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2011-07-01 issue:

Banks first Mennonite woman ordained in NYC in 100 years

by Kenneth L. Thompson

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Addie Banks, a pastor at King of Glory Tabernacle in the Bronx, was ordained for ministry on June 18 at Riverside Church, New York City.

Banks is the first woman to be formally ordained for ministry in a Mennonite Church USA congregation in New York City since 1911. 

There had only been one other Mennonite woman, Ann J. Allebach, ordained by Eastern District Conference for ministry in the New York City area, 100 years ago. 

Banks also serves as a member of the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board.

The service was officiated by leaders of Atlantic Coast Conference and Lancaster Mennonite Conference, the NYC Mennonite Oversight Council, Iglesia Mennonita Hispana, and attended by representative members of Mennonite Church USA Executive Board, Janeen Bertsche Johnson and Kenneth Thompson. 

Thompson also represented African-American Mennonite Association and Mennonite Church USA Intercultural Relations Reference Committee.

Bishop Michael Banks, Addie’s husband, said that this ordination is also significant because it is “true to the spirit of Anabaptist/Mennonite theology which urges us to search the Scriptures and apply it in present time. This is a faithful response to God’s call to do justice and express His progressive revelation.”

The speaker for the evening, Sister Terry Ricard ODM, taking her text from Paul’s words in Philippians 3, encouraged Addie and everyone to believe “the sufferings of Christ yield both the likeness and the newness of His life within us.”

Ricard went on to compare Banks’ life to this point as a daffodil flower growing up amidst an open lot strewn with debris. And how, like that flower, Addie has grown, pushed through and up past racism, sexism, and poverty.

Along with the ordination license from area bishops, Addie received a quilted mantle made by several women to commemorate this historic step.

Lancaster Mennonite Conference bishops Keith Weaver and Dale Stoltzfus followed with a statement of resolution on behalf of their conference that officially recognized and affirmed her call unto full pulpit ministry in Mennonite Church USA.

Barbara Bethea, poetess in New York City, wrote a poem, "For the Ordination of Minister Addie Sanders Banks." Click here to read the poem.

Reader Comments

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  • Posted by bruder4321 at Monday, July 04, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    Arlene Pipkin was ordained by The Atlantic Coast Conference of The Mennonite Church for ministry having served Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship as minister in the spring of 2002 shortly before her death on Easter Sunday 2002.

    Merv Horst. Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship

  • Posted by Charlie Kraybill at Wednesday, July 06, 2011 at 09:57 AM

    Ann Allebach was certainly a trailblazer for Mennonite women. But Ann's ordination never resulted in her becoming pastor of a Mennonite church, in the NYC area or anywhere. There were no Mennonite churches in NYC back then, and wouldn't be for several more decades. In the final two years of her life, 1916-1918, Allebach served as pastor of a Reformed congregation in Sunnyside, Queens. That church still exists at 4803 Skillman Avenue.

  • Posted by wltyson at Tuesday, August 09, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Merv Horst is correct. Arlene Pipkin was ordained by Atlantic Coast Conference on Sunday, March 17, 2002 at Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship, Manhattan, NY. Arlene served as pastor at Manhattan from July 1, 2000 until her death the end of March 2002. Warren Tyson, ACC Executive Conference Minister

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