The 'Fully-ordained-meat-pie' Problem: Women Church Workers and Leadership under Australian Democracy

Anne O'Brien


In the first half of the twentieth century most Christian denominations, calling on biblical and traditional authority, excluded women from leadership roles that were equal with men. While women exercised leadership within separate organisations, the idea of ‘organisation’ had different and sometimes contradictory meanings for different denominations, and for volunteers and professionals. ‘Organisation’ could mean vulnerability to intervention and collective strength; openness to new ideas and chain of command. Despite being in organisations that were ultimately subject to male authority, most women in the church found various ways of appealing to, evading, detaching from and living with male authority, and there were some notably sustained expressions of independence.


church, ordination, organisation, missionaries, deaconesses, nuns, volunteers

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