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

Are Tears a Sin? Clara Wetherald’s Views on Emotion and Preaching

This article was published while B.T. Roberts was editor of The Free Methodist. It shows the emotional/embodied nature Clara most likely also practiced as she addressed a congregation. As I’ve blogged about her for several years, her passion cannot be doubted but how she physically and emotionally expressed that passion was something I was unsure of until I found this article. My favorite quote from Clara in this article is: “Tears often speak louder than words. “ By Clara Wetherald The Free Methodist November 23, 1887 A meeting was held in a certain place to labor with a sister, and … Continue reading Are Tears a Sin? Clara Wetherald’s Views on Emotion and Preaching

Mariet Hardy Freeland: A Trailblazer for Women’s Preaching and Public Speaking

I’m beginning an exploration of the life and ministry of Mariet Hardy Freeland. While Clara Wetherald and Ida Gage were influential in the debates on ordaining women, Mariet helped pave the way for later evangelists like Wetherald and Gage. Biographical information is taken from the book Mariet Hardy Freeland: A Faithful Witness by Emma Freeland Shay. Mariet Hardy Freeland was a trailblazer for women evangelists in the Free Methodist Church. Born in New York in 1829, she was the youngest of 10 children.  While there is a vast archive of Mariet’s original writings (which I still need to dig into), … Continue reading Mariet Hardy Freeland: A Trailblazer for Women’s Preaching and Public Speaking

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

What Makes a Free Methodist Feminist

I’m re-posting this entry since I now have more readers than I did when I originally posted it in May. It’s my manifesto for what I believe and what I research. Occasionally I’m asked why I call myself a feminist. Now that my blog is getting a few readers I’m getting this question more often. The concept of a “Free Methodist Feminist” seems like an oxymoron. Yet, I stand by this term. I am a feminist.  While there are definitely some feminists who distance themselves from organized religion and view organized religion as just another way to enforce patriarchy, I … Continue reading What Makes a Free Methodist Feminist

Ellen Stowe Roberts: Co-Founder of Free Methodism

Benjamin Titus (B.T.) Roberts is known as the founder of Free Methodism. Yet, standing quietly beside him was his wife Ellen Stowe Roberts. While B.T. Roberts was traveling, preaching, dedicating new churches and attending annual conferences his wife Ellen was back at home at Chili Seminary. While she traveled with him sometimes, her impact on Free Methodism rests in her gentle spirit and quiet witness. I firmly believe that when we note who founded Free Methodism both B.T. and Ellen should be given credit in the same breath. Ellen helped shape B.T. Roberts theology through her connections to Phoebe Palmer … Continue reading Ellen Stowe Roberts: Co-Founder of Free Methodism

Walter Sellew’s Phamplet “Why Not?”: A Logical Defense on Women’s Ordination

The path to ordain women in the Free Methodist Church seemed to stall with the death of B.T. Roberts after the 1890 General Conference. Yet, the battle wasn’t over. In 1898 the Free Methodist Church for the first time appointed four bishops – Wilson Hogg (aka Hogue), G.W. Coleman, E.P. Hart and Walter Sellew. Sellew is the forgotten advocate for women’s ministry. Yet, without his support I believe recognition of women’s contributions within the denomination would have taken even longer to occur. While women were not granted the right to ordained elders within the denomination until 1974, they were granted … Continue reading Walter Sellew’s Phamplet “Why Not?”: A Logical Defense on Women’s Ordination

Fighting for Gender Equality in the 1880s “Free Methodist”

B.T. Roberts, the founder of the Free Methodist Church, served as editor of the denominational magazine The Free Methodist from 1887-1890. During that time period he featured women’s original articles, ministry reports and testimonials. Even prior to the denomination officially buying the magazine at the 1886 General Conference it was not unusual to see women’s writings featured in the publication. However, with Roberts as editor I can’t help but feel he specifically featured some articles to promote his platform of Biblical gender equality and women’s ordination. His tenure as the magazine’s editor was during a crucial time. The 1890 General … Continue reading Fighting for Gender Equality in the 1880s “Free Methodist”

The Vision and Founding of the Free Methodist Church: Separation from the Methodist Episcopal Church Skit

This is a short skit I wrote for the 150th anniversary of the Free Methodist denomination this past August. I’ve found that creatively writing out some of the historic details helps me better understand the history and passion of the individuals I’m researching. Feel free to reproduce this play at your own church, just make sure to give me credit as the author. I’m basing this off the honor system. Minor changes to staging or script are permitted. Cast: Narrator 1 Narrator 2 Genesee Conference Delegate B.T. Roberts Ellen Roberts Trial Observers (2 to 3) Stage Setting: Two podiums (or … Continue reading The Vision and Founding of the Free Methodist Church: Separation from the Methodist Episcopal Church Skit