INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Annual Conference meeting in Indianapolis May 29-31 endorsed a new Historic Landmark in Indiana to recognize the “Helenor M. Alter Davisson Cluster” of sites.

In 1866, the Rev. Helenor Alter Davisson became the first woman to be ordained a deacon in any branch of The United Methodist Church in the United States. This occurred in Jasper County, Indiana, near Rensselaer. She was the daughter of an early Methodist Circuit Rider. Also documented are the five sites that remain intact, including:

  • Helenor’s grave at Sandridge Cemetery in Barkley Township;
  • The large stone house on the Alter farm in Carpenter Alter Davisson Township;
  • The graves of the Rev. John Alter and other family members, also on the Alter farm;
  • The former Methodist Protestant church in Rensselaer (now the museum of the Jasper County Historical Society); and
  • The Rosebud Schoolhouse, once a preaching point on the Grand Prairie circuit, which has now been moved to the county fairgrounds and is preserved by the Jasper County Historical Society.

If the Heritage Landmark status is granted by General Conference in 2016, this historical event will become a part of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission’s 2016 Celebration.

Currently, there are 46 designated United Methodist Landmark Heritage sites in the United States – none in Indiana.

The Indiana Conference will celebrate the 148th anniversary of Helenor’s election to deacon’s orders Sunday, Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. CDT, 2 p.m. EDT, at the Brushwood United Methodist Church seven miles north of Rensselaer, Ind., near Helenor’s grave site where the Historic Site marker will be placed. The marker comes from the General Commission on Archives and History, based in Madison, N.J. Bishop Mike Coyner will be present to lead in the observance.

For more information about women in ministry, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordination_of_women_in_the_United_Methodist_Church.


The Rev. Helenor Alter Davisson, in 1866, became the first woman to be ordained a deacon in any branch of The United Methodist Church in the United States.


 

Davisson