Week 2 | Women of Christ Church: Celebrating Women’s History Month

Week 2 | Women of Christ Church: Celebrating Women’s History Month

Week 2 | Women of Christ Church: Celebrating Women’s History Month 150 150 Dayton Christ Episcopal Church

The Rev. Elizabeth “Betty” Lilly

The Rev. Elizabeth Bates Lilly came to Christ Church in the spring of 1980 as assistant to The Rev. Gordon S. Price. Mrs. Lilly received her Bachelor of Arts degree from The Ohio State University, majoring in English; the degree of Master of Arts from Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary, Columbus in 1978; and the Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus in 1979. Having been ordained a deacon in 1976, she served as assistant to the Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbus for four years before coming to Dayton. 

“My position at Christ Church,” said Mrs. Lilly in January 1981, “is appropriate for a deacon of this church. I am a specialist part of the time in Christian Growth and Education and in charge of all such programs. Mr. Rector, Mr. Price, considers my ministry a partnership with him in which we try to share responsibilities and duties, consulting with each other often. I am actively seeking the priesthood.” She left Christ Church in 1981 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1984. 

She ran and assisted several churches and a home for troubled girls. She was a hospice chaplain, a leader in two spiritual renewal movements and spiritual director for the Kairos prison ministry. She founded a parish adult literacy center and tutored there, too. Working or substituting in 35 churches in the Diocese of Southern Ohio diocese, and 27 churches in the Diocese of Ohio, The Rev. Elizabeth Lilly never stayed put long. But “Father Mom,” as some called her, did learn to be patient.

She discovered she could create icons in 1996 when she was working on a Lenten series on the subject of Taizé worship that called for candles, music, and icons. She just started sketching and painting. Still, Lilly started to perceive that something holy was going on, and it scared her. “I was touching holy things,” she said. “I was touching his body.” She  studied under five master iconographers. She became a prolific iconographer and people began commissioning her works. She died on December 1, 2017. 

-Submitted by Judith Wehn, Christ Church Parishioner