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On July 29, 2014, the Episcopal Church will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ordinations of the first women as priests. To observe that anniversary, we reached out to women who have served at ASC over the last forty years — as well as those who have been sponsored for ordination and gone on to serve elsewhere — to share their stories. Here is one of them:

Ann Gillespie

All Saints, Pasadena is the nest from which I flew. It was in the particular and savory alchemy of music, social justice, and transformational preaching that my own call to priesthood was born, nurtured by so many incredible women (and a few men!): Franny Hall Kieschnick, Maggie Cunningham, Wilma Jakobsen, Anne Peterson, Zelda Kennedy, Susan Russell and Sarah Nichols to name a few. All Saints was a hard place to leave. There is no other Episcopal church like it.

At first that was a painful reality to accept, but then I kept hearing God’s still, small voice saying, “I didn’t call you to stay at All Saints. I called you to take All Saints out into the world, wherever you are.” Since graduating from seminary in May of 2007, I have served for seven years at Christ Church in Alexandria, VA. I have facilitated a powerful initiative here to explore our welcome and inclusion of LGBT people and presided at the first blessing of a same-gender relationship last spring: a huge step for the parish where George Washington worshipped!

I have developed and taught in several formats my own brand of yoga, meditation and the Holy Spirit, called Finding God in Your Body. Using my multi-cultural training, I have worked for reconciliation between clergy and church musicians, writing and appearing in an award-wining DVD, called Creating Worship that Works. I have preached courageous sermons and led pilgrimages to the Holy Land, all passions that grew from seeds planted in the fertile soil of All Saints, Pasadena.

I now bloom elsewhere, am but fully aware that I am able to do so because of the women whose fearlessness and call to serve God from the other side the altar would not be stopped.