Honoring our Foremothers

Mary Rowe Honoring Marge Wold, in Absentia

March 10, 2010

In her final column, the syndicated columnist, Ellen Goodman, quoted what she had written in 1969. “A female revolution is sweeping the land, in some cases subtle and unspoken and in others dramatic and defiant.”

In 1969 our predecessor church bodies had communities of women and men envisioning and working for the full participation of women. These groups were part of the revolution—subtle and defiant.

From her youth, Marge Wold embodied the subtle and the defiant. In her recent book, A Girl Grows in Old Chicago, she tells the story of her first day in first grade. The children were lined up and told to stay in line. Marge left the line to get a drink of water. She says the teacher yelled at her to get back into line and when they went into the class she was directed to the corner. The teacher brought her a glass of water—she refused it. At the end of the day she refused to leave the corner to which she was assigned—holding on to a metal pipe, she said she wouldn’t leave until her mother came to get her.


She experienced oppression and opposition in many of her efforts and ministries within the church. Her faith said, Christ can liberate you, but her experience said the church can bind you and put you back under the chain.

Serving as executive director of the Lutheran Church Women, she was very aware of the many men in church headquarters who were opposed to any form of women in leadership. When asked what kept her from being bitter or from leaving the church she responded, “I knew Jesus was with me, upheld me and kept me.”

We have no idea of how many people for whom Marge was a mentor, encourager, and challenger. She certainly is a foremother who continues to be at times subtle and unspoken and at other times clear and outspoken.

Thank you, Marge! We wish you could have been here!