Cheek was part of the “The Philadelphia 11,” a group of female priests all ordained in Pennsylvania, long before that was acceptable in the Anglican church. It was immediately met with howls of protests. This was coming after the fall of Saigon, and after the zenith of the hippie movement. The “mainline denominations” were at a tipping point, one that is much more recognizable in the hindsight than I’m sure it was at the time. Many people protested such a brazen show of rebellion by the Philadelphia Episcopal church—compounded all the more because the Anglican Church had rejected calls to ordain women.
While some Anglicans may have protested the Philadelphia 11, Cheek leaned in, leading Eucharist services and making her position very public. The world of course celebrated the church’s compromise—as I mentioned, she was featured on the cover of TIME.