The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven

Darlene O’Dell

May/2014, 264 Pages, PAPER, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9781596272583



Forward by Carter Heyward

Darlene O'Dell tells the story of the historic ordination, introducing us to the 11 women involved, the paths that brought them together on that day—and what has changed (or not changed) in the life of the church over the intervening years.

AUDIENCE: For ordained women (and those who wish to be) across denominations, church historians, seminarians, feminists, theologians, and general readers with an interest in this historical development.

Darlene O’Dell published Sites of Southern Memory: The Autobiographies of Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin, Lillian Smith, and Pauli Murray with the University Press of Virginia in 2001 and the novel I Followed Close behind Her with Spinsters Ink in 2003. She
has also published in Cobblestone, written headnotes for The Pearson Custom Library of American Literature, and served as the National Park Service’s head writer for Jamestown Archaeology. She has taught at Clemson University and the College of William and Mary and currently lives in Brevard, North Carolina.

Forty years after the event, few really know the full story of the struggle to ordain the first women priests.  Odell’s book is a gripping read and a telling account that celebrates the courage of all the principled “rule-breakers” who helped to move The Episcopal Church beyond the plea to “study and pray” some more before acting.  It was a bold and risky move, not unlike Jesus overturning the tables in the Temple, and the consequences were almost as dangerous.  Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this narrative, take heart – and give thanks.
—The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori
26th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

With the gifts of a scholar and novelist, Darlene O’Dell has told the story of the Philadelphia Eleven and the Washington Four who defied the Episcopal Church they cherished and shattered the barrier of male priesthood in 1974 and 1975.   If this book is their story, it is also an account of a critical moment in our nation’s history when a group of courageous women challenged theological and cultural patriarchy in a way that may have enraged critics, but ultimately inspired a generation of American women.
—Dan Carter
Education Foundation University Professor Emeritus, University of South Carolina


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