Betty Bone Schiess graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1945. She received an
M.A. from Syracuse University in 1947 and a Master of Divinity in 1972 from the
Rochester Center for Theological Studies. In 1972, she was ordained a deacon of the
Episcopal Church in the United States, and ordained as a priest in 1974. The ordination
in 1974 in Philadelphia of eleven women by four inactive priests was deemed "irregular"
in that it was done without approval of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
Subsequently, Schiess and her attorney Constance Cook began a law suit against the
Bishop of the Diocese of Central New York, Ned Cole, charging him with sex
discrimination for refusing to recognize her ordination and preventing her from assuming
the position of a parish priest. The suit was discontinued when the General Convention
in 1975 approved the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church.
Reverend Schiess served as curate at Grace Episcopal Church in Baldwinsville, N.Y. in
1972-1973. From 1973 to 1984, she was Executive Director, Mizpah Educational and
Cultural Center for the Aging in Syracuse; Priest Associate, Grace Episcopal Church,
Syracuse; Chaplain, Syracuse University; and Acting Chaplain, Cornell University. She
was installed as rector of Grace Church, Mexico, N.Y., in 1984 and became Advisor to
Women in Mission and Ministry, Episcopal Church in the United States in 1987.