Records of the Society for the Ministry of Women in the Church

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 5SMW
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      4 A boxes

Scope and Content

The archive consists of:

* Administrative papers (1964-2004)

* minutes of Annual General Meetings and related papers (1977-2004)

* minutes of Executive Committee meetings (1938-2000)

* Financial papers (1982-2004)

* Papers relating to the Ecumenical Network of Women's Ministries (2003-2004)

* Publications (1966-2004)

Administrative / Biographical History

The Society was founded in 1929 as The Society for the Ministry of Women (Interdenominational) to campaign for the admission of women to all official ministry in the Church upon equal terms with men. Agnes Maude Royden (1876-1965) was a founder and first President. Men and women from different denominations, and therefore with different doctrinal perspectives on the ordination of women, were welcome as members. It changed its name to the Society for the Equal Ministry of Men and Women in the Church (Interdenominational) in 1942 and again in 1957 to The Society for the Ministry of Women in the Church (Interdenominational). In Nov 1992 the General Synod of the Church of England voted to allow women to be ordained as priests. With more churches ordaining women, the Society decided to work together for the ministry of the whole people of God and to foster initiatives and exchange experiences in the area of women's ministry - lay and ordained. From 2001, the main thrust of the campaign work concerned the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox and Oriental Churches, with emphasis on ecumenical networking and mutual support. From 1998, the Society sponsored the Ecumenical Coalition of Women Ministers, a small committee made up of two people each from Catholic Women's Ordination, Methodist Women's Forum, Women in Ministry Network of the United Reformed Church, and Women and the Church (WATCH) to enable liaison among these organised groups of women in ministry. Towards the end of the 20th century, interest in the Society declined. It was decided in 2003 to change its name to the Ecumenical Network for Women in Ministry and to move away from a membership organisation to the creation of a network through a mailing list with an annual event for sharing information. This was not successful and the Network was brought to an end in Jan 2005.


The archive has been arranged into 6 series:

5SMW/01 - Administrative papers

5SMW/02 - Annual General Meetings

5SMW/03 - Executive Committee Minutes

5SMW/04 - Financial papers

5SMW/05 - Papers relating to the Ecumenical Network of Women's Ministries

5SMW/06 - Publications

Access Information

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

The Society for the Ministry of Women in the Church deposited the archive with the Library in Apr 2002, Feb 2005 and Apr 2006.

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library Catalogue

Custodial History

Acc 2002/16 were housed by the Wesley and Methodist Studies Centre, Westminster Institute of Education, Oxford Brookes University, from 1998 to 2002 (ref: 1998/29).

Related Material

The Women's Library also hold the Records of the Anglican Group for the Ordination of Women to the Historic Ministry of the Church, (5AGO); the Records of the Movement for the Ordination of Women (6MOW); the papers of Everild Feeny (7EMF); the papers of Ursula Roberts Women (7URO); and the papers of Victoria Lidiard (7VLI).