Bartlesville woman to head Disciples of Christ church - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Bartlesville woman to head Disciples of Christ church

Updated:
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Disciples of Christ became the first major U.S. Protestant denomination to elect a woman as its leader Tuesday.

More than 3,000 delegates of the Indianapolis-based church stood to register their ``Yes'' vote for the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins. When no one rose to vote against her, the room erupted in applause.

Some supporters sported T-shirts printed with her photograph. They wiped away tears as Watkins took the microphone and said: ``We are a church whose time has come.''

Adair Lummis, co-author of two studies on women in the clergy and a researcher at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, called it a significant event. There have been women bishops, Lummis said, but never a woman elected to head a mainline Protestant denomination.

``Having a woman ordained _ as wonderful as it is _ doesn't necessarily lead to more women in positions of leadership,'' Lummis said.

Tom Jewell, the regional minister for Oklahoma, where Watkins, 51, is pastor of a church in Bartlesville, said the church's election of a woman as its leader for the next six years ``reflects a great readiness and receptivity to move into the future.''

The 770,000-member denomination was founded on the American frontier. It counts former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson among its past members.
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