Woman Ling, Coralie
- Deaconess, Feminist and Minister
Written by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University
Coralie Ling was born in 1939 in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, the second child of Stanley and Mavis Ling. She became involved in Christian youth groups in her teens, and after teaching for three years following the completion of her BA from the University of Melbourne, was accepted for deaconess training in the Methodist Church. When, in 1966, the church decided to start ordaining women Ling put her name forward. She was sent to Horsham as a provisional minister in 1968 and ordained twelve months later the first woman minister in the Methodist Church in Victoria, and the second in Australia.
The church had embraced female ordination not as ' a feminist push ... [but] more a liberal push for equality between women and men' (Age, 25 October 1994). However, it was as a result of her experiences as an ordained woman that Ling embraced feminism. When her acceptance for ordination was announced the media questioned the 'tall, attractive' 29 year old about her marital intentions (Age, 21 October 1968). The church to which she was appointed in Ballarat wrote to her to say that 'they did not want a minister who was young and a woman'. Struggling to make sense of the resistance she was facing she began reading the secular feminist texts but also seeking out feminist theology (Age, 25 October 1994).
As a minister of the Uniting Church following church union in 1977, Ling was recognised as a leader by both the ordained and lay women working to make the new church's commitment to gender equality a reality. Appointed in 1991 to the Fitzroy Uniting Church, a church known for its feminist and pro-gay stance, she worked with its members to develop a centre for feminist spirituality drawing on feminist theologies and biblical scholarship, and using feminist and inclusive language (Ling, 2001, p. 58). Here she developed women-only services for victims of abuse who felt uncomfortable worshipping in the presence of men. One of her other innovations was to introduce 'croning' ceremonies honouring the acquired wisdom of older women (Age, 3 April 1998).
On the 25th anniversary of her ordination Ling celebrated the increasing numbers of ordained women arguing that their presence made for a more human church, a church that deals openly with our experiences as women, a more relevant church' (Age, 25 October 1994). She retired in 2005 but continues to work with the Jewish Christian Muslim Association, a commitment which she embraced in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
Additional sources: Biographical cuttings on Coralie Ling, Methodist minister, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals, c. 1900 - 2000, 434702; National Library of Australia.
National Library of Australia
- Ling, Coralie, 'Dissident daughters celebrate: Women and worship at Fitzroy Uniting Church, Melbourne, Australia', in Berger, Teresa (ed.), Dissident daughters: Feminist Liturgies in a Global Context, John Knox Press, Westminster, United States of America, 2001, pp. 55-68. Details
- Ling, Coralie, 'Making wide the circle', The Ecumenical Review, vol. 53, no. 1, 2001, pp. 94-96. Details
- Buchanan, Rachel, 'A radical woman of the church', The Age, 25 October 1994, p. 22, http://newsstore.fairfax.com.au/apps/viewDocument.ac?page=1&sy=nstore&kw=coralie+ling&pb=all_ffx&dt=selectRange&dr=entire&so=relevance&sf=text&sf=headline&rc=10&rm=200&sp=nrm&clsPage=1&docID=news941025_0125_1632. Details
- Farouque, Farah, 'Heirs to the Crone', The Age, 3 April 1998, p. 18, http://newsstore.fairfax.com.au/apps/viewDocument.ac?page=1&sy=nstore&kw=coralie+ling&pb=all_ffx&dt=selectRange&dr=entire&so=relevance&sf=text&sf=headline&rc=10&rm=200&sp=nrm&clsPage=1&docID=news980403_0228_9537. Details
- Kenihan, Geoffrey, 'Church will ordain women', The Age, 21 October 1968, p. 1, http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=2xZVAAAAIBAJ&sjid=dZMDAAAAIBAJ&dq=coralie%20ling&pg=3000%2C4359140. Details