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Shirley & Mary Greene

Shirley
& Mary
Greene

ECCLESIASTICAL "BUREAUCRAT" AND PIONEER WOMAN MINISTER

Honored September, 1988

Shirley & Mary Greene

Mary's history has been a history of taking small, struggling churches and then building them up," said Shirley Greene. Shirley's real strength is "as an organizer and program planner," said Mary Greene. "That was where we needed to have his energies."

Mary was ordained as a minister in the Congregational Church (now the United Church of Christ) over forty years ago, which makes her something of a pioneer. "I always knew if I'd been a boy, I'd be an ordained minister...I know what it is to be shut out. I was ordained back in the days before women were being ordained."

Born in Portland, Oregon in 1915, Mary lost her father early. Her mother was left with eight young children to raise. There was no money for college. Mary was thirty by the time she graduated from Pacific University.

She was the only woman preparing for the ministry at the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology in Ohio. Even before she'd taken her degree, she was called to serve a small congregation in tiny Craig, Colorado. It gave her a chance, she recalls, "to try out whether or not I could be a pastor. A woman minister was quite a novelty. People came to church out of curiosity."