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Reverend Winifred Kiek

In 1927, Reverend Winifred Kiek was the first woman to be ordained to the ministry of any church in Australia.

Honour Roll

Winifred Kiek was born in Manchester to a tea salesman and his wife who were frugal Quakers. At sixteen, she won a scholarship to Manchester Pupil Teacher Training Centre. In 1907, she graduated from the Victoria University of Manchester with a Bachelor of Arts, having won the university prize in logic. She became a schoolteacher and soon met and married Edward Kiek in 1911.

Edward had just been ordained and from 1913 preached at a Congregational Church in Yorkshire. Winifred embraced her husband's beliefs. He preached liberal evangelical Christianity and socialism as 'the gospel in action' and he denounced militarism. She had a daughter and two sons during this period. In 1920, they travelled to Adelaide where Edward had been appointed principal of Parkin College, a small Congregational theological institution.

Winifred studied theology and in 1923 became the first woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Divinity from the Melbourne College of Divinity. She then went on to study for a MA in philosophy at the University of Adelaide. Winifred also published a book on child rearing, Child Nature and Child Nurture (1927).

Winifred had some experience at public speaking from Quaker meetings and Congregational churches. In 1926, she started preaching in the new Colonel Light Gardens Congregational Union Church and the following year became its pastor, thus making her the first woman in Australia to be so ordained. She preached there until 1933. She served as pastor to the Knoxville Congregational Church from 1938-46.

From the time she arrived in Adelaide, Winifred was active in the women's movement, first joining the National Council of Women. She also held office in the Women's Non-Party Association and in the Australian Federation of Woman Voters as well as other groups. After World War II, she became the World Council of Churches' liaison officer in Australia to work among women. She wrote a book, We of One House (1954) about the co-operation of men and women in the Church.

Her other main cause was that of peace and she was a key figure in the Peace Week organised by the International Peace Campaign in 1938. In 1965, she established the Winifred Kiek scholarship to provide Christian training in Australia for Asian and Pacific women. After her husband died in 1959, she retired. Winifred died on 23 May 1975 at Victor Harbour.