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Throughout the nineteenth century, women struggled with oppressive interpretations of the Bible that deprived them of their power and dignity. But while Elizabeth Cady Stanton repudiated those portions of Sacred Writ which she found repressive, other women took another tack The most prominent voice declaring the Bible as liberating of women was raised by Katherine Bushnell, a crusader against the forced prostitution of women, and also world evangelist for the WCTU’s Department of Social Purity. Insisting that the Bible fully upheld the rights and integrity of women, Bushnell stated that she and her followers would not yield “one jot or tittle” of the inspired text. Convinced that the Bible’s message about women was one of empowerment and freedom, she developed a hermeneutic designed to challenge the complacency with which supposedly Bible-believing folk countenanced abuses against women. She further composed over one hundred and one studies for women—studies which became the precursor of much feminist thought that was unique in springing from a conservative theology. Read more
Margaret Fell, known to many as the “Mother of Quakerism,” is arguably one of the most fascinating figures in Western religious history. Though frequently overlooked by historians, Margaret Fell played a germinal role in the development of the Friends (Quaker) movement, and her life presents a compelling picture of the power of faith and the cost of discipleship. From her position as an educated woman of power and social standing in Cromwell’s England, Fell was able to defend and nurture Quaker founder George Fox and his followers, many of whom endured persecution or death as the movement grew. In addition to bringing organization and stability to the early Friends movement, she was also an able biblical exegete who authored sixteen books on Quaker distinctives such as pacifism, the role of women in the Church, and eschatology. Fearless in defense of her beloved fellow Quakers, Margaret Fell endured dungeons, met with Kings, and ultimately sacrificed all that she owned for her faith. Read more
This is the centenary year marking the death on October 12 of Cecil Frances Alexander, one of the greatest women hymn writers. Her funeral in Londonderry attracted a great crowd from all of Great Britain to pay tribute to this noble woman. Read more
How do we measure greatness? If by loftiness of purpose, we see Katherine Bushnell going to China as a medical missionary. We follow her across America and beyond its borders to several continents as she worked to reform conditions of human degradation. We read her closely reasoned exposition of Scripture as she tried to establish women in their rightful place in church and society. Read more
Have you ever met someone who quietly yet vividly made an impact on you? Let me introduce you to Kapiolani of Hawaii (??-1841). High chief, breaker of taboos, Christian champion, this heroic woman ruled both politically and spiritually. Her courage was internationally acclaimed though her greatest battle was private. Read more
An anchoress was a woman vowed to chastity and stability of abode. She was enclosed in an anchorhold for life. There was no release from her cell until death, on pain of excommunication. The object of her life was contemplation, the unceasing concentration upon God in prayer. Read more
Seven women. Four men. They called themselves The Jubilee Singers. One of America’s most astonishing successes, their music once rang out across the land. They changed the fabric of our culture by introducing spirituals to the American public for the first time. Yet their stories have been hushed. Read more
The nineteenth-century secular women’s movement paved the way in many countries for more women’s education, writing, and publishing. The church also benefited by this escalation of women in leadership; many Christian hymnbooks printed material by women for the first time. Read more
Accompanied by her chaperone, sixteen year old Clare would sneak off, without the knowledge of her parents, in order to hear the preaching of St. Francis. What attracted this young, wealthy beauty to the teaching of Francis? Why would she exchange the pleasures of a landed and aristocratic inheritance for the shorn hair, sackcloth, barefooted, celibate seclusion of the female Franciscans? Read more
In seventeenth-century England, a young girl came to the village of Elstow to be the wife of a tinker. History does not tell us where she came from. Possibly she was working as a servant girl near the town of Newport Pagnell, when she met her husband who was stationed there as a member of the Parliamentary army. When his service was over, they married and moved back to his home village of Elstow. Read more

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