Winifred Kiek first woman ordained in Australia, shares progressive outlook

Winifred Kiek, the first woman church minister ordained in Australia in 1927 as pastor of Colonel Light Garden Congregational Union Church.

Winifred Kiek became the first woman ordained in Australia, as pastor of the new Colonel Light Gardens Congregational Union Church in 1927.

In 1923, Kiek had been the first woman to graduate from the Melbourne College of Divinity. She took an MA in philosophy in 1929 at the University of Adelaide.
Kiek had arrived in Adelaide in 1920 to join her husband Edward, who had taken over running Parkin, a Congregational theological college.

As a liberal progressive, Edward Kiek revitalised the South Australian theological world in the 1920s. He founded the interdenominational Adelaide Theological Circle and restated Christian doctrine in the light of modern knowledge.

Kiek was chairman of the Congregational Union of South Australia in 1929-30 and 1950-51. He founded and was president for 37 years of the Round Table Christian Sociological Society. A temperance reformer and opponent of gambling, he was president of the South Australian Council of Churches in 1927-28 and its successor, the United Churches Social Reform Board, in 1946-47. He was also a Freemason.

Winifred Kiek championed sexual equality and the women's movement in South Australia, joining the new National Council of Women. She convened its committee on equal moral standards in 1927-31 and the committee for peace and arbitration in 1938-50. She held office in the Women's Non-Party Association (later League of Women Voters), and the Australian Federation of Women Voters. She was also a member of the Pan-Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association.

After World War II, Kiek became the World Council of Churches’ liaison officer for work among women. In 1953-56 she started the Australian Council of Churches' commission on the co-operation of men and women in the church.

She was twice vice-chairman of the Congregational Union of South Australia and acting chairman in 1944-45. She supported her husband on social questions, especially peace and world federation. They both learned Esperanto.

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