Female clergy of various faiths topic of program


Rabbis, Protestant ministers and a Roman Catholic bishop will lead a public discussion of "Women in the Clergy," beginning at 2 p.m. June 25 at the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue, 11 Lloyd St.

A century of changing roles for women in various faith traditions -- both those, such as mainline churches, with large numbers of ** female clergy and those in which the ordination of women is prohibited -- will be explored by the panel.

Co-sponsors of the free program, made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, are the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland and the Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary's Seminary and University.

Rabbi Shira Lander will be the moderator. The speakers will be Rabbi Yitzchok Breitowitz of Woodside Synagogue in Silver Spring, who is an associate law professor at the University of Maryland; the Rev. Mary Morgan of Bethel Presbyterian Church in White Hall; Auxiliary Bishop P. Francis Murphy of the Baltimore archdiocese; Rabbi Gila Ruskin of Baltimore's Congregation Chevrei Tzedek; and the Rev. Alfreda L. Wiggins of John Wesley United Methodist Church in Baltimore.

The program was planned in conjunction with an exhibit, "Daughter of Zion: Henrietta Szold and American Jewish Womanhood," in the Jewish Historical Society's museum and research center adjacent to the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Henrietta Szold, who died in 1945 at 85, was the first woman to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where she attended classes from 1903 to 1907. She was admitted on the condition that she would never pursue a rabbinical career.

Today, Judaism's Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative branches -- but not the Orthodox -- ordain women, and increasing numbers of women clergy are ministering in various Christian denominations.

While the possibility of ordaining women is widely discussed by the Catholic laity, Pope John Paul II has declared it theologically impossible and has sought to put a lid on such discussions. Baltimore's Bishop Murphy is one of a very few members of the world's Catholic hierarchy who have publicly supported the idea of female priests.

Opposition to women as pastors has been a central part of the conservative movement that has come to power in recent years in the Southern Baptist Convention, largest of the nation's Protestant denominations. Polls and votes suggest that about 55 percent of evangelical Christians still oppose the ordination of women.

The Jewish Historical Society is an agency of the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary at its annual meeting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Temple Oheb Shalom, 7310 Park Heights Ave.

The Lloyd Street museum is open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Parking is free.

Information: 732-6400.

Racial reconciliation

"More than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel," a book by a black-white ministerial team working in Mississippi, will be the focus of three evening programs on successive Wednesdays beginning June 21 at West Baltimore's Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church.

The 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. discussions of the book by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice will be led by the Rev. Anita Hendrix, pastor of the church at Edmondson Avenue and Winans Way, and Marilyn McCraven, Other Voices editor of The Evening Sun. Child care will be provided.

Information: 566-2926.

United Methodists

The Rev. Bernard Keels of Baltimore and laywoman Sandra Ferguson of Westminster have been elected by the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church to lead a 20-person delegation to next year's General Conference of the denomination in Denver.

Among the 10 ministers chosen as delegates to the April 16 to 26 meeting were Terri Rae Chattin of Arnold; Frank Trotter of Reisterstown; Peggy Johnson of Baltimore and J. Philip Wogaman, pastor of the church in Washington regularly attended by President and Mrs. Clinton.

Lay delegates from the Baltimore area will be Christine Keels, Dottie Clark and Mary Baldridge.

The church's General Conference meets every four years to vote on institutional, theological and social questions.

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