Former St. Andrew's Church Priest Inducted into Women's Hall of Fame

Lynn Eastman Bowdish was working at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in San Bruno when she was ordained as one of the first female Episcopal priests.

An Episcopal priest who was recently inducted into the San Mateo County Women’s Hall of Fame has deep roots in San Bruno.

Lynn Eastman Bowdish was one of the first women ordained as an Episcopal priest and has been serving Daly City, San Bruno and northern San Mateo County for the past 50 years.

Besides being involved in ministry for so long and being a trendsetter, Bowdish is known for her work in helping to build churches.

That work started at in 1975 when she was sent to the church to do field work. She worked under Rector John Powell, and then she was ordained as a deacon and eventually a priest.

“Up to that point, men had been in charge of parishes,” Bowdish said in a recent interview. “It was a bit strange at that time."

In 1980, she was sent to St. Elizabeth’s Church in South San Francisco, which had fallen on hard times.

“The challenge I had there was that there were 17 people in pews and the church was all broken down—it needed a lot of repair,” Bowdish said. “And it was strange to send a woman there not just to rebuild the congregation but to rebuild the church.”

But Bowdish said she had no problem rolling up her sleeves and finding a way to complete her task. That’s what she did.

Even in her older years, she has served the church, helping to build other congregations.

When she was 72, she volunteered fulltime as the assistant priest at St. Martin Episcopal Church in Daly City where she helped the vicar develop and rebuild the congregation following a devastating fire.

Besides being a minister, Bowdish has also been a life-long promoter of healthy living, and she was active in the formation of many community projects including the Seton Medical Center Community Advisory Committee, the RotaCare Free Clinic, Seton Medical Center Home Health Committee, Daly City ACCESS and the Healthy Aging Response Team.

Bowdish, 75, a Daly City resident, was one of eight people that the county’s Commission on the Status of Women honored at a ceremony on March 22.

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