The Episcopal Church will get its first black woman priest Saturday at an ordination rite at Washington Cathedral at which two irregularly ordained women also will be formally recognized.
Among the six candidates - three men and three women - to be ordained to the priesthood by Wasshington Bishop William F. Creighton will be Dr. Pauli Murray.
The 66-year-old civil rights pioneer constitutional lawyer and former law professor is being ordained by Bishop Creighton for the bishop of Massachusetts, where she is canonically resident.
At the same service, the irregular ordinations 17 months ago of the Rev. Lee McGee and the Rev. Betty Rosenberg will be formally recognized, giving them undisputed standing in the diociese as priests.
The Episcopal General Convention last September authorized both the ordination of newly qualified women candidates to the priesthood and the regularization of the priestly standing of those women ordained in disputed rites in Philadelphia more than two years ago, and in a similar service here a year later.
In addition to Dr. Murray, the candidates to be ordained are Elizabeth Wiesner, who has been serving as a part-time, unpaid assistant on the cathedral staff; the Rev. Carol Ann Crumley, on the staff of Christ's Church, Capitol Hill; the Rev. Joel Gibson, of Ascension Church, Silver Spring; the Rev. John Rabb, Ascension Church Gaithersburg, and the Rev. Raford Ellis, Holy Comforter Church.
Crumley and Gibson are graduates of the city's Intermet Seminary program. Rabb completed his work at Episcopal Theological Seminary in Cambridge. Mass. Dr. Murray studied at General Theological Seminary in New York and Virginia Seminary in Alexandria.
Weisner and Ellis completed their priestly studies in individual supervised study under Bishop Creighton's Special Education for the Ministry program.
Although Elizabeth Weisner was fully certified for the priesthood two years ago, she rejected ordination in one of the irregular rites and opted instead to continue serving as a deacon until the church's General Convention gave full formal approval to women priests.
The ordination service will be the first to be held in a Washington Diocese in nearly two years. After two emotional ordination services, at which male candidates were ordained but women with equal training and qualifications were refused ordination, Bishop Creighton, in the spring of 1975, declared a moratorium on all ordinations in the diocese until women candidates could be accepted.
Coadjutor Bishop John T. Walker, who will succeed Bishop Creighton when the latter retires in June, will preach the sermon.
Two other area women who were irregularly ordained yet to be formally recognized. The Rev. Alison Palmer is delaying any action on her status as a protest against the refusal of Western Missouri Bishop Arthur Vogel to recognize the ordination of the Rev. Katrina Swanson.
Alison Cheek, who is canonically related to the diocese of Virginia, is in discussion with Virginia Bishop Robert Hall about recognition of her status.
Elsewhere three of the irregularly ordained women have been recognized since Jan. 1 when last fall's General Convention actions became effective. They are the Rev. Nancy Wittig, of Newark, N.J. and the Revs. Jeannette Piccard and Alla Bozarth-Campbell, of Minneapolis.