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first impulse given the church in America. Landing in New York in 1760, in company with the first local preacher and class leader, Philip Embury, Mrs. Heck seems to have “kept the faith " more loyally, in the midst of the distractions and downward tendencies of the new life, than did the preacher. Five years passed and, so far as known, he did nothing to keep together the few Wesleyans, or add to their number. There was much moral degeneration, which no doubt greatly troubled the soul of Mrs. Heck. On a certain occasion, while visiting at a house where were gathered a number of friends and acquaintances, finding them engaged in card playing, “her spirit was roused, and, doubtless emboldened by her long and intimate acquaintance with them in Ireland, she seized the cards, threw them into the fire, and then most solemnly warned them of their danger and duty. Leaving them she went immediately to the dwelling of Embury, who was her cousin. After narrating what she had seen and done, under the influence of the Divine Spirit and with power, she appealed to him to be no longer silent, but to preach the Word forthwith. She parried his excuses and urged him to begin at once in his own house and to his own people. He consented, and she went out and collected four persons who, with herself, constituted his audience. After singing and prayer, he preached to them and enrolled them in a class. He continued thereafter to meet them weekly," * and thus began the work of Methodism in America. When the rigging loft, which had succeeded the house for preaching purposes, had also been outgrown, it was “ Barbara Heck, the real founder of American Methodism," who was ready with plans for a chapel, which still stands, a sacred memorial of her zeal and that of the man recalled to his duty by her burning words.
Nor can the work of the Countess of Huntingdon be overlooked in this connection, although the scene of her labors was in another land, since its fruits were here so largely shared through the work of Whitefield. Not merely as the builder of sixty-four chapels, the founder and supporter of a college for the education of ministers, many of whom were maintained by her, is she to be remembered. In the volume just quoted from, we read that, “ Under the influence of Whitefield and the Countess of Huntingdon, the Calvinistic non-conformity rose, as from the dead, to new life, which has continued ever since with increasing energy. By the same means, with the co
* Centenary of American Methodism.
operation of Wesley, a powerful evangelical party was raised up in the establishment, and most of the measures of evangelical propagandism which have since kept British Christianity alive with energy, and extended its activity to the foreign world, are distinctly traceable to this great revival. .... About the end of its first decade, a scarcely parallel interest had been spread and sustained throughout the United Kingdom and along the Atlantic coast of America. .... It had presented before the world the greatest pulpit orator of the age (if not of any age), Whitefield ; also one of the greatest religious legislators of history, Wesley, a hymnist, whose supremacy has been but doubtfully disputed by a single rival-Charles Wesley; and the most signal example of female agency in religious affairs which Christian history records, the Countess of Huntingdon."*
Remembering that the churches established by this gifted woman were not known by the names of the men associated with her, but as “Lady Huntingdon's connection," some evidence of the leadership of women will be apparent in the American Methodist Church. Strange to say, this is far from being the case. Although Wesley had encouraged the preaching of women, and although few men could equal the successful labors of many of them, the Methodist Episcopal Church of America is singularly backward in recognition of its women. According to its “Discipline," "the pronouns he, his, and him, when used with reference to stewards, class-leaders, and Sunday-school superintendents, shall not be construed so as to exclude women from these offices.” Notwithstanding this, “in many American churches to-day, a woman class-leader would be almost as great a curiosity as John the Baptist, with his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle around his loins." +
Women of unquestioned ability, liberal education, and purity of character have in vain applied for ordination, though supported by the record of much successful pulpit and pastoral work as licensed lay preachers, and by many influential friends of the laity and clergy. One of these, of national reputation, I to whom this sanction of ordination was refused, has since been ordained by the Protestant Methodist Church, which, having done so, however, steadfastly declines to add to the number, having apparently exhausted its liberality by this extreme application of the spirit of Wesley.
* Centenary American Methodism. + Rev. Annie H. Shaw.
# Christian Womanhood, W. C. Black, D.D.
The small sect of primitive Methodists which adheres most strictly to the methods of Wesley have always employed women preachers as a means of reaching the depraved classes ; this being one of the points of difference upon which it separated from the main body.
The United Brethren in Christ, or German Methodists, as formerly called, when their membership was more largely of that element, are to be distinguished as appointing the first woman as “circuit rider,” which was recently done by Bishop Kephart of the Wabash Annual Conference, held at Clay City, Ind. The appointee is a young woman eminently adapted to the work and is one of several ordained women elders in this church.
So far as known, the Baptist Church has taken no steps leading to the admission of women to its ministry, save in that division known as Free Will Baptists, which has ordained a small number of women in various parts of the country under its democratic system of government. The Free Baptist General Conference of 1886 adopted the following resolution : “ That intelligent, godly women who are so situated as to devote their time to the ministry, and desire to be ordained, should receive such indorsement and authority as ordination involves, provided there are no objections to such indorsement other than the matter of sex. Many of the Baptist clergymen, however, as those of all leading denominations, save the Episcopal and Roman Catholic, freely admit women to their pulpits to speak upon great moral questions, and would welcome them to the ranks of the ministry. Women are also prominent in its conference and prayer meetings.
The Presbyterian Church has been a strongly conservative body, slow to sanction radical change in its polity, but if the Pan-Presbyterian Council, held not long since in London, voices the general sentiment of this large and important denomination, women are to enjoy a more equal power in its administration. For a long period they were carefully excluded; but for a number of years past a more liberal policy has welcomed them to a free utterance in the conference and prayer meetings, which they sometimes conduct, and at synods they often speak upon missionary and other topics. At a Synod of the Reformed Presbyterians held in 1889, it was decided by a vote of 93 to 24 that the ordination of a woman as deacon is in harmony with the New Testament and the constitution of the Apostolic Church.
There are also indications that the long-frozen ground of orthodox Congregationalism is thawing toward a springtime of more generous recognition of its women. The recent opening of the Hartford Theological Seminary, and the almost immediate presentation to it of a prize scholarship to be competed for by women alone, are notable signs. The general recognition of the fitness of women preachers in missionary fields, the significant fact that Oberlin College, which graduated its first woman theological student * nearly forty years ago and has added but one other since, prints this year, for the first time, the names of these two women upon the Triennial Catalogue, are other straws upon the rising tide of favor toward the woman ministry. Under the Congregational system, any individual church may ordain for itself a woman whom it may choose for its pastor, and this has been done in several instances past, either by the deacons of the church or by a council called for the purpose, the present year recording more such ordinations than any preceding year.t
The German Lutheran Church, as represented in a recent session of the Missouri Synod at Baltimore, feeling compelled to recognize the trend of evangelical Christianity toward a woman ministry, presented for discussion the question, “ How far and under what conditions do we allow women to teach ?” The decision reached was that they must not teach at all in the pulpit nor in the congregation. As there is absolute parity of the clergy of this church, and the congregation is its ultimate of authority, it is by no means certain that this position can be uniformly maintained.
To this church is due the credit of introducing into the country as early as 1849 the order of Deaconesses as maintained in Europe during the last fifty years. By the persistent efforts of Mr. John D. Lankenau of Philadelphia, an enthusiastic supporter of this institution, America is now provided with the finest “Mother-house" in the world, the immediate result of
* Rev. Antoinette Brown Blackwell, the first woman ordained in this country.
Mrs. Blackwell writes : “ At the time of my ordination I was pastor of the church of South Butler and Savannah,' New York State. The church called a council to ordain me and install me as the regular minister. It was an orthodox society in good and regular standing among other Congregational churches, and the ordination was quite according to precedent ; though doubtless the Congregational body as a whole never would have ordained a woman either then, thirty-seven years ago, nor yet to-day."-Ed. note.
+ Rev. Louise S. Baker, pastor of the Orthodox Congregational Church, in Nantucket, Mass., was ordained by the deacons of that church in 1884, two of the four deacons being women.
which has been a rapid increase of the order in various denominations, in all parts of the country. This magnificent edifice, built by Mr. Lankenau as a memorial of his wife, at a cost of half a million of dollars, has been presented as a free gift to the German Hospital Corporation of Philadelphia. "The western wing of the building is used as a home for aged men and women, the eastern wing as a residence and training school for the deaconesses, the chapel uniting the two, and the whole being known as the Mary J. Drexel Home and Mother-house of Deaconesses."* +
The Protestant Episcopal Church has for many years recognized the value of “sisterhoods” of consecrated women, more or less closely affiliated, for carrying on its various branches of philanthropic service, from which the growth and efficiency of the church has received no small degree of impetus and importance. Among these sisterhoods are numbered two orders of deaconesses, one of which has been changed into the “Sisterhood of St. John the Evangelist"; which, in view of the growing hospitality of thought toward preaching by women, carries in its title a certain suggestiveness. Fourteen sisterhoods, a religious order of widows, and two orders of deaconesses are reported in 1888 for this church.
The church polity of the “Christian Connection," better known as the Christian Church, as its name implies, is placed upon a broad foundation, by which each church is an independent republic, and women are thus eligible to its pulpits; one woman, ordained to its ministry in the State of Illinois, having at the present time charge of three prosperous churches.
* Report of the Dedication of the Mary J. Drexel Home and Motherhouse of Deaconesses, December 6, 1888. In 1887 Mrs. Lucy Rider Meyer, M.D., connected with the Chicago Training School, with a few women to assist, gave the first impulse to the Deaconess movement in the Methodist Episcopal Church, which has resulted in the establishment of Mother-houses in Chicago, New York, Boston and other large cities. The church, seeing the measureless opportunities offered by such an institution, has wisely been prompt to adopt it, and this will doubtless encourage the adoption of the order by other denominations.
+ The Grace House Training School for Deaconesses was opened for the admission of candidates October (1890), in New York, adjoining Grace Church. The General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in October, 1889, provided that every candidate for the office of Deaconess, before she is set apart, shall have had "an adequate preparation for her work, both technical and religious, which preparation shall cover the period of two years.” The Grace House Training School is provided to furnish this preparation.-ED.