Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Work of Women

On June 4, 1908, the bicentennial theme was The Work of Women in the Church featuring addresses by T.S. Moherman and Adaline Hohf Beery.

Moherman references Sarah Major and then lists the following women given the right to preach in more modern times: Mattie Lear of Illinois, Cassie Beery VanDyke of Chicago, and Bertha Miller Neher of Milford, Indiana. He summarizes his address with this paragraph:

We can find no happier point than this to sum up the work of our sisterhood for the church the past two hundred years, setting the pace for her younger sisters the coming centuries. May we not say that she has abhorred evil more, loved righteousness more, journeyed more amid perils, suffered more, prayed more, and wept more for Jesus and humanity than her big stronger brothers of the faith.

Beery notes two synonyms in addressing The Work of Women in the Church. She notes the Church is a bride ... pledging herself to undying loyalty and loving service to the Lord, her Betrothed. And then the Church is a mother. She gathers all her family around her knee, and instructs them in the virtues of her house.

Beery adds: The highest, and the humblest, position in the Church is that of minister. Highest, because he is the mouthpiece of God; humblest because he is servant of all. The ministry includes teaching; and teacher is of common gender. When the assembled church breaks into little circles for Bible study, in the center of each circle you will find, more than often, a woman teaching. I do not know whether it has ever been explained why men minister mostly in the pulpit, and women in the Sunday School, but the fact is patent to all....

... Woman usually has a genius for pastoral work. She is naturally inclined to visiting, more than man, and with a few words she gets hold of the situation, and her intuition tells her the rest. With a cheary leaflet, a pretty print, or a bunch of garden poisies, she soon wins the confidence of the entire family....

Beery concluded her address with these thoughts: "...And so we come around again to our opening remark, that this is a discussion of synonyms. Wherever there is work, there are women; and most women are scarcely on speaking terms with anything else. And the Church is a mother, with her hands exceedingly full. And since there are more women than men in the Church, it makes more work for both women and preacher, to rend the garments of self-complacency and expose the bare souls of the men to the keen thrust of the Spirit's sword.

The prayers and presence of the women keep the Church stanch. There may be other pillars, but the women are stones in the basement all. Therefore, we have the following equation: Work plus women plus the Church equal a splendid upheaval of righteousness in the forbidding Sahara of universal sin.

Source: Two Centuries of the Church of the Brethren, Chapter 9