Rev Esther Jamieson made history last week as she became the first-ever woman minister to represent Church of Scotland congregations from the Isle of Lewis at the General Assembly.
Lewis Presbytery has never had a woman attending on their behalf at the Kirk’s annual gathering in Edinburgh – spanning all the way back to the Reformation in 1560.
Women elders have been legal in the national church since 1966, and women ministers followed two years later.
Lewis Presbytery has the unique stance of being the only Church of Scotland Presbytery not to have any women ministers or elders in their congregations.
At last year’s General Assembly, a former Moderator said that ministers and elders who discriminate against women should leave the Kirk if they are unwilling to adhere to Church of Scotland law.
Very Rev David Lacy described those who refuse to accept women into positions of leadership as “grumbling grunters” and “oddballs” who operated “antiquated gangsterism”.
After being restricted in the Western Isles as to where she could preach during a Moderatorial visit, Very Rev Lorna Hood also said she had been a victim of sexism in the Kirk.
Mrs Hood called on men within these presbyteries, such as Lewis, to fight discrimination by giving their support to women who wanted to become elders or even train for the ministry.
The Church of Scotland’s General Assembly passed legislation in 2007 that banned any discrimination on grounds of gender.
Despite this, it is estimated there are up to 30 parishes across the country out of 1,400 that have no female elders – most on the Isle of Lewis.