First Ordained Southern Baptist Woman, Addie Davis
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Addie Elizabeth Davis graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1963 and began serving at the Watts Street Baptist Church in Durham, NC. The pastor, Warren Carr, was a theological moderate who preached against segregation and opposed fundamentalism. In 1964, the church ordained Davis despite some internal opposition from members of the ordination committee.

Davis, however, struggled to find a Southern Baptist church willing to hire a female pastor. She spent the rest of her ministry as pastor for the American Baptist Churches in Vermont, Rhode Island, and Virginia. In 1971, the American Baptist Churches of Vermont and New Hampshire named Davis pastor of the year.

Davis' ordination, while it did not attract broader scrutiny at the time, foreshadowed the coming struggle between Southern Baptist conservatives and moderates over the ordination of women, which would play a major role in the split between the progressive Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the more conservative SBC in 1991.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Women and Religion
Baptist Religious Events and People in American History
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Women and Religion in American History
Baptist Religious Events and People in American History
Religious Groups
Baptist Family: Other ARDA Links


Watts Street Baptist Church- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Ildar Sagdejev (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Book/Journal Source(s)
Leonard, Bill, 2005. Baptists in America. New York: Columbia University Press.
Web Source(s)
Allen, Bob. 2014. "N.C. church, first to ordain a woman, calls its first female pastor."
Web Page Contributor
Paul Matzko
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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