Women in Priesthood


esus called people to follow him, be his disciples, and use their gifts for others (Luke 6:12–13). Some are called by God to the priesthood to serve in specific purposes or roles, and each of those represent a different part of Jesus’ ministry. In Community of Christ priesthood is considered a sacred covenant with God and the church. And we recognize the office of member or disciple as having duties and responsibilities that are absolutely essential to the mission of the church.

Both men and women are eligible for priesthood calls. And in the US and several other nations that includes LGBTQ+ folks. If a call is accepted, the individual takes classes to prepare for the sacrament of ordination. The first call to priesthood consists of three classes of preparation. Each call must also be approved by a majority vote of the congregation.

Ordination recognizes the divine initiative to call certain disciples to particular priesthood responsibilities and ministries for the sake of the community, the congregation, and the world. Ordination confers authority on priesthood members according to the responsibilities of their particular priesthood offices. Priesthood members act within the guidelines and setting of the church community, upholding high standards of ministerial ethics and serving with integrity and trustworthiness.

Guided By Principles

Our Enduring Principles define the essence, heart, and soul of our faith community. They describe the personality of our church as expressed throughout the world. These principles inform the approach to priesthood and leadership within Community of Christ.  

The enduring principles of “Worth of All Persons” and “All Are Called” provide a foundation for our belief in gender equality and women in the priesthood within Community of Christ. Gender equality is a fundamental principle of our theology and identity. This commitment to equality extends beyond gender to include other aspects of diversity, such as race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

Worth of All Persons: This principle emphasizes that all individuals have equal and inestimable worth in the eyes of God. It affirms the inherent dignity and value of every person, regardless of gender. Therefore, denying women access to priesthood based on their gender contradicts the principle of equal worth and diminishes their individual and collective worth within the community. Upholding this principle requires challenging unjust systems, including gender-based discrimination, and actively working to restore the worth of all individuals, including women, in the church and society.

All Are Called: This principle underscores the belief that God graces everyone with gifts and opportunities to contribute to the community and fulfill God’s purposes. It acknowledges that both men and women are called to discipleship and ministry in the church. Therefore, denying women access to priesthood roles contradicts the belief that all are called to participate in the work of God. Recognizing and affirming women’s callings to priesthood responsibilities aligns with this principle and reflects a faithful response to God’s call, guided by the Holy Spirit.

These enduring principles affirm the equality and worth of all individuals and emphasize that everyone, regardless of gender, is called to participate in God’s work. Embracing gender equality and women in the priesthood aligns with these principles and fosters a community where all members can fully contribute and participate in fulfilling God’s purposes.

Brief History of Women in Priesthood

Within the Restoration movement, Joseph Smith Jr. advocated for free expression and common consent in decision-making within the church. While early LDS practices reflected this ethos, by the mid-Nauvoo period, ecclesiastical elite rule emerged. 

Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) learned from this and prioritized common consent, leading to women’s enfranchisement in 1868 and significant roles in church governance. Women’s groups like the Society of Gleaners and Sisters of Dorcas emerged, supporting church activities and missions. Marietta Walker’s initiatives, including Zion’s Hope and the Women’s Home Column, fostered communication and unity among women. Despite differing opinions on gender roles, women increasingly impacted church life positively, leading to the formation of the General Council of Women in 1934 under President Frederick M. Smith. This council empowered women, fostering community and resourcefulness in furthering the church’s mission.

Awareness of women’s issues grew with articles in the Saints Herald and the development of the Women’s Ministries Commission. Marjorie Troeh and other female leaders fostered dialogue. In 1980, the World Conference rejected a motion against women’s ordination but requested a survey on members’ views. Results showed one third supported women’s ordination. 

On April 3, 1984, President Wallace B. Smith presented an inspired document to the World Conference.The ninth paragraph provided for the ordination of women. That document is now known as Doctrine and Covenants 156. Community of Christ has long embraced the ordination of women to the priesthood. Women have been serving as ordained ministers, priests, and bishops since the 1980s.

Priesthood for women was once unthinkable but now normalized. This change fostered inclusivity and prepared the church for greater acceptance of LGBT members. Common consent empowered women and fostered inclusivity, affecting lives worldwide, regardless of background. It symbolized the church’s journey toward greater equality and acceptance for all.

Prominent Women in Priesthood Offices

Women in Community of Christ actively participate in various leadership roles at all levels of the church, including local congregations, mission centers, and world church leadership. They serve as pastors, evangelists, mission center presidents, and members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency. 

This inclusion reflects a commitment to gender equality and recognizes the spiritual gifts and callings of both men and women. Here we have equal access to participate in all sacraments and rituals of the church, including the administration of the Lord’s Supper (Communion), baptism, and blessings of healing and ordination.

This contrasts with some other Christian denominations which teach a doctrine of complementarity, emphasizing the unique roles and responsibilities of men and women within the family and the church. In this model, while women are valued for their nurturing and supportive roles, ultimate decision-making and priesthood authority rest with men.

Representation in the World Church Priesthood

Women in priesthood roles exist at every level and committee of Community of Christ. Our World Leadership Council includes many talented and spiritually gifted women, including: 
  • Stassi Cramm, President-Designate
  • Carla Long, Counselor to the Presiding Bishop
  • Mareva Arnaud Tchong, Apostle, President
  • Janné Grover, Apostle
  • Robin Linkhart, Apostle
  • Catherine Mambwe, Apostle
  • Shandra Newcom, Apostle
  • Angela Ramirez de Hernandez, Apostle
  • Karin Peter, Senior President of Seventy
  • Jane M. Gardner, Presiding Evangelist
  • Katie Harmon-McLaughlin, Director of Formation Ministries

Local Utah Women in Priesthood

Each of our Utah congregations (Salt Lake, Ogden, and Utah County) enjoy the ministry and leadership of women serving on their Pastorate Teams.