Irish Methodist Church Elects Its First Female Leader

Reverend Dr. Heather Morris

By Adam Farley, Editorial Assistant
August / September 2013

Reverend Dr. Heather Morris was installed as the new president of the Methodist Church in Ireland this June, becoming the first female to hold not only that post, but the first female head of any of Ireland’s four main churches. Dr. Morris was elected to the position last summer, and the confirmation took place at the church’s national conference in Carrickfergus on June 12th. She will serve the usual one-year term.

The 48-year-old reverend was born in Nigeria while her parents were doing missionary work, and was educated in Belfast and Dublin before following her father and grandfather into the Methodist ministry in 1992.

While English Anglicans have been tepid about allowing female bishops, a 2002 Covenant between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland that calls for mutual communion, united congregations, and even joint training of ministers “to encourage mutual understanding at all levels in our churches” has caused some to declare Dr. Morris to be the “first woman Bishop,” according to Sky News.

Dr. Morris pushes back on the import and influence of her gender, telling the Murnaghan Show, “I am happy to stand with where the Methodist Church in Ireland is” on issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and physician-assisted suicide.

“I have said before that my election wasn’t an issue around gender. My experience has been one where, as a woman in ministry, I have been nurtured and encouraged to use the gifts that God has entrusted to me. I see this as just a natural progression.”

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