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· The Universalist Church has been the first to open the doors of its theological schools for the training of women for the min. istry, and by its established forms ordain them to its full fellowship. This was not, however, considered a part of its ecclesiastical system until made practically such by the admission of the first woman candidate, * who, denied entrance to the Meadville Theological School (Unitarian), applied in 1860 to the President of St. Lawrence University to be admitted to its theological department. In his reply, the fair-minded president candidly wrote: “No woman has ever been admitted to this college, and, personally, I do not think women are called to the ministry, but that I shall leave with the great head of the church. .... I shall render you every aid in my power.” A graduate of Mt. Holyoke Seminary and of Antioch College, at which she received the degree of A.B., this well-equipped pioneer for a larger place for women in the Christian church soon verified her credentials, and the president, always her steadfast friend, preached her ordination sermon. Since her ordination, she has enjoyed a number of successful pastorates, with the duties of which marriage and motherhood have not proved incompatible.
About fifty women have been ordained in this church, and all its schools and colleges, save one, are now co-educational. There is also, with scarcely an exception, among its clergymen a feeling of cordial fellowship toward women preachers.
Would the limits of this article permit, sketches of the work accomplished by its pioneer women preachers would furnish not uninteresting reading, since their fields of labor have been some of the most difficult in their respective churches. They have been called to the building of new churches in unbroken fields, or to those so dead or dormant as to be apparently beyond the reach of men workers, and yet we hear of no fail. ures among them to raise these churches to new life and prosperity or to organize new material upon strong foundations. In one notable instance, in a suburb of Chicago, a ten years' pastorate has resulted in the building of one church edifice which, speedily outgrown, has made necessary a more spacious and elegant one ; and there is no disposition to exchange this successful woman minister for a masculine successor.
The Universalist Register for 1889, contains, in its list of ministers, the names of thirty-five women, being the largest
* Rev. Olympia Brown Willis.
number of ordained women for any year, and the largest number in any denomination.
In just a decade after its refusal to admit a woman, the Meadville Theological School (Unitarian) opened its doors to women students, since which time it has received sixteen. About one third of these have graduated, while others have taken but a partial course as wives or prospective wives of ministers, in order to be more truly “help-meets ” in the pulpit work of their husbands. “Among these graduates," writes a member of the faculty, “every woman has been above the average. Our experience indicates that for success in our ministry, care should be taken to encourage only such women as, together with personal fitness for the work, can easily maintain this high rank.”
An amusing incident in the domestic life of one of these women pastors may indicate a possibility of growth in the woman ministry likely to startle conservative minds. A little boy and girl, the children of a mother whose work as a minister evidently contained no surprises for them, were discussing plans for their own future. “I shall help manima preach," said the little girl. “I shall preach, too,” stoutly. said the small brother. His sister, looking thoughtfully and doubtfully at him, said slowly, “Yes, mens do preach sometimes."
The woman ministry in America has had no warmer friend than Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, herself a preacher of well-known ability, occasionally preaching in the pulpits of this country, and having preached in Rome, Jerusalem, and Santo Domingo while sojourning in those places. In 1873 Mrs. Howe succeeded in securing a convention of such ministers as were within convenient distance of Boston during Anniversary week, at which addresses were made and the communion observed, Rev. Lorenza Haynes and Rev. Mary H. Graves officiating.
Since that time eight annual conventions have been held in Boston ; and in the Hollis Street Church, on June 2, 1882, the “Woman's Ministerial Conference” was formed, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, president. This is not a working body, but a fellowship of women preachers, whether ordained or not, representing all denominations. Its present officers are : Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, president ; Rev. Mary H. Graves, corresponding secretary ; Rev. Ada C. Bowles, recording secretary. These, with the additional names of Rev. Louise S. Baker and Rev. Mary T. Whitney, form its executive committee. The
title of Rev. is never applied save to those who have been regularly ordained in their respective denominations.
That women bore an important part in the planting and early growth of the Christian church needs no argument. That the plain teaching of Paul should have been so perverted as to mean their exclusion from the office of public teaching is to be explained only by the fact of a departure from the methods of the primitive church, through a purely masculine interpretation and application of regulations which, entirely adapted to the age and country in which uttered, were never intended to be prohibitive of women's preaching in that, or at any later, period.
The establishment of the Diaconate, in which, as an order of the clergy, women administered the sacraments, interpreted and promulgated doctrines, in connection with the practical work of charity and benevolence, are matters of history.
In its periods of persecution, the church received no more devoted service than that given by its consecrated women. For its sake, they cheerfully accepted martyrdom, in its most cruel forms. Princesses of the blood and other women of noble birth left the allurements of courts for the studious seclusion of the cloister, or, seeking out the poor and needy, they divided with them their substance. No conditions of miserable poverty or loathsome disease hindered the most tender devotion. In all ages and in all lands women have given proof of a loyalty to Christianity as sincere as it was serviceable. By their proselyting power in converting royal relatives, they were the means of bringing not only Rome but France, England, Spain, Hungary, Poland, and Russia under Christian rule.*
Is the church to-day less in need of such service than in the past, that it will seek in any way to circumscribe the work of its faithful women by denying to them such sanction, through its prescribed forms, as it bestows freely upon like qualified men, is the question which presses itself persistently forward for settlement.
Certain it is that, as ecclesiastical despotism loses its hold upon the people, they will more readily seek spiritual guidance under a broader law of adaptation and natural fitness, in which women must stand at least an equal chance with men. What the world has already lost by their exclusion from a controlling influence in the church, finds its most painful illustration in the widespread and deep depravity of the masses in our
* “ Biography of Distinguished Women,” Sarah J. Hale.
great cities, which the church, in none of its branches, has materially lessened. From the efforts now being made in America for the restoration of the Diaconate of woman, it is safe to argue a change for the better in this respect. The new departure in methods has also an important illustration in the city of Chicago, where, under the leadership of D. L. Moody, gifts amounting to $250,000 have been secured for a theological school and home, to be conducted under the auspices of the Chicago Evangelical Society, which is to be open to both sexes upon the same terms. Its object is the evangelization of the unchurched masses of that great city.
The evils which have resulted to society, and which threaten the very life of the nation by the long neglect to establish proper relations between the vast army of ignorant and degraded beings throughout the land with the active life of Christianity, have become too appalling to be contemplated with indifference, even by the most callous and selfish. The call for service of a most heroic kind is urgent and pressing. For this work of redemption, women have an especial fitness. Invested with all the sanction the church can bestow, supplemented by municipal authority where necessary, let the Christian womanhood of America rise to the level of the demand ; “In His Name," their motto, In His spirit, their inspiration. No pure-hearted, strong-purposed woman but can find a place here to labor as “a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man."
ADA M. BITTENBENDER.
The history of various ages and nations, since the days of the prophetess Deborah, who filled the office of judge among the children of Israel (Judges iv. 4), records the names of women distinguished for their legal learning, some of whom were also successful advocates. Among the latter we content ourselves with mentioning Aspasia, who pleaded causes in the Athenian forum, and Amenia Sentia and Hortensia in the Roman forum. But, alas, the right of Roman women to follow the profession of advocate was taken away in consequence of the obnoxious conduct of Calphurnia, who, from “excess of boldness” and “by reason of making the tribunals resound with howlings uncommon in the forum," says Velerius Maximus, was forbidden to plead. (Velerius Maximus, Hist. lib. viii. ch. iii.) The law, made to meet the especial case of Calphurnia, ultimately, “under the influences of the anti-feministic tendencies " of the period, was converted into a general one. In its wording the law sets forth that the original reason of woman's exclusion “rested solely on the doings of Caphrania." (Lex. I, sec. 5, Dig. iii. i.)
This exclusion furnished a precedent for other nations which, in the course of time, was followed. Dr. Louis Frank, of the Faculty of Law at Bologna, in a pamphlet entitled “ La Femme Avocat,” translated by Mary A. Greene, LL.B., of Boston, and published in 1889 in serial form in the Chicago Law Times, in speaking on this point, says:
“ Without taking time to discuss the rudimentary law of the ancient German Colonies, we recall only that institution of Germanic origin, the vogt or advocatus, whose care it was to represent every woman at the court of the suzerain, in judicial acts and debates. .... The ancient precedents were conceived and