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Published Date: June 26, 2014

Published Date: June 26, 2014

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Voices from Yesteryear

One of the earliest women to be ordained in America was Anna Howard Shaw. Even before her ordination, she served as pastor of a Methodist Church (now the East Dennis Community Church)  on Cape Cod. The following is excerpted from her description of her resignation.

During the weeks that followed my resignation I received many odd tributes, and of these one of the most amusing came from a young girl in the parish, who broke into loud protests when she heard that I was going away. To comfort her I predicted that she would now have a man minister – doubtless a very nice man. But the young person continued to sniffle disconsolately.

“I don’t want a man,” she wailed. “I don’t like to see men in pulpits. They look so awkward.” Her grief culminated in a final outburst. “They’re all arms and legs!” she sobbed.

One of Anna’s staunchest admirers in the church was a crusty old sea captain.

Captain Doane apparently shared my girl parishioner’s prejudice against men in the pulpit, for long afterward, on one of my visits to Cape Cod, he admitted that he now went to church very rarely.

“When I heard you preach,” he explained, “I gen’ally followed you through and I knowed where you was a-comin’ out. But these young fellers that come from the theological school – why, Sister Shaw, the Lord Himself don’t know where they’re comin’ out!”