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The American holiness movement of the mid-nineteenth cen­tury provided a fertile seedbed for women preachers responding to the Spirit’s prompting. One such woman became the mother of a whole army of daughters, following their heroine into battle for the Lord. It was Catherine Mumford Booth (1829–1890), co­founder with her husband of The Salvation Army, who argued the innate equality of women and promoted them to clerical par­ity with men. Read more
he Salvation Army began rather inconspicuously in the East End of London in 1865. William Booth, an itinerant Methodist minister, had moved to London with his wife, Catherine, and their family so that Catherine would be enabled to conduct a preaching mission there. While preferring the provinces rather than London for his ministry, William nevertheless accepted an invitation to minister in London’s East End, and there he began a ministry eventually known as The Christian Mission. As the numbers of converts grew, William and Catherine Booth or­ganized that mission into an Army—a Salvation Army, taking advantage of the military imagery so common in nineteenth-century England with all the pageantry that such imagery afford­ed. The Army grew rapidly in Great Britain, and its ministers (of­ficers) and laypersons (soldiers) became common sights on the streets of cities and towns. By the early 1880s, the Army began to expand as a missionary organization to such places as Canada, America, France, and India. Read more
Catherine Booth was a formative influence in the founding of The Salvation Army. The movement, in fact, was co-founded by William and Catherine Booth. True, William Booth has been most often referred to as the Founder and Catherine as the Army Mother, but her influence was pervasive. She was his closest confidant and most candid critic. “Thou art to be my guardian watcher!” he once wrote to her during their courtship. And so she became. Before he knew her better, William made bold to express the popular understanding of the time that women were less endowed intellectually and spiritually than men. Catherine lost no time in disabusing him of any such notion, insisting that he come to “settled views” on the issue of women’s equality or they had little prospect of a future together. He did. Read more
Gregory the Great clearly expressed a belief in fundamental hu­man equality. This required him to offer some explanation, if only to himself, of his position at the top of the thoroughly hierarchical social and ecclesiastical authority structure of the sixth century. While his biographers have made his difficulty in accepting his episcopal calling well known, they have paid insufficient atten­tion to the role his egalitarian beliefs may have played in creating his distress. Some have minimized or even denied them.1 While, due to cultural or psychological constraints, he may never have openly acknowledged or even fully recognized the extent of the dissonance, it manifested itself in the burden he experienced in pastoral duties, the anguish he felt over his elevation to the papa­cy, and his longing for the contemplative life. In 590, the year he was consecrated as Pope Gregory I, known thereafter as Gregory the Great, he wrote a treatise presenting his ideas about pasto­ral ministry and explaining his reluctance to take the office. That work, entitled Pastoral Care in English translation, was the pri­mary text for pastoral ministry for one thousand years afterward and enjoys the reputation of an enduring classic even today.2 Evi­dence from it, supplemented by facts known about his life and gleaned from his correspondence, establishes the existence of his egalitarian beliefs and suggests some ways in which Gregory at­tempted to reconcile his power and authority with them. Read more
One of my spiritual mentors is a woman who lived six hundred years ago: Julian of Norwich. I admire her for the clarity of her descriptions of spiritual experience, her balanced and orthodox presentation of God as mother, and the divine comfort of her vi­sion of our sin and redemption. Read more
November 16 is the feast day of a remarkable woman: St. Marga­ret of Scotland. Margaret spent most of her early life in Hungary during her father’s exile. She returned to England with her family in 1056 or 1057, and, shortly after this her father died, leaving her brother as a possible heir to the childless Edward the Confessor. But, Edward died in January 1066, and then came the Norman Conquest. Her meeting with King Malcolm altered those plans and set Margaret on the course toward a career of queenship rather than the life of religious contemplation she seems to have wanted. Read more
Marchiene faced a painful choice. She could remain Christian Reformed and continue to fight for women's ordination – and be denied the opportunity to use her gifts. Or she could leave the denomination and follow her call elsewhere. After many weeks of prayer and struggle, she and her family concluded that her call was to be a woman in ministry. Read more
The specialist, after making a thorough examination of the little girl’s eyes, realized there was nothing more her could do. Her parents were so poor that the doctor’s fee had been paid by neighbors and friends. Now, as she and her mother were leaving his office, she heard the doctor say, “Poor little blind girl!” What he could not know was that the small blind girl would turn her handicap into a great blessing for many people. Francis Jane (Fanny) Crosby was born in New York on March 24, 1820. She caught a cold at the age of six weeks, and a doctor prescribed a mustard poultice for her inflamed eyes. Instead of healing them it damaged her eyes. By the age of five she was virtually blind, although she could distinguish between day and night. Read more
I recently had the opportunity to interview three of CBE’s most devoted members: Alvera Mickelsen, Ginny Erickson, and Betty Clark They were crowded around a table in CBE’s office, having volunteered to organize our historical files. As a newcomer to CBE, I had expected a cordial but formal interview (perhaps even with a few awkward silences). Instead, I was surprised and delighted by their sincerity and warmth. They welcomed me into the friendly conversation of longtime companions, openly discussed their lives with me, and asked me about my own life. They displayed all the humility and grace of true disciples of Jesus Christ. Read more
It is useless to deny that women can be victims. Increasingly, the secular press documents it. The Christian press has long acknowledged it in society at large and is now beginning to acknowledge it even within the sacred walls of the church of Jesus Christ. People are also beginning to acknowledge that sexual harassment and violence exist on the job, even in strongly Christian organizations. I recently stood beside a woman in such a situation. (In referring to her in this article, we will call her Sue.) I, too, had experienced sexual harassment on the job, but in a secular context. I found few differences in what needed to be done between the secular context and the Christian organizational context. Read more

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