Clax [Monro, the rector at the time] appointed Bob Evans to chair a search committee and the work began. Members visited other churches to hear their candidates, and received recommendations from parishioners. Helen Havens, an assistant at St. Francis, was recommended and some members of the committee were alarmed. The idea of a woman rector was very new. In fact, there were not women rectors in the Diocese of Texas and very few in the United States. Three members of the committee agreed to meet the prospect and were quickly convinced that she was the best choice. After numerous meetings, debates, and prayers, the vestry finally and miraculously recommended that the church call Helen Havens. The Vestry vote was close, but favorable, and Bob Evans and Sidney Mitchell called on Bishop Benitez to request the call. The Bishop was concerned about St. Stephen's choice and took the unusual step of requiring the Vestry to reconsider its vote. The Vestry met again and voted with a greater majority to sustain its original vote. Messrs. Evans and Mitchell met again with the Bishop who was still concerned and again asked the Vestry to reconsider its action. At this, Bob Evans said that he would comply, but that he wanted the Bishop to explain to the Vestry why he wanted another vote. This ended the matter, and Helen Havens was called to St. Stephen's. The first woman to be called as rector to a parish in the Diocese of Texas, Helen began her ministry with us on Thanksgiving Day, 1981.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
AN ORDINATION ANNIVERSARY: 4/29/77
This is the 2,000th post for Blazing Indiscretions! And what a better way than to celebrate this anniversary: On April 29, 1977, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas ordained its first woman priest, Helen Havens. In 1981 St Stephens parish at Woodhead and W. Alabama, Houston - where I was a member - was the first church in the Diocese of Texas with the vision to call a woman rector. Guess who? From the parish history pages: