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“Women as Pastors”: Lynda L. Kelly

Lynda L. Kelly (far right) stands with (L to R) Glenn A. Ginder (executive secretary of the Board for Ministry and Doctrine), Don Shafer (general secretary of the Brethren in Christ Church), Harvey R. Sider (moderator of the Brethren in Christ Church), and her husband Walter Kelly, during her ordination ceremony at Welland (Ontario) Brethren in Christ Church on Nov. 15, 1987. Courtesy of the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives.

The second installment of our four-week series on “Women as Pastors” continues today with a mini-biography of Lynda L. Kelly, the first woman officially ordained by the Brethren in Christ Church.

Her ordination ceremony on November 15, 1987, marked the first time a woman had been recognized officially for pastoral ministry in the Brethren in Christ Church. But by the time that auspicious day arrived, Lynda L. Kelly was already quite familiar with the denomination.

As the Evangelical Visitor records:

A 1967 graduate of Emmanuel Bible College, Kitchener [Ont.], Lynda and [her husband] Walter Kelly were married in 1969. Later that year they, they left the Crossroads Brethren in Christ pastorate in Puslinch, Ont., to serve under Brethren in Christ Missions in Nicaragua. Since their return to Canada in 1974, they have provided pastoral leadership for the Welland congregation.

Another Visitor article tracks the development of Lynda’s interest in pastoral ministry:

For the past several years, Lynda has been pursuing studies in Clinical Pastoral Education. She completed this course in 1986 and has since been employed as Director of Pastoral Care of the Queensway General Hospital and George St. Leger Chronic Care Wing in Etobicoke, Toronto. She now begins a new assignment in her own city as the first Director of Pastoral Care in the Welland County General Hospital.

After more than two decades of fruitful ministry in medical chaplaincy, Lynda recently retired as Coordinator of Chaplaincy Services Ontario, a government-run program that provides professional expertise in the development and implementation of spiritual and religious care policies and provides support and professional consultation for chaplains, institutions, faith communities, and government ministries.

3 responses to ““Women as Pastors”: Lynda L. Kelly

  1. Kudos to Canada for being the first to ordain a BIC woman! And thanks to Lynda Kelly for working through obstacles placed in her way (I’m surmising) to become the first–a good model for the women that followed her.

    Devin–will you highlight the first BIC woman who was ordained and became a BIC pastor? I think it was easier for male denominational leaders to break precedent and ordain a woman who did not have plans to become a church pastor.

    Am I remembering correctly that there was at least one woman (or more?) who was ordained earlier than this time, but it was in Africa, not North America?

  2. Beth: I’m working hard to uncover the identity of the first ordained woman pastor in the denomination, so stay tuned – hopefully I’ll find something before the run of this series is over! And as far as African women pastors before the 1980s: well, I’ll have to talk to Glen Pierce about that one!

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Devin,
    I should have been more clear–I meant North American female missionaries (or at least one) who was ordained. It may have been Frances Davidson but I’m not certain. (That would be way back….) And there was Juana Garcia in Cuba. I don’t know if she was ordained or not. Glen could find answers to that. I also remember something about Naomi Stambaugh(sp?) being the first or one of the first women to be an actual BIC pastor in the U.S. Good luck!

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