Clara Wetherald noted in her testimony at the 1890 Free Methodist General Conference that when she was younger, she thought the only way a woman could preach was if she married a minister. So, that’s precisely what she did when, at seventeen, she married John Wetherald, an ordained elder in the Methodist Protestant Church. Methodist Protestant Church Years Between 1866 and 1874, Clara and John Wetherald worked within the Michigan Methodist Protestant Church. John was an ordained elder during their time in the denomination. Clara and John were appointed to churches, with Clara having separate appointments from John. Clara first … Continue reading Clara Wetherald A Methodist, Free Methodist and Finally A Congregationalist
Continuing the series of Free Methodist women’s ministry reports from the south. We will move from the 1890s into the early 1900s. (See Part 1 for the 1890s.) February 2, 1904, Summerville, Georgia We are here in our work. We have no other motive in view than to glorify God and see souls saved. We met some sweetly save pilgrims in Grayson, who opened their doors and gave us a hearty welcome. I praise the Lord this evening for salvation. My mind runs back as I write, to the time and place where I first found the Lord precious to … Continue reading Free Methodist Women in the South Part II
During the 1890s and early 1900s numerous women wrote to The Free Methodist to share reports about their local congregations or the evangelistic crusades they were leading. Over the next few posts, I’ll be republishing ministry reports from women who lived and ministered in the southern states. Their stories are remarkable, and they should be allowed to tell their stories in their own words without my summary. See Free Methodist Women of the South Part II for more stories of these amazing pioneers! February 7, 1894, Hazelhurst, Mississippi Husband and myself are in meetings most of the time. It means … Continue reading Free Methodist Women in the South Part I
Cementing Women’s Ministry Roles From 1911-1974 Free Methodist women who entered ministry had three approved tracks: evangelist, deaconess, or deacon. While these ministry paths opened numerous doors at the local level, decisions at the denominational level still primarily excluded women, as they could only be elected as lay delegates to general conferences. The result was that decisions affecting the entire denomination were still decided mainly by men. Since men could be selected as both lay and ministerial delegates to general conferences, it was almost guaranteed that more men would secure delegate spots and maintain the majority vote for denominational decisions. Leaders such … Continue reading Walter Sellew’s Why Not? Is it Really a Defense of Women’s Ministry?
One of the most under-researched areas of Free Methodist women’s history is the Free Methodist Deaconess Order. I have not been able to confirm an end date for the order. Still, it was approved by the 1907 General Conference. It was in place well into the late twentieth century (if anyone knows when the order ended I would love to hear from you). Motivation for Establishing the Order Established to counter what was seen as a rising Catholic threat, the Free Methodist Church and other Protestant denominations began deaconess orders in the mid to late nineteenth century to provide a … Continue reading The History of the Free Methodist Deaconess Order
The very language used to define Josh’s abuse as “curious about girls,” “they didn’t even know he had done it” or the defense by the victims that their brother had “made stupid mistakes” all illustrate a lack of understanding and/or stubborn refusal to fully understand severity of mental health issues Josh Duggar was struggling with as a teenager and continued to struggle with as an adult with a wife and father of soon to be seven children. Continue reading The Failure of Christian “Counseling” in the Duggar Family Saga
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?
After about a 5-year break, I am returning to the topic of 19th-century women’s ordination. Currently, I’m working on tracing the stories of the Free Methodist General Conference female delegates from 1890, Anna Grant, (Northern Indiana), and 1894, Clara Sage (Wabash, Ind,), Mrs. Colemen (Wisconsin) & Mrs. Barnhart (Pittsburg). More on what I have found to come. While my dissertation traced the stories of the two women delegates who spoke up in defense of their ministry (Clara Wetherald & Ida Gage), I have begun to wonder about those who were silent. Why didn’t they speak; what did they think? Some … Continue reading As God Will: 1892 Update from Clara Wetherald
This week the world lost arguably one of the most important Christian feminists of the twenty-first century. Rachel Held Evans, 37, author of a Year of Biblical Womanhood, Inspired: Slaying Giants and Living on Water and Loving the Bible Again and Searching for Sunday, passed away from complications relating to the flu. In 2012, Christianity Today named her on the top 50 Women to Watch, and they were right. Evans was a force, never settling for trite Christian messages, pushing evangelical culture to change and become inclusive not only to women and the LGTQI community and ultimately having to leave Evangelical culture to … Continue reading A Day with Rachel Held Evans
I’m now 34, and like so many former evangelicals who grew up at the height of the purity movement all of my romantic choices were influenced by the guidelines of books such as I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I now realize I am damn lucky my romantic narrative didn’t turn into a horror show. Continue reading Grappling with Purity Culture Regrets