First Black Woman Ordained as a Lutheran Pastor, Rev. Earlean Miller, Dead at 78

First Black Woman Ordained as a Lutheran Pastor, Rev. Earlean Miller, Dead at 78

In 1979, the Rev. Earlean Miller became the first African-American woman ordained a pastor in all of Lutheranism in North America, according to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The Rev. Earlean Miller was the first African-American woman ordained a Lutheran pastor in North America.

“To those of us who came after her, she was a real road-paver,” said the Rev. Cheryl Stewart Pero, director of the Rev. Albert Pero Multicultural Center of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Rev. Miller, who had dementia, died Nov. 10 at the Alden Princeton health-care center on the South Side. She was 78.

In 1979, she became the first African-American woman ordained in the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), the largest of three denominations that later combined to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ELCA has more than 3.8 million members across the United States and the Caribbean. With nearly 10,000 congregations, it is the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States, said Jan Boden of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Rev. Miller also was the first African-American woman ordained in Lutheranism in the history of North America, according to Joel Thoreson, an ELCA archivist.

Beyond that, she “was the first in all the [denominations] in Africa and the Americas,” according to Pero.

Rev. Miller was greeted with excitement in the mid-1990s when she attended a conference of International Black Lutherans in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Pero said.

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Source: Chicago Sun Times | MAUREEN O’DONNELL

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