Ella Niswonger

Ella Niswonger (1865-1944) was the first woman ordained in The United Brethren Church. She graduated from Union Biblical Seminary (now United Theological Seminary) in 1887 and received a quarterly conference license a few months later. Shortly afterward she began working as a pastor in Streator, Ill., where she would work almost continuously until 1940.  She was ordained  an elder in 1889.  The presiding bishop, E. B. Kephart, wrote to his wife about the ordination. “Is this millennium dawning?” he asked. “God grant it.” Niswonger  was the first woman to serve as ministerial delegate to the General Conference held in Frederick, Md., in 1901. 

Want to know more?

Her  biography on the General Board on Archives and History website

Fidelia’s Sisters, an online publication of the Young Clergy Women Project,  gives tribute to Niswonger and other pioneers

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