The Australian church generally recognizes the first female Christian minister in the country to be Winifred Kiek (1884–1975). This is because Winifred was the first woman ordained as a minister of an existing Christian denomination. For this, and for the tandem truth that she was the first Australian woman to secure the necessary credentials for ordination, she should be remembered. It is the thesis of this article, however, that such a criterion for being remembered as the first female Christian minister is not broad enough. A different criterion is offered, and a different woman is then seen to be the holder of that “title”: Sarah Jane Lancaster (1858–1934).
Is ordination the correct basis for being seen as the first female minister in the country? Or should the criterion be “the first woman to run a church, deliver sermons, preside over communion, and serve as senior minister of her congregation”? Or should it be something else? Indeed, softening our emphasis on “firsts” and expanding the definition of ministry to include those not formally ordained will set the stage for finding other important early voices that deserve remembering and honoring.
Winifred Kiek was indeed a champion for women in the church. She was an amazing woman and one of the great early pioneers in women’s leadership in the church in Australia. Recognition of Winifred is prolific. Janet West writes regarding her: “a Congregationalist of Quaker origins . . . the first woman to be ordained in Australia—in Adelaide in 1927.”1 Likewise, The Australian Women’s Register states: “In 1927 she was ordained as a minister of the Congregational Church, making her the first woman to be ordained to the ministry of any church in Australia.”2 Walter Phillips notes the same in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, as do Carolyn Collins and Roy Eccleston in their book, Trailblazers: 100 Inspiring South Australian Women.3 All sources remind us that Winifred was the first ordained woman minister in Australia. This article will argue for a more nuanced approach to the history of the ministry of women in Australia, and that Sarah Jane Lancaster deserves recognition as the first female minister of a church in the country.
In highlighting Sarah Jane Lancaster, there is no intention to downplay the wonderful work and example of Winifred Kiek.4 Let us, therefore, consider a summary of her life.
Winifred was a trailblazer with a mammoth task in front of her. She was intelligent, extremely well educated, creative (she was quite the puppeteer5), and a respected pastor and preacher. Those who knew her testified that she was humble, sincere, and lived frugally. She was unassuming while, at the same time, strong and exceedingly accomplished.
Winifred was born in 1884 into a Quaker family in Manchester, UK, and grew up with views of pacifism and teetotalism.6 After achieving a first-class degree at Manchester University, she went about “teaching in the slums of her native city before marrying Sydney Kiek, an Oxford theologian and Congregational minister. His views on women were years ahead of his time; he did not expect his wife to be domesticated, but felt that anyone with intellectual gifts should be developing them for the service of God and man.”7 He supported and encouraged his wife’s work in the church, and the household secured paid domestic help to assist in that goal.
Sydney became Principal of the Congregational Theological College in Adelaide, Australia, and the family moved there in 1920. Soon after, Winifred became the first woman to gain a bachelor of divinity degree in Australia (from Melbourne University).8 She began lecturing in OT and continued her studies. In 1926, shortly before her ordination, she was working as a probation officer helping troubled young people.9
In 1927, Winifred was accepted as a Congregational minister after demonstrating skills at pastoral care and ministry:
When she offered to preach one Sunday in 1926 at the new housing area of Colonel Light Gardens, the Congregational Church in Adelaide which was short on Ministers readily accepted. The Congregational Church in Britain had been ordaining women to full ministry since 1918. Winifred Kiek began by arranging pulpit studies, delivering her sermons and visiting those in need. The church soon applied to the union for the ordination of their new Minister. Permission was granted and on 13 June 1927, she was ordained. . . .10
A portrait of the young Winifred Kiek.11
Some of Winifred’s sermons have survived, and they make clear that she was consistent in her theology and her life. For example, she “expressed her views on the status of women . . . she held that Christ had removed ‘the curse’ of inferiority.”12 This was (and remains) a key argument of egalitarians. At the same time, she did not revel in her achievements for women. Rather, as she said herself, “My chief desire is to emphasise the fact that a woman may have a message from God just as a man.”13
Not everyone was happy with this decision to ordain a woman to be a minister, or to preach, but it stood, and Winifred established herself as a competent and intelligent minister.14 This incredible woman remained a respected and effective minister of the church for some years.15
Winifred Kiek at the time of her ordination in Adelaide: 1927.16
It would take another ten years for the next woman to be ordained: another Congregational minister, the Reverend Isabelle Merry.17
However, before any of this happened, there was Sarah Jane Lancaster.
Sarah Jane Lancaster
Even before Winifred was ordained in 1927, Sarah Jane Lancaster had been leading a public church meeting every Sunday in Melbourne since 1909.18 She had a Methodist background but was drawn to an expression of the Christian faith that included prayers for physical healing, baptism in the Spirit, and speaking in tongues.
Lancaster’s church was the Good News Hall. She founded the church, she led the church, she oversaw the establishment of new churches with the same name in numerous states. She evangelised; she sent out her best lay ministers to look after the new Good News Hall churches elsewhere. She preached regularly, led communion, and taught by both preaching and writing. She did all this for years. In every way, she was the senior, founding, guiding minister of her church and the leader of the denomination that grew from her work.
Barry Chant notes that there were concerns about whether her sex should exclude her from such leadership. To help appease some of the concerns, in 1923, fourteen years after beginning the work, Sarah Jane set up three male elders to work with her.19 When the time came to merge her work and churches into the Apostolic Faith Mission of Australasia,20 she was key to the negotiations, and she made the decision (with reservations) to go ahead with that move.
An early photo of the front of Good News Hall.21
The issue was, and still is, that Sarah Jane was not ordained by an established Christian denomination to do the work she embarked on. Therefore, she is not generally recognised as the first woman minister in Australia.
However, in beginning her work, Sarah Jane was not a part of an established denomination and was therefore not able to be officially ordained. Winifred Kiek, on the other hand, went through that process because she was not starting a new branch of the faith.
If Sarah Jane is not seen as a “real” minister, the question has to be asked: what does a “real” minister do that she was not doing? Why is being ordained by the denomination you are a part of the criterion for being seen as a real minister? And why—intentionally or not— would it be the prerequisite for being thought of as “the first female Christian minister” in Australia?
There is a serious problem with the assumption that you must be an ordained minister to be an actual minister. First, to use ordination as the test would mean that the founder of every denomination cannot be seen as a real minister because they were not ordained by a recognised Christian denomination as they began their breakaway work. Was Martin Luther an upstart who should not be recognised as a legitimate minister of the Lutheran Church because no one with the relevant authority from the Catholic Church ordained him to begin that work? (That was certainly the view of the Catholic Church of his day.) Do we instead highlight the first person who was ordained in that breakaway Lutheran group—and then remember that person as more significant than Luther? Should John Calvin not be seen as a legitimate minister of his church because no one from the Catholic Church (or even the Lutheran churches of the time) officially ordained him to start the work he was beginning?
It is an impossible argument: the founder of any new denomination must be disqualified from being a genuine minister of that new denomination because they have not been ordained by an existing denomination for the purpose of starting the new work.
But of course, such an argument is never applied to the founders of other Christian denominations. That forces us to ask another question: why then is Sarah Jane Lancaster treated differently? The answer is three-pronged: her sex, her Pentecostalism, and her theological position on some issues, especially the Trinity.
Being a woman and being a Pentecostal would each have been enough to keep her out of most Christian history books written in the first half of the 1900s. The added fact that she did not describe the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in an Orthodox way (but preferred to only use scriptural terms for them) made it all-the-more likely that she would be rejected. Those factors, combined, prejudiced virtually everyone against her in her day.
If she had been “just a woman” but in a group like the Congregationalists, perhaps it would have been different (though probably still too early even for them). If she had been a man and a Pentecostal, then “he” would be acknowledged as the first minister of the Pentecostals in Australia. In such a case, of course, such a man would not be competing for the title of the first male minister of the country. There were plenty around before 1900 (an Anglican minister arrived with the First Fleet of prisoners in 1788). But alas, Sarah Jane had both her sex and her religious peculiarities working against her.
The defender of using ordination as a key criterion for recognition, and therefore for seeing Winifred Kiek as the first true female Christian minister, might see a problem with my broader criteria. Does it not allow for every cult and self-proclaimed leader of a new movement to be considered for the same historical recognition?
In response, my thesis regarding Sarah Jane has stood the test of time. Over time, Pentecostals have formed accepted denominations within the body of Christ. The self-professed leaders of divergent new groups that have never been accepted by the broader Christian community are therefore disqualified from consideration. The leader of such a group would not be qualified for consideration since he or she was seen as a heretic not only at first, but also to this day.
That being so, since Sarah Jane was deemed a heretic and a new cult leader in her own day, it is understandable that her generation did not acknowledge her. Fred Lancaster, Sarah Jane’s grandson, commented in my interview with him: “[My grandmother] had been cut off by the rest of the Christian Churches when she became a Pentecostal and when she opened the Good News Hall. She was seen as an extreme radical, even a heretic, and she was rejected. The only group that supported her or showed her any love and warmth was the Seventh Day Adventists.”22
A rare photo of Sarah Jane Lancaster.23
That rejection might have been understandable in the early 1900s, but it does not have any credibility in the 2020s. Over a century has passed; it is negligent to still ignore her work. Over time, the Pentecostal movement has been accepted as a legitimate expression of the Christian faith. And women have become more accepted as ministers in churches (in many denominations, at least).
Over time, Sarah Jane Lancaster has been accepted as founding and leading an actual Christian congregation. Even though she was initially seen as a cult leader, she is no longer seen that way. Rather, she is seen as a real Christian who had her own church in Melbourne.
The Doctrine of the Trinity
There is debate to this day regarding some of Sarah Jane’s teachings, especially in regard to the Trinity. Her beliefs and teachings are mostly found in early editions of Good News (Good News Hall’s monthly newsletter). This itself is problematic because most of the early articles do not give an author’s name. Some name their author, but Sarah Jane’s articles were generally not so identified. However, it is fairly assumed that the anonymous articles were Sarah Jane’s, or at the very least, endorsed by her.
Some of the early articles in that publication demonstrate a less than orthodox position on the Trinity.24 Some of the most controversial comments can be seen in the January 1913 issue of Good News:
Here is the key to the mystery. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are One and the Same Person. . . . We acknowledge and worship One God, Jehovah, the Holy Spirit who spake by the prophets, the Father who dwelt in Jesus Christ and who is pouring out His Spirit today (His substance is spirit) “upon all flesh”. We can say with the apostle Paul, “To us there is but ONE GOD, the Father, and One Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Cor 8:6.25
Later in the same article comes the comment: “There is nothing in the Bible about an equal and co-eternal, ‘God the Son’ and the term ‘God’ is applied to our Lord as Son of God in a lower degree, as it is also used of men. Ps 82:6.”26
Such early comments tagged her negatively in the eyes of her critics. Chant demonstrates that, over time, the Good News Hall mellowed on this issue after they merged into the Apostolic Faith Mission of Australasia. They were, from then on, orthodox in their statements about the inter-relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.27 (It is possible that Sarah Jane continued to talk about the Father, Son, and Spirit in the words of Scripture alone, but publicly she chose to be more silent regarding her views on the topic.)
Other doctrinal divergences with the majority of Christians (e.g., hell not being eternal, the nature of the Baptism in the Spirit and the desirability for all to speak in tongues, her apparent rejection of medicines, her view of “soul sleep” instead of instantly going to be with the Lord after death, and her rapture doctrine) are not as significant in that they are not “salvation issues.” The Trinity, however, is a more distinctive and precious doctrine. It has arguably been the test of orthodoxy for much of Christian history (at least since the Nicaean Council in the early 300s).
Even fellow Pentecostals (from Pentecostal groups outside of the Good News Hall) tended to reject Sarah Jane and label her as unorthodox and therefore as not a true leader of a Christian church because of her teaching on the Trinity. C. L. Greenwood, her contemporary and the most important early leader of the Richmond Temple, considered her in error. After visiting a Lancaster meeting, he said: “I looked on the platform [and] I saw this woman. I knew this woman. She was the leader of the meeting. She did not believe in the Trinity, she did not believe in the personality of the Holy Spirit. . . .”28 It is also clear that Greenwood, though he encouraged women to minister under the authority of male leaders, did not believe women should be leaders in the church.29
Regarding Sarah Jane’s views on the Trinity, her grandson Fred Lancaster gave an insightful perspective.30 “A lot of mileage is made out of Mother Lancaster’s supposed doctrinal errors and especially her mishandling of the Trinity.” Fred suggested that because she did spend time with the Adventists, she picked up some of their teachings (like soul sleep at death), but “she never abandoned her Methodist doctrines.” Fred said that her enemies (from other churches) who were jealous of her work and her impact, “magnified my grandmother’s doctrines” and made them out to be more serious than they were. Ordinary people summarize teachings and doctrines informally, and when good Christian men and women try to summarize teaching on the Trinity, it is different from the theological statements scholars use. These quotations can then be misused to say that the Good News Hall did not believe in the Trinity.
It is difficult to fully reconcile the early articles in Good News that discuss the relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit with Fred Lancaster’s comments. However, it is easier to understand people getting the orthodox doctrine “wrong” if they come from a strong starting point of seeing Scripture as the absolute Word of God. For those absolutely devoted to the Bible (before denomination or creed), it is not easy to find the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity therein. Great scholars have shown how it is alluded to, pointed to, hinted at. Some texts are used to prove—or at least suggest—the Trinity. But Sarah Jane and many others before and after her have preferred to only use the terms of Scripture that describe the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. They have avoided the extrapolations of more complex doctrines. By such an emphasis, they have been deemed to fall short of orthodoxy.
It is hard to tell non-creedal Protestants that they need to also listen to church councils, creeds, and confessions, and to trust the church’s theologians over the centuries. This can seem like a backflip to some. They are hesitant to accept something they cannot find easily in the Bible itself.
Sarah Jane’s views on the Trinity should not be seen as a salvation issue that disqualifies her from the faith. Sarah Jane loved God and his Son Jesus Christ. She had faith in the redeeming work of Christ on the cross. She sought to follow God and the teachings of Jesus in her personal life. She—beyond dispute—showed the fruit of the Holy Spirit in her daily life.31 She believed in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
Surely one can be a Christian even if one has a less-than-perfect understanding of the inter-relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, or cannot explain it without error. I am yet to meet anyone who has that perfect understanding. Instead, we define a Christian as someone who has faith in God, faith in Jesus Christ his Son, and who seeks to live their life accordingly.
Like every Christian denomination, there are different emphases and peculiarities about Sarah Jane’s work. These can be acknowledged and accepted, even if one disagrees with aspects of her emphasis. The Pentecostals have theirs, but so do the Baptists, the Anglicans, the Presbyterians, the Catholics . . . .
Conclusion and Relevance for Today
Returning to the question of what qualifies someone to be given the title of “the first female minister of a Christian church in Australia,” it is regrettable that the logic of the argument outlined above has not yet led to any official or broad acceptance of Sarah Jane Lancaster being that person. The strong implication (intentional or unintentional) is that official ordination is the key criterion. This is a blinkered reaction, it seems: not putting two and two together. Not seeing inherent problems with such a starting point and not seeing the bigger picture.
Winifred Kiek can still be said to be the first woman to have earned the requisite credentials and to be officially ordained by an established denomination in Australia. And her wonderful life and work should be remembered, respected, and celebrated. It has been, still is, and hopefully always will be, an inspiration to other women. Nevertheless, Sarah Jane Lancaster was the first Australian woman minister of a Christian church in the country. It is time for the history books and reference material to catch up. They need to be more nuanced in how they describe the early women pioneers of the Australian church.
Historical studies and reflection can sometimes be accused of irrelevance. Some make comments like, “That’s all very well and good, but what’s your point? How does that mean anything for me today?”
In reply: there are still plenty of Sarah Jane Lancasters and Winifred Kieks in our churches today. We can determine to support and encourage such women, we can be inspired by their stories, and we can seek to advance the place of women in the church today.
Consider the blinkered approach that resulted in people not noticing Sarah Jane and her role in the church. There is still a lot of “blinker wearing” today. Sarah Jane was running a church for years. She was ministering for decades. Many simply ignored her, and those who could not ignore her dismissed her as in error or out of order. Many ministering women today are still treated that way by some churches and by some Christians.
Winifred Kiek was different from Sarah Jane Lancaster. She was not venturing out on her own to start a new work, a new branch of the Christian faith. Winifred was ordained in the late 1920s by the Congregationalists, an established denomination. She was surrounded by men, was in a denomination run by men, and was accountable to men in that wider sense. Her husband was quite liberated and supportive, but Winifred was much more “acceptable” because of the reality that she was under the guidance and input of a structure run by men.
It is not uncommon to still hear different Christians say something like, “Well, a woman can be in charge so long as a man is ultimately in charge—so long as she is under male headship—so long as she is accountable to male leadership over her somewhere.” Winifred was much more acceptable than Sarah Jane because she was conforming to a slightly expanded set of parameters that still meant some man somewhere could direct her as needed.
Many church women today are in one or the other of the two situations captured by Sarah Jane and Winifred.
It is worth adding that many women doing ministry that is either unrecognised or that is “under the final authority of a man” want to get on with their calling and ministry. They put up with the rest of it. They are not usually after titles or recognition. The Sarah Janes of today put up with it and get on with the work they are called to do. Likewise, the Winifreds.
The stories of Sarah Jane Lancaster and Winifred Kiek remind us to press on to live fully in our redeemed state, and to aspire to achieve full equality of all on all levels. Their stories should inspire us to continue to work to see more women released into ministry and leadership in the church. Roles in the church should always be based on gifting and calling, never on gender.
1. Janet West, Daughters of Freedom (Albatross, 1997) 24.
2. https://womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE3708b.htm. The Australian Women’s Register is a collaboration betweenThe University of Melbourneand The National Foundation for Australian Women. It has an entry for Sarah Jane Lancaster that simply links to The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in 20th Century Australia. The encyclopedia never calls Sarah Jane the first woman minister in the country, but it does admit: “In 1908 Lancaster founded Australia’s first Pentecostalist church, based at the Good News Hall, an old temperance hall which she had purchased in North Melbourne.”
3. Walter Phillips, Australian Dictionary of Biography. Kiek, Winifred (1884–1975), vol. 9 (Australian National University, 1983), https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kiek-winifred-7099; Carolyn Collins and Roy Eccleston, Trailblazers: 100 Inspiring South Australian Women (Wakefield, 2019) 149.
4. If I was to give my opinion as to which of the two women I would prefer to have as a friend with overlapping interests and theology, it would be Winifred. I would have admired Sarah Jane’s achievements and her incredible charity work (especially during the Great Depression), but I would have found her strong views on so many grey and questionable topics difficult to agree with.
5. “Her father . . . dabbled in ventriloquism. Winifred herself became a talented puppeteer.” Collins and Eccleston, Trailblazers, 149. Also: “She was much interested in puppetry, and for many years ran the ‘Good Companions’ troupe. It was a marionette show and she made all the puppets herself. They toured South Australia and raised money for charity, and entertained the Army during the war. She was in touch with the international puppetry organisation in Paris, lectured to the University Theatre Guild, and gave demonstrations and broadcasts.” Australian Church Women Inc., https://acw.org.au/post/getting-to-know-the-reverend-winifred-kiek.
6. West, Daughters of Freedom, 324.
7. West, Daughters of Freedom, 325.
8. Phillips, Australian Dictionary of Biography, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kiek-winifred-7099.
9. West, Daughters of Freedom, 325.
10. West, Daughters of Freedom, 236.
11. This photo is from Australian Church Women Inc., “Getting to know the Reverend Winifred Kiek,” https://acw.org.au/post/getting-to-know-the-reverend-winifred-kiek.
12. Phillips, Australian Dictionary of Biography, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kiek-winifred-7099.
13. Collins and Eccleston, Trailblazers, 149.
14. West, Daughters of Freedom, 326.
15. For a summary of her many achievements see the National Archives of Australian Church Women’s biography of Winifred Kiek at https://acw.org.au/post/getting-to-know-the-reverend-winifred-kiek.
16. Taken from Avril Hannah-Jones, Reflection for the 44th Anniversary of the Creation of the Uniting Church (June 19, 2021), https://revdocgeek.com/2021/06/19/3532/.
17. West, Daughters of Freedom, 327. It is surprising that Avril Hannah-Jones does not give the early Congregationalist female ministers much credit in advancing women’s rights and opportunities in the church. As a Uniting Church minister, Hannah-Jones sees Methodists, and then the Uniting Church, as doing more. Ironically, the Methodists did not ordain their first woman minister until 1969 despite seeming to be sympathetic toward the idea for some decades. Hannah-Jones comments: “Only eight women were ordained in the Congregational Union of Australia before 1960, and while their own communities appreciated and respected them, they suffered lower rates of pay and poorer working conditions than male clergy. They often had difficulty getting second placements. Nor were they necessarily helpful to the women who followed them. . . . Isabelle Merry was asked to work on a research project . . . with Coraline Ling [Methodist ordained]. . . . Merry refused on the grounds that Ling was a feminist,” https://revdocgeek.com/2021/06/19/3532/. This is unnecessarily critical of the early women Congregationalists who were at the start of a long and ongoing “fight.” To see them as not advancing the cause of women in the church because they suffered lower pay or because other congregations had difficulty accepting them is misplaced criticism. Was the first female engineer not actually helping the cause of women in that industry because she too received less pay than her male contemporaries? Or because some might not have hired her due to her sex? Any such pioneers will have numerous hurdles, and just because Merry did not like some aspects of other younger feminists, or was not as “far along the feminist path” as some others, does not mean she did not advance opportunities for women in the church.
18. For more on the life and achievements of Sarah Jane Lancaster, see Barry Chant, The Spirit of Pentecost: Origins and Development of the Pentecostal movement in Australia, 1870–1939 (Thesis, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia, 1999) chs. 6–7.
19. Around the same time, “A nine-member Council was set up for the Good News Pentecostal Alliance of which John Cavill was president, Winnie Andrews, secretary and Jeannie Lancaster, treasurer. Lancaster accepted the new arrangements with equanimity and grace.” In reality, as Chant continues, Sarah Jane was still the leader. Chant, Spirit of Pentecost, 231.
20. Chant, Spirit of Pentecost, 249–52.
21. This photo was provided to the author by Grace Cottrell (Sarah Jane’s granddaughter), on July 17, 2001, with permission to reproduce it in publications about Sarah Jane.
22. Interview held with Fred Lancaster by the author on Nov 17, 1999.
23. This remarkable portrait photo of Sarah Jane Lancaster is one of the few that have survived of this trailblazer. It was provided to the author by Grace Cottrell on July 17, 2001, with permission to reproduce. Its value is seen in a note by Chant: “No published photo of her appears in over 25 years of printing and distributing magazines, books, and tracts.” Chant, Spirit of Pentecost, 213.
24. For a discussion of Lancaster’s views on the Trinity, and other questionable views, see the relevant chapters in Chant, Spirit of Pentecost.
25. Good News, 1/5 (Jan 1913) 15.
26. Good News,1/5 (Jan 1913) 17.
27. Chant, Spirit of Pentecost, 234–35.
28. In Sept 1965, C. L. Greenwood spoke about his life story in seven recorded meetings. The recordings were transcribed into a typed document (the original of that document is in the possession of his granddaughter in Melbourne). That document, pg. 42, contains the above quotation.
29. See Jim Reiher, “Early AOG leaders in Victoria, A. C. Valdez and C. L. Greenwood, and Their Attitudes Towards Women in Leadership in the Church,” PCBC Journal (Aug 2001) 7–12. Greenwood, “was a great encourager of women in ministry, but not a believer or encourager of women holding governmental authority in the church” (Oct 29, 1999, interview with Phil Hills, who was in Greenwood’s church as a child). Greenwood did not think Sarah Jane was a legitimate Christian minister.
30. This paragraph is based on the interview I had with Fred on Nov 17, 1999.
31. Sarah Jane’s incredible capacity to show love and grace even to those who wrote and preached against her is inspirational in its Christlikeness. If one reads how the Good News Hall arranged for Aimee Semple McPherson to come to Australia and underwrote her expenses, and then how the McPherson team rejected Sarah Jane and the Good News Hall within weeks of arriving, and even preached against Lancaster from other pulpits—it is remarkable to see Sarah Jane’s response. She had no unkind word for McPherson or her team; she continued to pray for her success, and she thanked God for those finding faith through her. See Chant, Spirit of Pentecost, 243–47. Fred Lancaster gave an interesting opinion about what happened with the McPherson visit. In an interview (Nov 17, 1999) he noted that McPherson came out on Mother Lancaster’s invitation but did not stay with her more than a couple of weeks. “She was a very gracious and nice lady,” but McPherson’s mother (who administrated her financial dealings) did not like the Good News Hall and saw more support with the wider Evangelical Christian Movement. McPherson’s mother was not as gracious as McPherson herself. She was “harder,” Fred noted. He said that the Keswick Evangelicals put a deal to McPherson and her mother: if they did not preach Pentecost, then the evangelicals would support them with the widest base of church support they could muster. Fred was sure this appealed more to McPherson’s mother, so the visiting women cut themselves off from Good News Hall. McPherson did not then preach against Pentecostal truths (Fred said), she simply did not mention them. How accurate Fred’s memories are at this point might be debatable, but what is not in dispute is Sarah Jane’s humility and grace. She was eager to put others before herself, did not need the limelight, was loving and forgiving, and generally is a wonderful example of Christlikeness that modern-day ministers would do well to imitate.