The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven

Revised and Expanded 50th Anniversary Edition

Darlene O'Dell

Jun/2024, 320 Pages, Paperback, 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN-13: 9781640657199



Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ordinations of “The Philadelphia Eleven,” this expanded and revised edition serves as the definitive account of the courageous women who shattered stained glass ceilings and sparked a global movement to revolutionize faith and society.

Nearly fifty years after eleven audacious women made history as the first female priests ordained in the Episcopal Church, Darlene O'Dell revisits their inspiring journey in a revised and expanded edition of her acclaimed The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven. Through extensive interviews and tireless archival research, this definitive account was the first to vividly resurrect the pivotal moment that tore down barriers and changed the Episcopal Church forever. Both critics and scholars hailed the book, calling it “a needed history and a brilliantly told tale” (Mary E.Hunt) and “enthralling reading…O'Dell certainly has the novelist's gift of making her story come alive and in maintaining her readers' interest” (Bernard Palmer). Now fresh interviews unveil dozens of never-before-told perspectives, while updated chapters lend contemporary relevance to a history we can't afford to forget. Additionally, the author has included exclusive conversations with one of the “Washington Four,” a chapter on the impactful Barbara Harris, and insights into the wider Anglican church's role in what is now universally considered a landmark event.

This edition doesn't just look back; it casts a critical eye on what's changed and what hasn't, questioning the patriarchy that persists in faith institutions and how these ordinations echo in today's political culture. Both an intimate character study and a sweeping examination, The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven is a renewed call to understand our past in order to better navigate our collective future.

Darlene O'Dell has published several books and has served as the National Park Services head writer for Jamestown Archaeology. She has taught at Clemson University and the College of William and Mary and currently lives in Brevard, North Carolina.


Foreword to the 2014 Edition by Carter Heyward

Introduction to the 2024 Edition of The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven

  1. July 29, 1974
  2. The Deacons’ Tale, Part I
  3. The Deacons’ Tale, Part II
  4. The Gathering
  5. “That Great Gittin’ Up Morning”
  6. The Bishops’ Tale, Chicago
  7. The Priests’ Tale
  8. Wind Shear
  9. Letters, Scarlet and Otherwise
  10. The Trials, Part I:“Adjectives Are Always Dangerous”
  11. The Trials, Part II: But Conjunctions?
  12. The Washington Four
  13. “Thoroughly Stunned”: The General Convention of 1976
  14. “Against All Odds”: Barbara Harris and Florence Li Tim Oi
  15. The Journey Continues





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