Cal-Nevada mourns 'pioneering' retired clergywoman
“She was a pioneer”: one of the tributes to The Rev. Virginia Y. Hilton, a retired California-Nevada United Methodist pastor who died Sunday following a lengthy illness.
A graduate of Pacific School of Religion, Rev. Hilton became a Probationary Member of the Cal-Nevada Conference in 1976, leaving her home Annual Conference of Northern New Jersey. She transferred into Cal-Nevada in June, 1978 as an Associate Member, then became an Elder in Full Connection in 1980.
Like Rev. Hilton, Conference Director of Stewardship The Rev. Dr. Betsy Schwarzentraub was ordained in the first decades following the granting of full clergy rights for women in 1956. She remembers their early days in the Conference.
“She had the heart and faith of an evangelical, who also took courageous action on social justice issues – everything from being a personal Civil Rights advocate in the South in the fifties, to intentional inclusive welcome towards lesbians and gays.
Rev. Hilton served as associate pastor at El Sobrante UMC (1978), Albany UMC (1982), and at Faith UMC in
She is survived by her husband, The Rev. Bruce Hilton, retired; four children: Steve Hilton of Westborough, Massachusetts, Philip Hilton of Sacramento, and Thomas and Paul “Spud” Hilton, both of San Francisco; and two grandchildren.
Rev. Hilton had undergone treatment for cancer and was battling pneumonia at the time of her death. Her family had been able to gather around her in her final days, according to her son Spud.
Memorial services will be held on Saturday, October 27 at 1 p.m. at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Sacramento. Memorial gifts may be sent to Parents' Reconciling Network, 3801 Keeler Ave., Chicago, IL 60641 or to the Methodist Federation for Social Action, 212 E. Capitol Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20003.
“In this Annual Conference for many of us – clergywomen and men, as well – she was a great colleague, a leader, a mentor and a dear friend,” Schwarzentraub said.