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Movie Matinee: The Philadelphia Eleven

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Movie Matinee: The Philadelphia Eleven

January 21 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Exclusion of women from ordination and other church leadership roles made headlines earlier this summer when the Southern Baptist Convention banned women from the most senior leadership roles. Women in many parts of the Christian church continue a struggle for full inclusion in the sacraments and leadership of the church, a struggle that some women started 50 years ago.

In 1974, there was a dramatic breakthrough of the so-called stained glass ceiling that gave hope to Christian women everywhere. At a church in Philadelphia, a group of eleven women were ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in violation of the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church – which at the time stated that only men were eligible for ordination. This story is told in a compelling new documentary The Philadelphia Eleven.

The feature documentary film will screen at The Chapel of the Cross on Sunday, January 21 at 1:00 p.m. in the Parish Hall.

This film tells a story that continues to resonate today as women seeking ordination continue to face resistance, disrespect and exclusion from roles reserved by men for men. The documentary explores the lives of these remarkable women who succeeded in transforming an age-old institution despite the threats to their personal safety and the risk of rejection by the church they loved. These women became and remain an inspiration for generations of women in the ministry, and a clarion call for the entire Christian Church.
The Rev. Nancy H. Wittig is one of the Philadelphia Eleven featured in the movie. “It’s amazing that women are still fighting for rights in the church, and continuing to feel blowback, similar to what we experienced 49 years ago,” she reflected, and then went on to comment, “we are proud of the changes we have accomplished through our priesthood and the ordinations in Philadelphia.”

The film’s director, Margo Guernsey, is not Episcopalian. She reminds others, “this is a story for all of us. It is about how to break down barriers with grace and be true to oneself in the process. This story reveals ways in which voices that are inconvenient, are often buried. It also provides a vision for what a just and inclusive community looks like in practice.”

This screening will be held with members of The Church of the Holy Family, The Church of the Advocate, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, and feature a panel discussion afterwards.


January 21
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm


The Chapel of the Cross
304 E Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
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