St. Margaret’s Visiting Professorship of Women in Ministry

Women in Ministry Celebration

On November 6, 2014, more than 100 people gathered at CDSP to celebrate the St. Margaret’s Visiting Professorship with speakers, a book talk, Eucharist and a festive dinner. Leaders from across the Anglican Communion sent greetings to the event.

Keynote Address

The Rev. Dr. Paula Nesbitt gave the keynote adderss, titled. “Women Leading Church, Leading Communion: Why Gender Still Matters.” Dr. Matthew Price, vice president for research and data, Church Pension Group, gave the response.

Panel Discussion

Dr. Jenny Te Paa Daniel, the first St. Margaret’s Visiting Professor, facilitated a discussion with Maggie Foster ’16, Richard Hogue ’16, the Rev. Eric Metoyer ’11, and the Rev. Liz Tichenor MDiv ’12, MA ’13.

Book Forum

Professor Te Paa Daniel, one of the editors of Anglican Women on Church and Mission (Church Publishing 2013), led a discussion with co-editors Kwok Pui-lan and Judith Berling.


The St. Margaret’s Visiting Professorship of Women in Ministry honors the legacy of St. Margaret’s House, a school that from 1909-1966 trained deaconesses and lay women for ministry in the Episcopal Church.

In the late 19th century, the Episcopal Church revived the ancient order of deaconess. Women were “set apart” for ministries such as nursing, social service, missionary work, and education of the young.

A school for deaconesses was founded in Berkeley in 1909 as an alternative to the training schools for deaconesses located in the eastern United States. A house purchased for the school became known as St. Margaret’s House, named for the donor’s sister in whose memory the gift had been given. Later, St. Margaret, 11th-century Queen of Scotland, was adopted as patron saint, and the school itself came to be known as St. Margaret’s House.

The school’s first graduate, Deaconess Anita Hodgkin, became its first dean, and under her leadership the school offered both a two-year program for deaconess training and a one-year course of study for women interested in Christian service but not the office of deaconess.

From its earliest years, St. Margaret’s was closely allied with the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. A few CDSP faculty and several graduates taught at St. Margaret’s. In the late 1920s, with the leadership of the second dean, Deaconess Anna Newell, the school purchased a home located within a block of the then-new CDSP campus in Berkeley. Once both schools had settled into their new, adjoining campuses, St. Margaret’s House women began taking theological classes with CDSP seminarians.

St. Margaret’s House flourished in the decades after World War II. But in the 1960s, women and men were advocating for full participation of women in the councils of the Episcopal Church, and women leaders began to suggest the dismantling of parallel structures for women’s service and leadership. In 1966, St. Margaret’s House was closed, and CDSP assumed responsibility for the remaining students and alumnae of St. Margaret’s House. When in 1970 the General Convention eliminated the order of deaconess, women serving in that order became deacons.

Margaret, Queen of Scotland

In about 1070, the Scottish King Malcolm married an English princess, Margaret. She is remembered for her zeal in reforming the church and in encouraging the founding of schools, hospitals, and orphanages. Margaret and Malcolm oversaw the rebuilding of the monastery of Iona, and they founded Dunfermline Abbey, under the direction of Benedictine monks. Margaret died on November 16, 1093, and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey.