008

Leila W. Anderson, Pilgrim Circuit Rider/Conductora del Circuito Peregrino

Leila Waite Anderson held a traveling national staff position in Christian Education that led her through the Convention of the South, the northern prairie and then from New York to the Hawaiian Islands. She drove a station wagon that served as home and office.

Changed attitudes and practices in people's lives are more important than the mouthing of theological phrases; therefore Christian education should help individuals and groups to make Christian choices when confronted with alternatives of thought and action. 

A teacher is a person who can guide a group in finding its own answers.

April 2008

Barbara Mosley de Souza, Missionary in Brasil (Brazil)

Barbara Mosley de Souza founded the Association of Community Health Educators in Rio de Janeiro in 1996. The health clinic offers medical treatment, health education and disease prevention to the whole shantytown community. Where knowledge is so scarce, it is critical to teach people to understand in their own terms in ways they can communicate with people of their same level of experience.

Education is empowerment. In the midst of corruption and violence, we are bringing hope and we have proved that with unity, we can accomplish a lot.

March 2008

Jan Griesinger, Campus Ministry/Ministerio Universitario

Justice is the strongest sense of God for me. Faith has to be lived out. My life has been a journey of doing what needs to be done in this long struggle.

Activist movements, particularly women's liberation, have shaped most of Jan Griesinger's life and work as a campus minister and lesbian pastor. The first Antoinette Brown Award recipient chosen because of her lesbian activism, she was active in the UCC Gay Caucus and National Co-Coordinator of the Coalition (1984-1997).

February 2008 

Joyce B. Myers-Brown, Missionary for Justice and Peace/Misionera de Justicia y Paz

Ministry has given me the privilege of entering into people's lives—helping them grow spiritually and personally. Yet as a pastor I am deeply concerned about social justice issues. It is rewarding to be doing something and saying something that you really care about and you think and hope will make a difference.

January 2008

Beatrice Weaver McConnell, First Ordained Woman in the Evangelical and Reformed Church/Primera mujer ordenada en la Iglesia Evangélica y Reformada

Farthest from my mind then, as now, was the intention of leading a feminist movement for the so-called "emancipation of women" in the church. The church's expectations about the non-ordination of women ministers were neither written nor spoken about. The only ferment was in the minds of those women who wanted to be ordained. - The first woman from Lancaster Theological Seminary to be ordained.

December 2007

Mary Ann Wilner Neevel, Ptaya Owo Owo Klake (Talking Together)/Conversando Juntos 

If an adventure opens up for you that leads you into a larger understanding of the church, go. . . . Long term pastorates – if you can keep yourself finding what is fresh – are an amazing thing to have. You know people from the time you baptize them and marry them then baptize their kids.

November 2007

Anne Pearse Smith, Ministry of Christian Education/Ministerio de Educación Cristiana

Women are a vital part of the church -- not just an appendage. Wherever she went, she gained the confidence of church program participants. Her training and ability to relate to people of all ages overcame the sexist hostility of the 1930s. Although the Navy did not hire its first woman chaplain until the 1970's, she acted as 'chaplain' to the serving women.

October 2007

Henrietta Spring Stith Andrews: A Ministry of Presence/Un ministerio de presencia  

I knew as a young woman that I wanted work where I could have freedom to be myself, work that I could not wait to get up in the morning for and that I didn't mind putting in long hours. God answered those prayers in conference ministry.

September 2007

Marilyn Stavenger: Seminary Professor, Pastor and Advocate/Profesora de seminario, pastora y defensora (de las causas de justicia)

What I knew from early on is that I wanted to help people. I want to communicate that there is no better gift to give than to be there for someone when it really counts. As Eden's Professor of Field Education and the Practice of Ministry (1988-2003), she married her passion for pastoral ministry with seminary work.

August 2007

Barbara Warren McCall: In Her Own Words/En sus propias palabras

Human liberation means just that: full personhood for all. For a number of years, Barbara Warren McCall was a minister-in-waiting. Then she served as a bridge woman who caught the vision of feminism through her own professional pilgrimage.

July 2007

Rosemary McCombs Maxey: Losemale Makomps Makse cvhocefkvtos/Justice Journey

"The justice issue seeks you out," reflected Rosemary McCombs Maxey, first American Indian woman to be ordained in the United Church of Christ. Today she teaches the MVSKOKE language in order to keep it alive. On Mondays, she makes her weekly three-hour drive as chaplain to Native Hawaiians incarcerated at Watonga. "In order to get along, we need not get rid of people's differences but honor them as uniqueness."

June 2007

LaVerne McCain Gill: Ministry of Empowerment/Ministerio de capacitación

Whatever her storytelling form of expression—writing, media production, orating or preaching—LaVerne McCain Gill's lifework offers an invitation to explore. She brings together women of all times with stories that share how oppressed persons, particularly African women and African American women, have met hopelessness with hope.

May 2007

Dosia Carlson: A Christian, an Alleluia/Una cristiana, un aleluya

A disability weaves its way into and through everything that happens in a person's life. It added a particular texture to Dosia's whole be-ing. While only one thread of her unique fabric, her personal battle was to permeate all that she would do and become.

April 2007

Joan Bates Forsberg Bridge to Understanding/Puente al entendimiento

"Out of the blue, I was invited to go to the Divinity School. Twenty-eight women students had told Dean Colin Williams that they needed a faculty woman with whom they could talk "when things are really bad and we need an advocate.' He said, 'You're right.'"

She soon was promoted to Assistant Dean and then to Associate Dean for Student Life, where she continued to advocate for women.

March 2007

Eleanor S. Morrison - Early Sexuality Educator/Educadora de sexualidad temprana

Take a look at this list: Early sexuality educator; advocate for justice for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered community; author; and retreat leader in areas of racial justice, human sexuality, parent effectiveness, feminist theology and spiritual development. That's Eleanor Shelton Morrison!

February 2007

Davida Foy Crabtree - Ministry of the Laity/Ministerio del laicado

I gain my energy from, and give my energy to the wonders of life rather than to our failings as human beings…. When a word needs to be spoken over against some forms of sin or injustice, I do speak it…. Still, I believe that the primary word from God is a word of blessing.

January 2007

Gretchen DeVries - Seed-Planter/Plantadora de semillas

My call to the Christian ministry was a gradual unfolding and awakening. At almost forty, I was reminded that as an individual one must continually plant the seeds that later come to fruition through the work of the Holy Spirit.

December 2006

Ruth C. Duck - Birth of a Hymn/Nacimiento de un himno

I discovered, not without tears and anger, that the church had far to go to be just toward women and other humans. I began to make connections between the church's many masculine images for God and its historic exclusion of women from ministries. Read on to learn what gift she used to make a difference.

November 2006

Rhoda Jane Dickinson - Pastor by Adoption/Pastora por adopción

I was among the earliest clergy women in the Congregational Church. The turn of the century (1900) was a daring, expectant time when "Pioneer Spirit" gained new meaning. Some church members lived a hundred miles from the church. Black Beauty, my pony, and I traveled many miles together visiting them.

October 2006

Laurie Whinnem Etter - A Day in the Life of a Prison Chaplain/Un día en la vida de una capellana de prisiones

As a youth, I could always spot something attractive or positive in whoever it was. I can see the potential.  As a chaplain in a women's prison, I deal with poverty, domestic violence, sexism, child abuse, mental illness and addiction -- all in one place, all the worst issues women have to deal with.