Queer Places:
24 Burnbank Gardens, Glasgow G20 6HD, UK
Pollokshields Congregational Church Glasgow, Glasgow City, Scotland

Vera Mary Muir Findlay Kenmure (February 13, 1904 – December 27, 1973) was a minister and the first woman ordained to a pastoral charge in a Scottish mainstream denomination. Realizing her vocation while studying Classics at Glasgow University, she was ordained in 1927 and became the first woman to be given pastoral charge of a mainstream church in her native Scotland. Famous for her eloquence, she attracted controversy by insisting that full careers as a mother and a parish minister were not mutually exclusive.

Vera Mary Muir Findlay was born Glasgow 13 Feb. 1904, at 24 Burnbank Gardens, Glasgow, the only child of Viola Craig, and John Bunting Findlay, measurer. Vera Findlay became Dux in English at Hillhead High School, Glasgow and a prize-winner in classics at the University of Glasgow. As a student she began seriously to consider ministry in the Congregational Church, encouraged by the Principal of the Scottish Congregational College, where she studied with distinction 1926-8. A gifted preacher, she so impressed the deacons of Partick Congregational Church that they called her to be their pastor before she had completed her BD degree at the University of Glasgow. Ordained on 1 November 1928, in 1929 she applied for recognition as a minister of the Congregational Union of Scotland (CUS), stimulating great debate about women's ordination within Scottish Protestant churches. On 29 April 1929, the CUS carried a constitutional amendment allowing minister to apply equally to women and men. She remained at Partick until 1934. By that time she had married Colin Frame Kenmure, a Chartered Accountant: some of her congregation (a minority) were implacably opposed to having a married woman as minister, and objections came to a head when she became a mother. In dramatic circumstances, she tendered her resignation, declaring 'a married woman makes an ideal minister. If she is a mother, so much the better, because her gift of understanding is thereby increased' (Sunday Chronicle 1934). Many agreed; they started a new church, led by Vera Kenmure, and in 1936 joined her when she was called to Hillhead Congregational Church. She also served at Pollokshields (1954-68) and regularly preached in pulpits of several denominations. She chaired the management committee of the Scottish Congregational College and, as President of the CUS 1952-3, attended the Church of Scotland General Assembly, although initially refused entrance because of her sex.

She died Aberdeen 27 Dec. 1973.


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