In the 1820s women in the Congregational churches in the Australian colonies were not permitted to speak in church or missionary meetings—they could only whisper the amounts of their offerings into the ears of their husbands or other men who spoke for them. By the 1890s Congregational women held their own missionary meetings, were elected to meetings of their denomination, and were invited to speak in these gatherings on the subject of the role of women in the missionary movement at home and abroad. By the 1920s, inspired by developments in Britain and America, Congregational women advocated the ordination of women to the Christian ministry, and on 13 June 1927 Winifred Kiek, a migrant from England, was ordained in Colonel Light Gardens Congregational Church, Adelaide, South Australia, the first woman ordained in a dominion of the British Empire. Between 1927 and 1977, when the Uniting Church in Australia was founded, fifteen Australian Congregational women were ordained for service in local congregations, the mission field, and theological education.
This is their story.