Ada Hall: One of the First Female Deacons

The 1911 Free Methodist General Conference took steps to finally allow women some form of ordination. Now, women could become ordained deacons at the annual conference level, but with the cavet that “this ordination of women shall not be considered a step towards ordination as an elder.”1 I’ll write about all five women at some point, but Ada Hall is by far my favorite. I feel a kindered spirit in her writing and passion for what she believed important enough to fight for. Prior to being ordained a deacon, Hall had been appointed to circuits in the Minnesota and Northern … Continue reading Ada Hall: One of the First Female Deacons

Blanche and Christopher Stamp: Superstar Free Methodist Evangelists

A few more pieces about the Stamp family have come into place this week. Christopher Stamp was an early convert to Free Methodism. About ten years after the denomination was founded (1860), he heard Free Methodists preach in Seattle. A teenager at the time, he was greatly influenced by two Free Methodists, Rev. Peter Griggs and Hiram Pease, who were preaching in the Northwest United States. According to his 1930 obituary in The Free Methodist, he first converted to Free Methodism, and then a few days later, during the same revival, experienced sanctification. Because Seattle didn’t have an established Free … Continue reading Blanche and Christopher Stamp: Superstar Free Methodist Evangelists

Eliza Witherspoon: Early 20th Century Evangelist in Southern Missouri

In the July 8, 1895, issue of The Free Methodist, an Eliza Witherspoon sends a ministry report from Virginia, Missouri noting that she, her mother, and sister had been “advocating the principles of Free Methodism” in that part of the country for the past seventeen years. Eliza tells readers her family is the lone Free Methodist family in the area and had spent the past three weeks holding meetings where “God sent us help and souls were converted to God– more than twenty souls.” Far from being a single report, Eliza Witherspoon begins appearing regularly in The Free Methodist over … Continue reading Eliza Witherspoon: Early 20th Century Evangelist in Southern Missouri

Anna Grant Pastor of San Diego Free Methodist 1912-1913

Dr. Sarah Anne Grant served as an evangelist in Northren Indiana, Iowa and Oklahoma for the Free Methodist Church. While she appears as a licensed evangelist for the Northern Indiana Conference in 1890 and 1891, her ministry in Iowa and Oklahoma appears to have been more informal (or else annual conference minutes aren’t incredibly accurate and didn’t report all licensed evangelists). She turns in regular ministry reports while working in Iowa and in Oklahoma. The Grant family appears to encourage Free Methodist elders to come and hold revivals where Sarah would assist.1 She again appears as a licensed evangelist in … Continue reading Anna Grant Pastor of San Diego Free Methodist 1912-1913

Dr. Anna Grant Oklahoma Pioneer and California Minister

In March 1903, W.G. Hammer visited the Grant family in Granite and sent an update to The Free Methodist. At that time, Granite had 1500 residents, several large mercantile, four churches, and according to Hammer, the largest public school building in the state. Hammer noted the Grant family’s philosophy was to take evangelistic work with them wherever they moved. Continue reading Dr. Anna Grant Oklahoma Pioneer and California Minister

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

Archival Research is Complicated: Additional Information on Ida Gage and Clara Wetherald

New feature: The 1890 Debate on Ordaining Women is now posted under the Debates on Women in Ministry Page. It can be downloaded in PDF, Kindle or epub formats. When I began my blog in May 2010 I began it as research tool. I really didn’t expect to get many readers. I was writing for myself and to help process my thoughts and ideas as I worked. Perhaps, my family would read it out of pity for me and say “Good job, great post,” but getting anyone outside of immediate family and a few close friends as readers wasn’t something … Continue reading Archival Research is Complicated: Additional Information on Ida Gage and Clara Wetherald

Clara Leffingwell: A Free Methodist Trailblazer

Clara Leffingwell was born in 1862 in New York. The youngest of ten children, her mother died when she was very young, and she was raised by two of her older sisters. In her biography Clara Leffingwell: A Missionary, written by Walter Sellew, she is described as a very devote, spiritually sensitive child. Sellew, who is the bishop who wrote “Why Not?” in favor of ordaining women, is attempting to create a picture of Clara as a woman of faith. While there is some literary license in the biography, Clara’s story is remarkable and humbling. As a single woman, by … Continue reading Clara Leffingwell: A Free Methodist Trailblazer