Interested in women in the church?


The Movement for the Ordination of Women (MOW) operated between 1979 and 1994 with the primary purpose of campaigning for women to become priests in the Church of England. They wanted a fully shared ministry of men and women in the Church of England. Some even wanted MOW to explore the opportunity to create new patterns of liturgy, perhaps new forms of a Christian Community.
In 1979, membership was around 100 which increased to 10,000 supporters by 1992. They were women and men, lay and ordained, Anglican and other denominations, from the UK and abroad. They supported the cause in a number of ways: financially, and by helping to raise consciousness and giving information on intention to vote prior to the Synod voting.
The papers of MOW date from 1940s to the mid-1990s and cover the period leading up to its formation and the everyday running of the organisation. It contains documentary materials, administrative and financial papers, correspondence, photographs, news cuttings, publicity, publications and ephemera.
This material offers a close look at the path taken by women to the priesthood in the Church. It covers themes such as gender inequality, leadership in the church, campaigning strategies, lobbying, amongst others. Publicity materials were core elements to the organisation’s activities and these were produced in large numbers. In 1989 an external advertising company, GGK London, volunteered to help with the campaign, which initially targeted members of General and Deanery Synods. GGK then offered to keep up the momentum, to move the issue from the fringe to the mainstream, and spell out the positive side of the campaign: the benefits for the church. MOW’s campaign was successful and the first women priests were ordained in March 1994.

The MOW archive is now freely available to research at LSE Library. Are there any academics who would like to use this archive in their own research and teaching? Or postgraduates looking for a research topic?  We’d like to hear from you.  Contact Gillian Murphy to find out more.