The Episcopal Diocese of Maine will be screening “The Philadelphia Eleven” in person, in Portland, Maine on Tuesday, May 14 at 7 p.m. at the Nickelodeon Cinemas (1 Temple St.) in Portland at 7 p.m.

Exclusion of women from ordination and other church leadership roles made headlines in 2023 when the Southern Baptist Convention banned women from the most senior leadership roles. Women in many parts of the Christian church continue a struggle for full inclusion in the sacraments and leadership of the church, a struggle that some women started 50 years ago.

In 1974, there was a dramatic breakthrough of the so-called stained glass ceiling that gave hope to Christian women everywhere. At a church in Philadelphia, a group of 11 women were ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in what was seen as a violation of the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church—which at the time stated that only men were eligible for ordination. This story is told in “The Philadelphia Eleven.”

Read more in this Portland Press Herald article.

Join us for the panel discussion following the movie featuring:

The Rev. Merrill Bittner
One of the Philadelphia 11, the Rev. Merrill Bittner served in the Diocese of Rochester from 1973 to 1976, including a 1973-1975 term as an associate at Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Webster, New York. After moving to Maine, she worked as a hospital chaplain and served at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Rumford from 2001-2006. She married Nancy Noppa, a college friend with whom she had traveled the United States, in 2013.

The Rev. Sukie Curtis
In 1984, the Rev. Sukie Curtis became the first woman ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Mississippi. Massachusetts Bishop Coburn, who ordained her, was president of the House of Deputies when women’s ordination to the priesthood was canonically approved in 1976. Sukie served as rector at parishes in Massachusetts and Maine before choosing to leave the priesthood in 2008, a decision that gave her space and freedom to revisit and begin to reframe her experience of sexual exploitation around the time of her ordination. She was reinstated to the priesthood in 2019.

The Rev. Portia Royall Hirschman
East Boothbay native, the Rev. Portia Royall Hirschman was the first woman to graduate from Purdue University’s Construction Engineering Program and spent 25-plus years in the construction area in and around Indianapolis. She was active in her local church and advocated for the ordination of women at diocesan conventions because a few of her friends felt called. One of them was the Rev. Jackie Means, the first regularly ordained woman in The Episcopal Church. It was another 10 years before Portia followed her own call. She was ordained in 1993 and served congregations in Indiana and Maryland before retiring in 2014 and moving to Scarborough. She is an active member of St. Mary’s, Falmouth, and does supply work there and around the state.

The Rev. Cn. Nancy Moore
A lifelong Mainer, the Rev. Cn. Nancy Moore was ordained a priest in 2002. She served as vicar of the Episcopal Congregations of Piscataquis County from 2001 to 2014. She then accepted an experimental call to be both pastor of Trinity Lutheran in South Paris and priest at Christ Episcopal Church in Norway, before becoming the full-time priest-in-charge for Christ Church in 2021. Nancy has served the diocese as president of the Standing Committee, co-chair of Diocesan Council, and a member of the Finance Committee. She currently serves on the Task Force on Evangelism.

The Rev. Dr. Vicki Lovely Smith
The Rev. Dr. Vicki Lovely Smith was born and raised in central Maine. She was ordained a priest at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland on Dec. 8, 1984, so considers herself part of the second generation of women priests in the Episcopal Church. She has served as a parish priest and regional dean in several dioceses across the country, including Ohio, Southern Ohio, North Carolina and Kansas. In May of 2022 she retired from full-time parish ministry and returned to Maine with her husband, Kevin. She now serves as part-time rector of St Martin Episcopal Church in Palmyra.

Purchase your ticket ($15) today at the Nickelodeon website!


*We want you to attend! If cost or the Nick’s website for purchasing tickets presents any difficulty, please be in touch with Teresa Pinney, 207-772-1953 x132, for an alternate arrangement. There is also a $45 stipend for childcare, if needed. Please arrange this with Lauralee Raymond, 207-772-1953 x125.

Nickelodeon Cinemas
1 Temple St
Portland, ME 04101