Women’s responses at the 1890 General Conference

The 1890 Free Methodist General Conference was the first general conference to have women delegates, which added tension to the debate about women’s ordination. Clara Wetherald of the East Michigan Conference and Anna Grant from North Indiana were seated delegates at the conference (Snyder, 2006). In the Passion of the Founders (2003), edited by Gerald Coates, Wetherald speaks up during the debate about women’s ordination. (Yet, Coates records no response on the issue from Grant. I am hoping a trip to the Free Methodist archives will revel that Grant also took a stance on the subject). After listening to her … Continue reading Women’s responses at the 1890 General Conference

Opposition to Ordaining Women at the 1890 Conference

Over the last few weeks I’ve been dissecting the 1890 Free Methodist General Conference debate about ordaining women. While we’ve read some wonderful defenses of women in ministry, it’s important to also look at the critics. Many of the arguments made in the 1890s are still being made today, which, frankly, doesn’t give me much hope that the issues surrounding gender roles in the church will be resolved anytime soon. However, we must continue to persevere and push people to rethink their opinions about gender. As Donald Dayton, a Wesleyan theologian, notes in his book Discovering an Evangelical Heritage, “The … Continue reading Opposition to Ordaining Women at the 1890 Conference

Equally Capable: Women in Ministry

The 1890 Free Methodist General Conference debate about the ordination of women is one of the most important moments in Free Methodist Church history. The debate about women’s roles still goes on today, making it crucial that we understand our history and our position on this issue. No true Free Methodist should ever say that our denomination supports male headship. If they do they need a firm scolding and to be sent home to read B.T. Roberts “On Ordaining Women” and numerous other documents the denomination has put out throughout the years. Yet it is disturbingly surprising how few people … Continue reading Equally Capable: Women in Ministry

Debating the Same Points for Centuries

The idea that God created men and women with different capabilities and purposes has driven the debate about gender equality for centuries.  Yet, while the idea seems fairly straightforward – God created Adam first and Eve was made from Adam; therefore Adam must be the leader because he was created first. The implications behind this belief in fundamentally different gender roles has far reaching and dangerous implication for women who feel called to serve in male-dominated professions. What is most ironic to me about this debate is the fact that in over a 100 years we have not progressed at … Continue reading Debating the Same Points for Centuries