The Other Female Delegates at the 1890 & 1894 Free Methodist General Conferences

A little over a year ago, I published a post “Who was S. Annie Grant?” Since that time, I’ve been trying to track down information on the other women delegates at the 1890 and 1894 Free Methodist General Conferences. I’ve written extensively about the two delegates who spoke on the floor in defense of women’s ministries, but who were the other women? At the 1890 General Conference there was Clara Wetherald from Eastern Michigan and Anna Grant from Northern Indiana. In 1894 there was Ida Gage from Ohio, Mrs. Coleman from Wisconsin, Mrs. Barnhart from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and Clara Sage … Continue reading The Other Female Delegates at the 1890 & 1894 Free Methodist General Conferences

Who was S. Annie Grant?

At the 1890 Free Methodist General Conference the Northern Indiana Conference sent Anna Grant as a delegate. Grant, an evangelist who sent in regular ministry updates to the denominational magazine The Free Methodist, appears to primarily have been preaching in the northeast portion of the state  (Whitley, Steuben, Allen, Noble, De Kalb and Legrange Counties). While other female evangelists I’ve researched have had either spouse who was ordained elders (Clara & John Wetherald) or a well-written annual conference history that outlined their story (Ida Gage), Anna Grant so far doesn’t have that.  She and Clara Wetherald were the only two … Continue reading Who was S. Annie Grant?

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

Free Methodism’s Descent form a Vibrant Religious Movement to a Denomination

As the nineteenth century ended the Free Methodist Church began to shift into a period of extended legalism, creating an insular society that little resembled the dynamic, Spirit-filled early history of the denomination. By the 1894 General Conference there was a push back against evangelists and a focus not on sinners but on saints within the church. The massive revivals that spread Free Methodism across the country began to become fewer as the denomination focused on legalistic practices such as simple dress and strict Christian guidelines. Ida Gage’s daughter Edith Gage Tingley illustrates the increasing tension between charismatic faith and … Continue reading Free Methodism’s Descent form a Vibrant Religious Movement to a Denomination