Auður Eir Vilhjálmsdóttir always knew she had a call from God. She also knew she would have to wait for the right time to be ordained in Iceland. The first woman to be ordained in Iceland in 1974 actually finished her seminary training in 1962.
At that time, pastors in Iceland were chosen through a general election in the congregation. To be ordained, candidates had to organize a campaign, much like our campaigns for political office, to secure votes. After several failed attempts to become a pastor in the Reykjavik area, Auður Eir was chosen by a congregation in a small rural fishing village. Listen to her tell the story of how she was finally able to serve a church as the first woman pastor in Iceland:
Nearly every woman I interviewed for this project in Iceland mentioned Auður Eir as her inspiration and mentor. Through her education, travel and work with the Lutheran World Federation, Auður Eir brought feminist theology to Iceland. By establishing a Women’s Church, she has worked tirelessly to encourage more gender inclusive language – both in Scripture and hymns.
Here is an example of how she views Psalm 23 through a feminist lens. (From The Friends of Jesus: An Inclusive Version of Selected Texts from the Bible: 1999)
God is my friend who has never failed me.
She walks with me downtown and we go into my favorite restaurant.
We sit by a table next to the window.
She encourages me
And helps me to understand
some of the things I did not understand before.
She is always like that.
Even if I think everything is hopeless
She tells me it ain’t so
It is so great to be in her company
I am no longer afraid of people I was afraid of before
I get a new self-confidence.
Yes, I become sure of the goodness of life.
And she and I will always be friends.