An ordained pastor for nearly four decades, Carrie Dorfman, 70, was among the first female Presbyterian ministers, defying convention and inspiring young women.

Carrie Dorfman raised her hands to the heavens, the sleeves of her robe rippling down her arms, long dark hair pulled back in a barrette.

A woman leading a Presbyterian congregation in worship was a startling sight in the 1970s to a teenage girl sitting in the pews. It would change Kayla Collins' life.

"I would have never been able to have imagined it had I not seen her," said Collins, now 55. "She was a pastor to her bones."

Dorfman preached at St. Luke Presbyterian in Minnetonka about living your faith every day in virtuous acts. Do unto others as you would have done to you.

Collins, the child of agnostics, was looking for a religious home. She found it at St. Luke. In Dorfman, she discovered a mentor who inspired her to become a minister herself. "What was amazing to me was seeing another woman feel as passionately about people and issues and faith and pastoral care as I did," Collins recalled.

Ordained in 1978, Dorfman showed a generation of women they could seek a pastoral life when the idea was still uncommon, even condemned in some religious circles.

A wife and mother of two, Dorfman also spent much of her time ministering at the state women's prison in Shakopee, where she served as chaplain for a decade.

There she became a role model for CathyAnn Beaty, 59, who pastored alongside Dorfman at the prison while studying to be a minister.

"Even with those women, she was extremely unconditionally accepting," Beaty recalled. "She worked with the women to help them find compassion for themselves."