Category Archives: women in leadership

Seven Female Authors of Scripture


“Sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.”
Exodus 15:21


“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned;
travelers took to winding paths.
Villagers in Israel would not fight;
they held back until I, Deborah, arose,
until I arose, a mother in Israel.
God chose new leaders
when war came to the city gates,
but not a shield or spear was seen
among forty thousand in Israel.
My heart is with Israel’s princes,
with the willing volunteers among the people.
Praise the Lord!”
Judges 5:6-9


“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
Ruth 1:16-17


“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.”
1 Samuel 2:1-2


Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
Esther 4:15-16


When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Luke 1:41-45


“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
Luke 1:46-55


Filed under women in leadership

Witherington Critiques “Masculine Christianity”

Lately among some Calvinists there has been promotion of “Masculine Christianity”. Not all of their ideas and observations are off mark. God is referred to as male in scripture, and there is a place for exhorting men to keep their responsibilities. However, it sometimes becomes evident that Piper, Driscoll and others are not as interested in encouraging men as they are in keeping women “in their place”. And that is sinful. It is wrong to prevent women from leading when they are gifted and have been called by the Holy Spirit to do so. And it’s also misguided to present God in such a way that focuses only on His “masculine” qualities. Women are made in God’s image too. Every quality a woman has also comes from God.

Ben Witherington gives a good critique here: John Piper on Men in Ministry, and the Masculinity of Christianity. From the post:

Well let’s start with the orthodox Christian point that GOD IS NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE IN THE DIVINE NATURE. The Bible is clear enough that God is ‘spirit’, not flesh and gender is always a manifestation of flesh….Just as it is wrong to say that the father language in the Bible is just a bad outcropping of the thinking of those who lived in an overwhelmingly patriarchal culture and couldn’t help themselves, so it is also equally bad theology to suggest that the reason for the Father and King language in the Bible is because this tells us something about the divine nature or even the divine will that ‘Christianity’ have a masculine feel.


Filed under Ben Witherington, John Piper, women in leadership

Women are Called to Preach – Part 2 – Scriptural Prohibitions?

This is the second post in a series. The first can be found here: Women are Called to Preach – part 1

Does scripture  preclude the possibility of women preaching and teaching?  There are two passages from Paul’s letters that are frequently referenced by those who hold to that view:

1 Cor. 14:34-35: The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

1 Timothy 2:11-15: A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

These passages are not universal prohibitions for women preaching.   Rather, Paul is demonstrating a universal principle:  True followers of Jesus Christ are willing to set aside their rights in order to advance the gospel.  Paul lived this principle out in his ministry, and it is foremost in his mind when he addresses the multiple problems that confront the Corinthians.

I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. (1 Cor 10:23-24)

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. (1 Cor 10:32-33)

There were circumstances unique to the Corinthian and Ephesian churches that created an environment where the advancement of the gospel was better served if women temporarily set aside their rights to speak in gatherings.  Paul is addressing those circumstances.  Paul also indicates that he is expressing his personal desire that women be quiet, and that he is not giving a timeless  principle.  We also observe that in other passages Paul (and the other apostles) permitted women to speak.

The Cultures of Corinth and Ephesus
In Corinth and Ephesus it was best that women first learn propriety.  This was more important than their freedom.   The women were uneducated, and were exiting a pagan religion dominated by females.  Paul was concerned with the behavior of the women, and how their behavior impacted their witness to the church and the larger culture.   Pagan religion in Corinth and Ephesus encouraged women to be disruptive and to emotionally exalt themselves.  Women in the Christian gatherings were mimicking these pagan rites.

Hank Hanegraaf notes that:

Paul’s words refute the matriarchal authoritarianism practiced by pagan cults in that day. Ephesus, where Timothy ministered, was the home of a cult dedicated to the pagan goddess Artemis. Worship of Artemis was conducted under the authority of an entirely female priesthood that exercised authoritarian dominion over male worshipers. Thus, Paul emphasizes that women should not presume undue authority over men. Paul neither elevates women over men nor men over women, but is rather concerned that men and women be granted equal opportunity to learn and grow in submission to one another and to God.(1)

Should All Women Wear Head Coverings?
Similarly, the appearance of the Corinthian women is addressed by Paul with the  requirement that all women wear head coverings or shave their head (1 Cor 11:5-6).   Today most recognize that the head covering requirement was a cultural prohibition and not a timeless one (although John Calvin thought it was timeless!).  A woman who removed her head covering while praying or prophesying was mimicking another pagan religious rite.   Michael Marlow notes that there “are many points of contact between the practices of the mystery cults and the issues Paul deals with in his letters to the Corinthians”.(2)  Paul wanted the women of Corinth to make changes in their lives in order be distinguishable in behavior and appearance from the pagans around them.

As a side note,  a common Greek head covering was a headband.  Paul wasn’t necessarily concerned with visible hair being immodest. We also see the cultural context in Paul’s exhortation for slaves to obey their masters (Colossians 3:22).   Few today would argue that Paul was an advocate of slavery.  However, in a society that permitted slavery, it was best for Christian slaves to obey their masters.  In this way the Christian slaves set a Godly example.

Preach the Gospel with the Heart of a Servant
Having the heart of a servant requires willingness to set aside one’s rights.   We see this principle at work when Paul requires that Timothy be circumcised (Acts 16:3).  Yet in a different context, Paul prevented Titus from being circumcised (Gal 2:3-5).  Preaching the gospel and helping the weaker believer are what is important, individual rights are less important.

Freedom is great when it fosters the gospel (Galations 5:1).  We are free in Christ, and if a group of people know better, they should not set up barriers to restrict someone from using their God given talents.  That is why we see different approaches with the circumcision of Timothy and Titus.  Timothy’s circumcision advanced the gospel, but Titus’ circumcision would not have.  So it was not demanded of him.  Paul would not allow the Judiazers to create false requirements to exclude Titus from ministry.

The same principle  applies to women preaching.  If a woman’s preaching is beneficial and done for the good of others, it ought to be encouraged.  In an egalitarian society such as ours, women should be encouraged to preach, teach, and use their gifts of leadership.  Preventing them from doing so is sinful.  It is done by creating false requirements made with the same spirit of the Judiazaers of Galatia.  Yet, there may be other cases where a woman preaching is not beneficial (say to a Muslim male).   Likewise, there may be times when a man should not preach (say at a battered woman’s shelter).  In such cases, those with the heart of a servant do not demand their liberty.

Paul’s Preferences
Paul sometimes distinguishes between his personal preferences and what God says (See 1 Cor 7:8-12).  Paul expresses a personal desire in 1 Timothy 2:11 when he says  “I do not permit a women to preach.”  Paul doesn’t say God prohibits all women from preaching, rather he (Paul) does, in that given place and time.  As demonstrated above, Paul had good reasons for not permitting it.

Theologian C.S. Cowles also points out that the phrase “I do not permit a woman to preach.” is in the present tense in Greek:

Although commonly translated as a permanent injunction, it does not read that way in the Greek. The Greek verb is in the present active indicative case and ought to be translated, “I am not presently permitting a woman to teach . . .“(3)

Cowles also writes:

…Paul had no intention whatsoever of laying down a timeless and universal principle prohibiting women from either teaching (preaching) or exercising positions of leadership in the church. Rather, he was cautioning women from assuming roles for which they were neither trained nor equipped at that time. He was encouraging them to be submissive and quiet learners until they had been fully instructed in “true doctrine,” after which they would then be qualified and competent to exercise the authority of one who teaches sound doctrine. 

As Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul was motivated to do the things that would be for the good of many – that they might be saved.  His temporary prohibition of women speaking should be understood in that light.

Prophesying in Public?
Elsewhere in First Corinthians Paul implicitly acknowledges that women can prophesy in a public setting (1 Cor 11:5).  This gives more evidence that Paul was not setting down a timeless principle for women to be quiet.  In addition, we have other examples in the New Testament of women prophesying (Anna, Phoebe, Priscilla, the daughters of Phillip).

In conclusion, there are no timeless prohibitions against women preaching.  It is a mistake to use Paul’s writings in a way that blocks women from using their gifts today.  In fact, it is sinful to set up false barriers that block women from serving God in their calling.  At the same time, we as Christians need to remember that we are called to  preach the gospel with the heart of a servant.  It is not about our rights, but is about the gospel of Jesus Christ.


(1) Must Women be Silent in Church?, Hank Hanegraaff

(2) Headcovering Custums of the Ancient World, Michael Marlowe

(3) John Calvin, Commentary on Corinthians. p 220-221

(4) A Woman’s Place? Leadership in the Church, by C.S. Cowles, Chapter 6 p 146-147


Filed under women in leadership, women preachers

Women Are Called to Preach – Part 1

The prevalence of women preachers is a fair measure of the spirituality of a church, a country, or an age. As the church grows more apostolic and more deeply spiritual, women preachers and workers abound in that church; as it grows more worldly and cold, the ministry of women is despised and gradually ceases altogether.C.E. Brown

Christian women should be  encouraged to be preachers of the gospel. Scripture affirms it, Jesus modeled it, and the the Apostles supported it. Women in leadership reflect the coming of God’s kingdom.

Jesus included women in his ministry
One of the revolutionary aspects of Jesus’ earthly ministry was the way he included women in everything. He rejected the assigned gender roles of his society (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus taught women. He healed women, calling one a “daughter of Abraham” (Luke 13:15-16). He treated women with dignity, valued them, and encouraged them to participate in his ministry (Luke 8:1-3). He did all this in a society where women were valued no more than dogs.

Jesus consented to the Samaritan woman proclaiming him as the Christ.
John 4:7-41 records the remarkable story of the Samaritan woman at the well, the first person in John’s gospel to whom Jesus revealed that he was the Messiah. Jesus entrusted this non-Jewish woman to proclaim him as the Christ to her people. John records that, Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” (John 4:39).  The Samaritan woman openly testified Jesus as the Christ.  People heard her and believed. Her testimony was blessed and it bore fruit.

Women were entrusted to be the first to proclaim the Lord’s resurrection.
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her (John 20:18). All four gospels record that women were the first to see the empty tomb, and the first to proclaim the Lord’s resurrection (Mathew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20). Women were the first to share the good news. Jesus trusted women in this role.  We ought to be able to as well, following his example.

Women are liberated in Christ.
In Christ, a woman is as valuable as a man. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galations 3:28). There was a time when Christians tolerated racial supremacy and slavery. Today we recognize that these practices are sinful. Likewise, exclusion of women from ministry is sinful.  It denies the full value and potential of a person created in the image of God to do good things for him.  Itt denies the woman in her God given calling, and quenches the Holy Spirit.

Women in leadership reflect the healing of creation.
The oppression of women was not part of God’s original plan. Man’s dominion is a result of the fall (Genesis 3:16). In Christ, we overcome the sin of the fall. We look forward to creation being liberated from its bondage. Women in leadership reflect the way God intended for things to be. They give evidence of a healed creation.

A thistle free garden
Some argue that women should stay subservient because it was part of God’s curse at the fall. Using this line of reasoning, one should also argue that a garden full of thistles is better than a weeded one, given that thistles were part of Adam’s curse (Genesis 3:17). A weed free garden is beautiful, useful, and better reflects God’s original intent. Likewise, women in leadership reflect God’s intent. It is good and right to honor and support women in their calling as they follow Christ. In doing so we declare the coming of the kingdom of God, and we have a foretaste of what is to come.

Women led in the early church.
Scripture indicates that women prophesied and taught in the early church. They were accepted in these roles by the Apostles. Phillip the evangelist had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). Peter, quoting the prophet Joel, declared that “your sons and daughters will prophesy” (Acts 2:17). The prophesy of women is mentioned in 1 Cor 11:15. Pricilla and her husband Aquilla are mentioned as leaders who helped disciple Paul. It is significant that Pricilla is listed first when the couple is named. This would have been a very unusual way of addressing a married couple at the time, and strongly indicates that Pricilla was the more active leader of the two. (Acts 18:2-3,18, 26; Romans 16:3-4; 1 Cor 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19). Lydia, a friend of Paul, ministered from her house (Acts 16:13-15,40). Nympha ran a house church (Col 4:15). The book of Second John was written to an unnamed woman. It is apparent from the context that she was in a leadership role. Paul mentions Phoebe as a leader (deacon) of the church in Cenchrea (Romans 16:1-2). Junia is mentioned as outstanding among the apostles (Romans 16:7).

Women should preach because God desires it. Jesus was the first to allow women to preach. His disciples followed him in that practice. Women are blessed by God in this role.  Women in leadership reflect a healthy church.

Next up: Part 2 – Scriptural Prohibitions?

See also: Women Leaders in the Wesleyan Movements


Filed under women in leadership

Women Leaders in the Wesleyan Movements

This post contains some short biographies of women who were early leaders (prior to 1900) in the various Wesleyan inspired movements. The Methodist, Holiness, and Charismatic movements all have a rich egalitarian history.

Due to the length of this post, many worthy names are omitted. This list should not be considered exhaustive.

Sarah Crosby (1729-1804) Sarah was born in Leeds, Yorkshire. A former Calvinist, she became a Methodist after hearing John Wesley preach. In 1761 she became one of the first female preachers in Methodism. She traveled and preached extensively, with the encouragement of John Wesley.

Barbara Heck (1734-1804) An immigrant from Ireland, Barbara was instrumental in the founding of the Methodist movement in New York state. She is known as the mother of American Methodism. She was a loyalist (supporter of England). After the American Revolution, her family relocated to Canada and she continued her work there.

Mary Bosanquet Fletcher (1739-1815) Mary was an early leader in the Methodist movement. She was a preacher and teacher. She managed a house in London to take care of the poor and destitute. Later in life she married John Fletcher (a close associate of John Wesley). After Mr. Fletcher’s death, she continued in ministry for another 30 years.

Jarena Lee (1783-1849) Lee was the first female preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was born in New Jersey (a free state). In 1819 she received permission from the AME to preach. She was an evangelist who traveled throughout the East and Midwestern United States, including the slave states of Virginia and Maryland. She wrote a small autobiography (online here), where she gives a moving account of her conversion, and how she was called to preach. ” For as unseemly as it may appear now-a-days for a woman to preach, it should be remembered that nothing is impossible with God. And why should it be thought impossible, heterodox, or improper for a woman to preach? seeing the Savior died for the woman as well as for the man.”

Fanny Butterfield Newell (1793-1824) Fanny was the wife of a well known Methodist preacher, and also preached herself. They helped found a Methodist church in Sydney Maine, Fanny preached in the New England states.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) Sojourner was was a fiery Methodist, who spoke on the topics of abolition, women’s suffrage, prison reform, and capital punishment. Her early life contains the awful stories common to slave women. She was born in New York and became emancipated when New York outlawed slavery. “Where did Christ come from? From God and a woman. Man had nothing to do with Him!”

Juliann Jane Tillman (?-?) Tillman was preacher in the AME in the early part of the 19th century. She was probably an itinerant evangelist. In the early days of the AME, women were permitted to preach, but not to be in leadership in the local church. The lithograph below was done in 1844.

Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874) Palmer was an evangelist, author, and prayer warrior. She was instrumental in the founding of the American Holiness movement. She had a heart for the poor, and started an inner city mission in New York City. She wrote a book entitled “The Promise of the Father” which advocated women in leadership. “Earnest prayers, long fasting, and burning tears may seem befitting, but cannot move the heart of infinite love to a greater willingness to save. God’s time is now. The question is not, What have I been? or What do I expect to be? But, Am I now trusting in Jesus to save to the uttermost? If so, I am now saved from all sin.”

Laura Smith Haviland (1808-1898) Laura was the daughter of Quaker leaders and later worked with the Wesleyan Methodists in the fight against slavery. She was a well known abolitionist, and active in the underground railroad (helping African slaves escape to free states). The Wesleyan Methodist church recognized her work by giving her a district appointment (the same authority that a pastor of a church would receive).

Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915) Crosby penned the lyrics for more than 8000 poems and hymns. She sometimes used pseudonyms when writing because publishers were reluctant to fill their hymnals entirely with her work. Crosby memorized long passages of scripture. She was a frequent public speaker, and a sought after revival preacher. She was an advocate of education for the blind (being blinded herself in early childhood). Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Sarah Smith (1822-1908) Known as “Mother Smith”, Sarah was a believer in the power of God. She had little formal eduction, knowing only how to write simple print. Originally a timid person, she became a bold prayer warrior after a sanctification experience. At the age of 61, she first felt the call to preach. She joined a group of holiness evangelists who held revival meetings and planted new churches in many different states. These churches eventually formed the “Anderson Church of God” denomination.

Julia Foote (1823-1900) Julia was born in New york, a child of former slaves. She was a longtime member of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AMEZ). By the late 1840’s she felt a call to preach, and became a traveling evangelist.

Mary Clarke Nind (1825-1905) Mary was a leader in the Methodist missionary movement. She founded the “Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society”. Originally a Congregationalist, Mary became a Methodist because of her interest in holiness doctrine, and because of her desire to preach the Gospel. She was affectionately called “Our Little Bishop”.

Annie Wittenmyer (1827-1900) Nicknamed “God’s angel”, Annie was best known for her work assisting wounded Union soldiers during the American civil war. President Grant is quoted as saying “No soldier on the firing line gave more heroic service than she did.” Annie had a special heart for children. She wrote children’s hymns, established Sunday schools, and dedicated time to assisting war orphans. She was was a writer and leader in the Temperance movement. She was active in leadership in the development of the state of Iowa.

Catherine Booth (1829-1890) William and Catherine Booth founded the Salvation Army. Catherine’s leadership skills and strong Wesleyan theology were instrumental in the formation of the organization. She often preached to to more affluent audiences, urging them to minister to the poor. She was involved in the temperance movement, seeing the effects of alcohol abuse. Catherine was known as the “Army Mother”.

Jennie Fowler Willing (1834-1916) Willing founded the “New York Evangelistic Training School”, which was a missionary training center. She was ordained in 1873. She was an early Christian expert on Mormonism, and wrote a book entitled: Mormonism: The Mohammedanism of the West.

Mary Depew (1836-1892) Mary was an evangelist for the Wesleyan Methodists, and was a major influence in the Wesleyan Holiness revival. She preached throughout Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.

Amanda Berry Smith (1837-1915) Amanda was known as “the colored evangelist”. Born a slave, by 1840 her parents had saved enough money to purchase the family’s freedom. They moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania, and joined the abolitionist movement. Amanda taught herself to read by cutting letters from the newspapers that her father brought home. By the 1870’s Amanda had become a well known holiness evangelist, frequently preaching at revivals and camp meetings. She traveled throughout the United States. She spent 12 years abroad, doing missionary work in Europe, India, and Africa. She founded an orphanage in Chicago.

Elizabeth Sisson (1843-1934) Elizabeth was a writer, missionary, and preacher. She was an early missionary to India, where she ministered among the Hindus. After returning to the USA she became a popular evangelist and speaker in the young charismatic movement. She was a co-editor for a publication called “Triumph of Faith” (with Carrie Judd, see below). Elizabeth was involved in the founding of the Assemblies of God, and was ordained in 1917.

Anna (Annie) Hanscome (1845? – 1899) Annie was a holiness preacher. In 1890, she founded a church in Malden, Massachusetts. She was ordained in 1892 by a holiness group that would later join the Nazarene church, thus making her the first of many ordained females in the denomination. The church she founded continues today, and is one of the oldest Nazarene churches in existence.

Emma Whittemore (1850-1931) Emma Whittemore was an unlikely leader. She and her husband Sydney and were wealthy New York socialites. They both felt called to serve the poor. Emma was quite timid and shy, until the Holy Spirit called her into service. She founded the “Door of Hope” mission in New York City, which ministered to street girls. The Whittemores became leaders in the Salvation Army, and were also active in the foundation of Gospel Rescue Missions. Emma was a popular public speaker.

Carrie Judd Montgomery (1858-1946) After being bedridden for a number of years, Carrie had an amazing healing experience. Afterwords she began to share her story with others. She was a well respected person, and preached to widely different audiences. She shared her message with multiracial groups, and with any church who would open their doors. She was involved with the Salvation Army, and was acquainted with many leaders in the various Wesleyan-Holiness movements. She was involved in the founding of the Christian Missionary Alliance, and of the Assemblies of God. At a time when many were suspicious of the new Charismatic movement, Carrie was a unifier who helped to promote unity between Holiness and Charismatic groups.

Rachel Bradley. Rachel’s motto was “The World for Jesus”. She was a Free Methodist. She founded a number of missions and outreach programs in Chicago, the oldest of which was the Olive Branch Mission, established in 1867. At the time, prostitution was rampant in the city, even among young girls, who were bought and sold by the brothels. Rachel took girls off the street and taught them skills in order to give them an alternate means to provide for themselves. The mission is still in operation today.

Helenor M. Davison Helenor M. Davison was a Methodist, and was ordained in 1866 by the North Indiana Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church, probably making her the first ordained woman in the American Methodist tradition.

Florence Lee (1859-1958) Florence was an ordained minister in the Pilgrim Holiness Church (A parent body of the Wesleyan Church). She was an evangelist, ran a rescue home in Colorado, was active in the PCH Bible college, and was an editor of a magazine called “The Mission Advance”.

Fannie McDowell Hunter (1860-1912?) Fannie was the grand daughter of a Methodist circuit rider. She was a holiness evangelist, and was involved in the founding of the Church of the Nazarene. She wrote a book entitled “Women preachers” which was a compilation of stories of contemporary women preachers.

Dr Lilian Yeomans (1861-1942) Lilian and her mother Amelia were physicians in Manitoba. They learned medicine in Michigan, as Canada did not admit women into med school at the time. They provided health care for women and children, the poor in their community. Lilian became addicted to morphine after using it on the job. After nearly dying, she was healed from the addiction. She gave up her medical practice, and became an evangelist and a missionary to the Cree Indians. She wrote about diving healing and how God had healed her addition. She was a popular speaker on the topic of healing.

Alma B. White (1862-1946) Alma was an amazing woman, yet not without controversy because of her racism. She founded the “Pillar of Fire” church denomination. She was the first female bishop of a denomination in the United States. She was involved in the temperance and woman’s suffrage movements.

Rachel Sizelove (1864-1941) Rachel was an itinerant evangelist. Initially a Free Methodist, she became Charismatic after hearing William Seymour preach at the Azuza Street revival in Los Angeles. She founded the original Assembly of God church in Springfield, Missouri.

Mary Lee Cagle (1864-1955) Mary was a holiness preacher from Alabama. She felt the call to preach at a young age, but was discouraged by her family from following the call. She married an evangelist named Robert Lee Harris, and first learned to preach by observing him. After Harris died of tuberculosis, Mary began preaching on her own. She traveled with a group of women evangelists. She also often preached to black congregations. This was quite unusual at the time for a white woman from rural Alabama. She helped to found a number of holiness churches in Alabama, Texas and New Mexico. She was involved in the formation of the Church of the Nazarene.

Santos Elizondo (1867-1941) Santos was born in Mexico. She became a Christian at one of Phineas Bresee’s Holiness revivals in Los Angeles. She founded at least two churches, one in El Paso, TX, and another in Juarez, Mexico. She lead Nazarene missions in Mexico for 35 years. While there, she founded orphanages and ministered to the poorest of the poor. Because of her servant heart, she was able to overcome much of the initial Mexican cultural hostility to her work (being Protestant and female were two big strikes). A number of prominent priests and officials attended her funeral.

Elsie Wallace (?-?) In 1897 Elsie founded a holiness mission in Spokane, WA. The mission was “literally filled on its four sides with saloons and places of wickedness.” In 1902 the mission was reorganized as a church, and Elsie was unanimously called to become the first pastor. The church exists today as “Spokane First Nazarene Church”. Elsie also started churches in Ashland, OR; Boise, ID; Walla Walla, WA and Seattle, WA. In addition, she was a district superintendent (in charge of all churches in a region). The Pentecostal Messenger reported that Pastor Wallace “is indeed one of the best pastors we ha[ve] ever seen anywhere, and is doing a great work.”


In memory of my grandmother Lela Jackson. G’ma was an ordained minister (and many other things).


Filed under history, women in leadership

The ESV and Romans 16:7

Does anyone know why the ESV translates Romans 16:7 differently than the other major translations? I’m referring to where the ESV says that Andronicus and Junia (a female) were well known to the apostles. All the other major translations make it sound as if they WERE apostles (rather than merely known to them). Is this a legitimate interpretation?

Bold added by me.

ESV: Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.

NASB: Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

KJV: Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

NRSV: Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

NIV: Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

TNIV: Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

NLT: Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did.

ASV: Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in Christ before me.

(Click to enlarge and see the Greek interlinear text)


Filed under women in leadership