Maud Keister Jensen (1904-1998) was the first woman to receive full clergy rights and conference membership in the Methodist Church. Jensen began teaching Sunday school in a Methodist Church at age 12 and became interested in missionary work while attending Bucknell University. The Methodist Church sent her to Korea after her 1926 graduation. Jensen received a license to preach in 1929 and was ordained a deacon in the Central Pennsylvania Conference in 1948. She became an ordained elder in 1952 and taught in the Methodist Theological Seminary in Korea. Prior to 1956, women were allowed to preach in the United States and to be ordained, but without full conference membership they could not vote in their annual conferences and were not guaranteed appointments. After the General Conference decision, the order in which the first women were accepted into full connection depended on when their conferences met. The board of missions sent her a wire in Korea to notify her that she had been the first, to which she responded, “ I am deeply grateful for the privilege, but the honor was completely unexpected and due entirely to the early meeting of my Annual Conference. I feel that Georgia Harkness and other active women ministers deserve first recognition after their long struggle and able contributions to the church.” Jensen spent 40 years as a missionary in Korea before returning to the United States and earning a PhD from Drew Theological School at the age of 74.
Want to know more?
Read excerpts from the United Methodist Women's Oral History Project interview of her.
Read the obituary by United Methodist News Service
The Susquehanna Conference offers a scholarship for women seminarians in her name.