A Sermon Illustration Understood Two Different Ways

At the 1890 Free Methodist General Conference Clara Wetherald delivered an address on women’s ordination. Clara was a powerful public speaker. A woman who heard her preach in Montrose, Michigan, at the beginning of the twentieth century noted that Clara “Usually preached with tears running down her cheeks, although she was smiling all the time. She was a very attractive woman, and the tears did not interfere with her attractiveness.” Clara stood in front of the 1890 General Conference delegates and admitted that she knew the adversity facing women in ministry but felt they were particularly gifted to care for … Continue reading A Sermon Illustration Understood Two Different Ways

Cultural Influences in the 1890 General Conference Debates

Sometimes even Christians are wrong. Shocker! Christians can have wrong opinions? Yes, we’re only human, and in the case of the 1890 Free Methodist General Conference some of the denomination’s Godly leaders were wrong. I’ve struggle the past few months with how to critique the debate on women’s ordination in the denomination, particularly the 1890 General Conference when the debate was incredibly heated and intense. Yet, I don’t want to say that these men, who were clearly dedicated to their faith and had a heart for service, were evil men. They weren’t evil. What I’ve come to see is that … Continue reading Cultural Influences in the 1890 General Conference Debates

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