Summary: This was in response to a question about 1 Timothy 2 and the Wesleyan Churches stand on women in ministry
Her name was Antoinette Brown and she would become a part of history.
Antoinette was a committed abolitionist, a campaigner for temperance, and an advocate for women’s rights.
Miss Brown was a popular lecturer at reform conventions nationwide and she also pastored a Congregational church in South Butler, New York. But none of those things were what put her in the history books.
The Congregational church had granted her a limited ministerial license, but she wished to be ordained.
To nobody’s surprise her request stirred things up, and while her local church was ready to ordain her, none of her Congregationalist colleagues would officiate or preach the ordination sermon.
So, she turned to Luther Lee, who she had met and worked with in the fight against slavery.
Despite the fact that he belonged to a different denomination, she asked Lee to preach at her ordination. And so, on September 15, 1853, a Wesleyan Methodist minister, preached the ordination sermon for the first American woman to be ordained in any denomination. Wikipedia describes Lee as a socially radical Methodist minister, but he was, in fact, one of ours.
It would be 8 years before another woman would be ordained in the United States. In the summer of 1861 Mary Will was ordained by the Illinois Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Making her the second woman to be ordained in the United States.
One of her parishioner’s wrote, “We think it can no longer be said that a church cannot be well governed by a woman. There never was a mother who watched over an infant with greater interest than Sister Will has over this church.”
Now, if you ask Google who the first woman was who was ordained in Canada, it will spit out the name and story of Lydia Emelie Gruchy who was ordained at St. Andrew's United Church in Moose Jaw, on November 4, 1936.
And that just goes to prove Abraham Lincoln’s point when he said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”
Because in 1901, when Grucy was only 7 years old and the United Church didn’t even exist, Ella Kinney Sanders was ordained in Saint John, NB, by the Reformed Baptist Alliance of Canada.
Rev. Sanders served along with her husband Herbert as one our first missionaries and later became a travelling evangelist.
In 1922, Ida Kierstead was ordained at the Reformed Baptist Church in Royalton New Brunswick.
And in 1933, Grace Titlestad, Ella and Herbert’s daughter was ordained while pastoring the Reformed Baptist church in Woods Harbour NS.
In 1966 the Reformed Baptist would merge with the Wesleyan Methodist Church which became the Wesleyan Church in 1968, and here we are today.
So, if you are keeping track, the first two women in the United States and the first three women in Canada were ordained by what is now the Wesleyan Church.
This week we continue with our summer series: Asking for a Friend. Over the past five weeks we’ve been attempting to answer some questions that were asked online.
So far, I have taken a stab at: How can a loving God send someone to Hell? Why did Jesus turn the water to wine and not grape juice or sparkling cider? And last week; In a world that is so hostile to God and the church is it a good idea to talk to others about faith?
And Pastor Rob did a most excellent job with; How do we study God's word? Is It more than just reading the Bible? How can I get the most out of my time in God's word and develop a passion for the Word instead of felling required to spend time in the Word?
Our question this week is: What role do women have in the Church? 1 Timothy 2:11-14 really limits a women's role. However, many women have been gifted to teach. Can they really only teach women, or is this a cultural context?
Now, I want to be clear here. This is an issue that not everybody agrees on. If you are sitting there with your arms crossed, on the outside or on the inside thinking, “Go ahead preacher, but you’ll never convince me.” That’s fine. My purpose today isn’t to convert anybody to my way of thinking. My purpose today is to let you know why the Wesleyan Church in general and Cornerstone in particular believes what we believe on women in ministry. At Cornerstone two of our staff are ordained women, they not only are Pastor Marilyn and Pastor Deborah. They are Reverend Mansvelt and Reverend Gilbert.
And just to let you know that we are not an anomaly, if you were to attend Deep Water you would meet Reverend Swan, also known as Pastor Megan and at Hillside there is Reverend Guptill, also known as Pastor Sharon.