John and Clara Wetherald’s Last Years of Life and Ministry

“But now you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22 ESV).  The Rev. F.J. Calkins from the East Michigan Free Methodist Conference stands in front of a crowd of mourners reciting the verse from Romans. He is conducting for John Wetherald’s funeral service. It’s 1902. John passed away on October 12.  His final years were filled with heartbreak, financial difficulties, health issues and divorce.  Calkins wrote John Wetherald’s obit and notes “On account of financial embarrassment and throat troubles Brother Wetherald … Continue reading John and Clara Wetherald’s Last Years of Life and Ministry

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

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”

Clara Wetherald Part Three: Wife, Mother, Pastor

Clara Wetherald was born Clarissa L. Miller around 1849. While Clarissa Miller was a very popular name during this time period, Her husband John Wetherald was born in New York in 1842 to William Wetherald and Hannah Ferris. John’s father was born in England and immigrated to the U.S. It appears at some point in his family’s history they changed the spelling of their name from “Wetherell” or “Witherall” to “Wetherald.” Sometime between John’s birth in 1842 and 1860 his family moved to Vienna, Genesee County, Michigan.  On Apr. 5 1866, John F. and Clara Miller married in Genesee County, … Continue reading Clara Wetherald Part Three: Wife, Mother, Pastor

Finding Clara Wetherald Part Two

In 1888 Clara Wetherald, a licensed evangelist and circuit riding preacher in Michigan, wrote a ministerial update published in the October 10, 1888, The Free Methodist. Wetherald had been sent to dedicate a new church in Royalton, Michigan, only to find on arrival that the congregation still needed to raise $369, and the building for the church was not completed. “It was a great cross to me to go to dedicate a church, as I consider myself a poor hand to raise money,” (5) Wetherald wrote. Yet, she led the congregation into a time of prayer on Saturday September 29, … Continue reading Finding Clara Wetherald Part Two