Lydia Gruchy was the first woman to be ordained as a minister in The United Church of Canada.
She was born at Asnières, France, on September 5, 1894. She was raised in France and England, and came with her family to Strasbourg, Saskatchewan, in 1913. In 1920, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan. She then studied theology at the Presbyterian College in Saskatoon (now St. Andrew’s College), graduating in 1923. For several years, she served as a lay minister in the rural communities of Saskatchewan.
Gruchy sought ordination in 1926 in the newly formed United Church of Canada; her presbytery petitioned the General Council repeatedly, every two years, showing that she was already doing the work of an ordained minister and that she was clearly qualified. Gruchy was ordained by Saskatchewan Conference in 1936, the year that the Church altered the Basis of Union to allow for the ordination of women.
She served as minister’s assistant at St. Andrew’s United Church in Moose Jaw, then was called to Toronto to serve as secretary to the committee on the deaconess order and women workers in the United Church. Gruchy returned to pastoral work in 1943, and served at various small charges in Saskatchewan for the remainder of her career. After retirement in 1962, she settled in White Rock, BC, and became an active member of First United Church. Lydia Gruchy died on April 9, 1992.
Gruchy is also the first Canadian woman to receive an honorary doctor of divinity degree, which St. Andrew’s College awarded her in 1953.
Duration: 26 minutes