Shifting Narratives on Gender Part Three: The 1907 Free Methodist General Conference

When the resolution to approve a deaconess order came to the floor at the 1907 General Conference, the idea was met with enthusiastic support, passing through committee with thirty-five in favor and only seven opposed before coming to the floor for a conference vote.[i] Very few concerns were raised, but among the topics discussed were governance, mission, and uniforms for the order. Speaking in favor of the order, Free Methodist editor Charles Ebey reminded delegates there were already churches with such orders, and the need for a Free Methodist order was great. Reflecting on his personal experiences with deaconesses, Ebey … Continue reading Shifting Narratives on Gender Part Three: The 1907 Free Methodist General Conference

Shifting Rhetorical Narratives of Gender Part Two: Motivations Behind the Free Methodist Deaconess Order

By 1907 the Free Methodist Church sponsored rescue homes for young women, orphanages, and old folks homes across the United States. [i] All these missions provided various social services to their respective communities, but an emphasis was placed on providing housing to unwed mothers and homes for orphans. The need to staff these missions helped fuel the establishment of the Free Methodist Deaconess Order in 1907. However, motivations for establishing the order were not straightforward as a range of social concerns fueled the order’s establishment . One motivation was a deaconess order was seen as a way to provide acceptable … Continue reading Shifting Rhetorical Narratives of Gender Part Two: Motivations Behind the Free Methodist Deaconess Order

The Shifting Rhetorical Narrative of Gender: 1894-1911 Part One

I’ve written a lot on this blog about the 1890 and 1894 Free Methodist General Conference debates on women’s ordination. (I even have transcripts here if you would like to read the debates). However, the discussion did not end in 1894. Despite the 1894 General Conference choosing not to ordain women as elders or even deacons, more women, not less, became evangelists over the next decade. In 1894 there were 48 licensed women evangelists in the Free Methodist Church, and by 1904 there were 307. However, the number of women evangelists appointed to a circuit did not significantly increase. In … Continue reading The Shifting Rhetorical Narrative of Gender: 1894-1911 Part One