An Open Letter to FM Leaders: Have We Forgotten Our Roots?

Dear Leaders of the North American Free Methodist Church, In 2008 I discovered why I loved being a Free Methodist – our history of social justice. Namely living out Galatians 3:28. “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.”(The Message) I grew up in the Free Methodist Church, but I had no idea that … Continue reading An Open Letter to FM Leaders: Have We Forgotten Our Roots?

Returning to the Urban Ministry of Early Free Methodists

Fall of 2012 my husband and I moved into Toledo, Ohio. We bought an 1899 Edwardian home in the Birmingham neighborhood. Demographically the neighborhood is filled with renters, many of them working for minimum wage or on welfare. There are a lot of single mothers and a lot of kids. Many of my neighbors don’t have the Internet; instead going to the library on Monday or Tuesday evenings to check their e-mail there. It’s a very different community from the suburban neighborhood we had previously lived in. Buying a house, moving, and getting settled took away all my blogging time … Continue reading Returning to the Urban Ministry of Early Free Methodists

Expressing Faith Through Fashion: Choice, Legalism or Both?

In many Christian traditions such as the Mennonites,  Quakers, Amish and various holiness movements dress was an outward expression of faith. However, there was and continues to be a fine line between an individual embracing dress as a form of religious expression and being forced to dress a certain way as a form of legalism. Playing with the Free Methodist history of dress in the late nineteenth and early 2oth century, I’ll explore some of these tensions in a multi-part series. Free Methodist women, especially those who chose to preach and teach publicly  faced numerous barriers to acceptance- not least among them their attire, … Continue reading Expressing Faith Through Fashion: Choice, Legalism or Both?

The Roberts and Phoebe Palmer

It was through Walter and Phoebe Palmer that Ellen Stowe (later Ellen Stowe Roberts) first experienced a camp meeting revival. Ellen lived in New York City with her aunt and uncle – the same city as the Palmers. Her uncle George Lane was the editor of the Methodist Publishing House. Thus, putting her into contact with numerous prominent Methodists of the time period. The Sing Sing Camp Meeting in New York was one several life-changing experiences Ellen recounted in her writings. At this camp meeting she ran into people from the Allen Street Methodist Episcopal Church where the Palmers were … Continue reading The Roberts and Phoebe Palmer

Phoebe Palmer: A Pioneer for Women Preachers

A woman of passion, faith and a cunning rhetorical ability Phoebe Palmer is one of Methodism’s most skilled nineteenth century rhetoricians, and perhaps one of the most overlooked.  Palmer is best remembered for her Tuesday Bible studies “Meetings for the Promotion of Holiness” and her widely read religious periodical Guide to Holiness.  Her writings and preaching influenced France Willard, the long serving and influential president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Catherine Booth, co-founder of the Salvation Army and Benjamin Titus Roberts, founder of the Free Methodist Church. Palmer was a genius at negotiating nineteenth century gender norms to main … Continue reading Phoebe Palmer: A Pioneer for Women Preachers

Why Rhetoric Matters: The Power of Words to Liberate or Manipulate

It’s hard to explain to people who don’t study rhetoric why it’s important or for that matter what rhetoric is.  A basic definition is that rhetoric is the art of discourse. It is the study of speech. Words are powerful tools. They support ideology, stir passion and anger, and most importantly fuel action. We study the words of the present and the past to learn from our triumphs and our failures. A society that does not learn from its mistakes is a society that is guaranteed to continue repeating the same missteps. Perhaps this why I’ve turned much of my … Continue reading Why Rhetoric Matters: The Power of Words to Liberate or Manipulate