May 23 – Winifred Kiek

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.


Winifred Kiek (née Jackson) (1884-1975), Christian pioneer

Winifred Kiek was born on 27 July 1884 in Chorlton upon Medlock in the County of Lancaster to the north of Manchester, the second child of John Robert Jackson, a wholesale tea dealer, and Margaret Jane, née Harker. The family were Quakers. Elders in her local meeting encouraged Winifred in her ministry. In 1907 she graduated from the Victoria University of Manchester with a Bachelor of Arts degree, won the university prize in logic, and worked as a teacher in the mixed department at Manley Park Municipal School. While travelling in the Swiss Alps in 1909 she met Edward Sidney Kiek (1883-1959), a student for the ministry in the Congregational Church, and after his ordination in 1910 they were married and Winifred became a Congregationalist. Winifred started a family and served as a minister’s wife and lay preacher. In 1919 Edward accepted the position of principal of Parkin College, Adelaide, and Winifred studied theology. In 1923 she was the first woman in Australia to graduate with a Bachelor of Divinity degree from the Melbourne College of Divinity. In 1926 the Colonel Light Gardens Congregational Church asked Winifred to fill the vacant pastorate and on 13 June 1927 she was ordained, the first woman minister in a Christian church in Australia and in a dominion of the British Empire.

Winifred served as minister of Colonel Light Gardens Congregational Church in 1926-33 and Knoxville Congregational Church in 1938-46. She preached regularly in other churches and published sermons in the Christian World Pulpit. She also published a work of religious and parenting advice entitled Child Nature and Child Nurture (1927). Winifred served her denomination with distinction: twice as vice-chairman of the Congregational Union of South Australia in 1944-45 and in 1948-49, and in 1945 as acting chairman. In 1941-46 she was president of the Congregational Women’s Association of Australia and New Zealand, and in 1949 she was a member of the International Congregational Council held at Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA.

Winifred promoted the ordination of women. She was a member of international associations of women ministers. She was also a leading minister and office bearer in many women’s societies including the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the National Council of Women; in 1935-38 she was president of the Women’s Non-Party Association of South Australia. During the 1950s Winifred Kiek served as liaison officer in Australia for the commission on the work of women in the churches of the World Council of Churches and published We of One House (1954). In 1963 the state-based women’s inter-church councils formed Australian Church Women and in 1965 awarded the first Winifred Kiek Scholarship, a training program for young women from Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands in church work and community service. After her husband retired from Parkin College in 1957, Edward and Winifred shared interim pastorates in Queensland and New South Wales; she conducted her final service on 9 March 1975. Winifred Kiek died at ‘Spindrift’, the family holiday home in Victor Harbor, on 30 May 1975, aged 90.

Rev Dr Julia Pitman