Historic Role of Women in Various Baptist Branches

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Jeff Weaver, Nov 1, 2001.

  1. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
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    Hi folks.

    I am starting this thread to get some input, hopefully, about the historic role of women in various Baptist groups. I hope it will be a place for historic information rather than theological debate. That is/has been covered in other places.

    For example, hopefully someone can summarize the roots of the WMU, Baptist role in the WCTU, etc.; women's roles in other Baptist traditions.

    I have no axe to grind, but ask out of terminal curiosity. [​IMG]

    Jeff.
     
  2. ellis

    ellis
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    There are scattered records among various Baptist associations and groups in America prior to the civil war where women were involved as deacons, and in some cases as pastors or leaders of churches. Most Baptists approach these isolated instances as matters "out of necessity", that is to say that they served in cases where there were a limited number of qualified men involved.

    Among Northern Baptists, women have held leadership roles in churches for a long time. There are churches in the Northern Baptist tradition (now ABC-USA) who have had deaconesses since the Civil War and women have been prominent in the foreign mission society for quite a while. Ordination, as a matter of course, has been practiced among the churches of the ABC-USA since World War II (in pastoral ministries).

    Among African-American Baptists, for the most part, women have been equals to men in ministry almost since they have existed as a body. It is not uncommon to find women as chairmen of deacons, or even in pastoral roles, in some African American Baptist churches.

    In my own church, women have been serving as deacons since the first one was ordained in 1951. We have not yet had a woman serve as pastor, but have had women associates in education, music and youth ministry, and have ordained all of these at the initation of the church.

    I think some Southern Baptists have been doing this for a while, since it seems like a lot of their churches have women as deacons even though in the current atmosphere in that convention it appears to be a no-no. I can name at least five SBC churches within a ten mile radius of my house that have deaconesses. They obviously recognized the role of women in ministry a long time ago, since 60 percent of their foreign mission force up until recently was female, and a number of single females have served on foreign fields.

    Dr. Leon McBeth's Baptist history text, and Dr. William Estep's books are excellent, well documented sources related to Baptist women serving in ministry capacity. They aren't promoting that position one way or another, but simply pointing out those who have served, where they have served and how they have been received.
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

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    Brother Weaver -
    I will be posting more on this topic but tonight, coincidentally, I am taking my wife to dinner. Just to get started on this post, however, here is the history of the WMU as appears on their web page:
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> When and where was WMU organized?

    During the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Richmond, Virginia, in May of 1888, a group of women delegates from 12 states gathered at the Broad Street United Methodist Church and organized the Executive Committee of the Woman’s Mission Societies, Auxiliary to Southern Baptist Convention. A constitution was adopted and officers were elected. Baltimore, Maryland, was chosen as headquarters. Prior to this time, women had been gathering to pray for missions under the leadership of women such as Ann Baker Graves. In 1871, Baptist women in Baltimore founded Woman’s Mission to Woman for the purpose of prayer and dissemination of information about missionaries. Maryland Baptist women began publishing and distributing missions literature in 1887. Although many southern states had a missions organization for women, there was no central body to provide unity or coordinate efforts. The time had come for the women to organize and the founding mothers of WMU established an organization that has been supporting Baptist missions for over a century. In 1890 the women adopted the name Woman’s Missionary Union, Auxiliary to Southern Baptist Convention. In 1921 the national headquarters was moved to Birmingham, Alabama.


    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    I will do a little searching and fill you in on some particulars at a later posting.

    May God bless all of you

    - Clint
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Hello gentlemen -
    This is the statement I wanted to share with you concerning the local WMU here at my church. I found this document in the closet in which all of our historical documents were stored. It was written in 1974 with no author cited. I will be publishing the whole document as a link from the historian page on the church website, but I did want to share the opening paragraph so that you can see the job description our ladies assigned themselves.
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> The Preamble to the Constitution of the Fork Union Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union states: “The Woman’s Missionary Society of the Fork Union Baptist Church of Albemarle Association is an organization composed of women of the church or community over twenty years of age. The Society’s purpose is to enlist and direct the religious energies of all the women of the church into definite lines of church work. It is an organized part of the church, and seeks in all of its activities to advance the causes for which the church stands and to aid the pastor in his numerous labors Hence, it seeks every opportunity to be helpful in all neighborly ministries; to visit the sick, to help the needy, to console the sorrowing and the lonely, to welcome visitors, to extend acquaintances, and in all other helpful ways to make the church life profitable and happy."
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Once I have finished the web page, I will post a link here for you.
    I hope to be posting more soon.

    May God bless you

    - Clint

    [ November 04, 2001: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  5. Jeff Weaver

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    Bro. Clint

    Thanks for the info on the WMU.

    Here is a link to the Autobiographical sketches of Joanna P. Moore of the WOMEN'S BAPTIST HOME MISSION SOCIETY.
    http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/moore/moore.html

    Hope it is interesting to you.

    Jeff
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

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    Gentlemen -

    Call me slow but call me steady, here is the webpage taken from the local history of the WMU chapter at Fork Union Baptist Church.History of the WMU of Fork Union
    Hope you enjoy this and see what an active role these ladies have played in our church as well as in our community.

    May God bless all of you

    - Clint
     
  7. VASHTI

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ellis:
    There are scattered records among various Baptist associations and groups in America prior to the civil war where women were involved as deacons, and in some cases as pastors or leaders of churches. Most Baptists approach these isolated instances as matters "out of necessity", that is to say that they served in cases where there were a limited number of qualified men involved.

    Among Northern Baptists, women have held leadership roles in churches for a long time. There are churches in the Northern Baptist tradition (now ABC-USA) who have had deaconesses since the Civil War and women have been prominent in the foreign mission society for quite a while. Ordination, as a matter of course, has been practiced among the churches of the ABC-USA since World War II (in pastoral ministries).

    Among African-American Baptists, for the most part, women have been equals to men in ministry almost since they have existed as a body. It is not uncommon to find women as chairmen of deacons, or even in pastoral roles, in some African American Baptist churches.

    In my own church, women have been serving as deacons since the first one was ordained in 1951. We have not yet had a woman serve as pastor, but have had women associates in education, music and youth ministry, and have ordained all of these at the initation of the church.

    I think some Southern Baptists have been doing this for a while, since it seems like a lot of their churches have women as deacons even though in the current atmosphere in that convention it appears to be a no-no. I can name at least five SBC churches within a ten mile radius of my house that have deaconesses. They obviously recognized the role of women in ministry a long time ago, since 60 percent of their foreign mission force up until recently was female, and a number of single females have served on foreign fields.

    Dr. Leon McBeth's Baptist history text, and Dr. William Estep's books are excellent, well documented sources related to Baptist women serving in ministry capacity. They aren't promoting that position one way or another, but simply pointing out those who have served, where they have served and how they have been received.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I AM EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED WITH THE CURRENT HISTORY OF A LOCAL INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCH. WOMEN CAN'T BE DEACONS (WE DON'T NEED AN "ESS" ENDING, THANK YOU VERY MUCH). HOWEVER PHOEBE IN THE N.T. WAS A DEACON.
    AS A WOMAN I CANNOT BE A PASTOR (ELDER) NOR A DEACON NOR TEACH ADULT MEN IN SUNDAY SCHOOL IF I WAS GOING TO TEACH HERESY BY ACCIDENT OR ON PURPOSE, WHO AM I MORE LIKELY TO MISLEAD? AN ADULT MALE? A CHILD? OTHER WOMEN?
    LET'S SUPPOSE SOME OF YOU MAY THINK THIS IS ACCEPTABLE AND BIBLICAL SO FAR. WHERE IS THERE A VERSE AGAINST USING TRULY INCLUSIVE NOUNS AND PRONOUNS FOR PEOPLE IN SERMONS, WHEN NOT QUOTING SCRIPTURE DIRECTLY AND/OR BY READING FROM ONE OF THE INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE BIBLES- NRSV, CEV, NIRV, NIVI? WHICH IS CLEARER - CHRIST DIED FOR ALL MEN? OR FOR ALL HUMANS? FOR ALL MEN AND WOMEN? OR JUST FOR ALL?
    WHY USE THE WORD MANKIND INSTEAD OF HUMANKIND OR HUMANITY? BE HUMANE- ALL THINGS TO ALL HUMANS.CAN ONE JUSTIFY THE FOLLOWING?
    I'M NOT AS A WOMAN ALLOWED TO PRAY ALOUD IN THE PRESENCE OF MEN, SUCH AS AT WED. NIGHT PRAYER MEETING. PRAY BEFORE PASSING THE COLLECTION PLATE-NO. PASS THE PLATE, BUT HAVE A MAN PRAY- NO.AND THEY WONDER WHY I MAKE FEMINIST STATMENTS. NOBODY EVEN WANTS TO SAY TO ME, IF THEY ARE SMART, ANYTHING ABOUT CHRISTIANS GIVING UP THEIR RIGHTS. WOMEN HAVE SO FEW OF THEM. JESUS CHRIST DID MORE TO ELEVATE WOMEN
    THAN THOSE IN NONCHRISTIAN RELIGIONS, BUT TOO MANY OF HIS FOLLOWERS WANT TO KEEP US IN OUR (LIMITED) PLACE. WHEN AND WHERE DO WE GET OUR BURQUAS?
    WE DON'T HAVE COOPERATIVE BAPTIST CHURCHES (CBE) HERE- FIDDLESTICKS.THIS INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCH IS TOO SMALL FOR A WOMEN'S PRAYER GROUP. THEY ARE TOO SHY AND TOO CONVINCED OF THEIR OWN INFERIORITY TO WANT TO PRAY IN FRONT OF OTHERS, EXCEPT AT HOME WITH THEIR HUSBANDS (DADDIES?). I GIVE THE PASTOR CREDIT FOR HAVING A SENSE OF HUMOR, FOR CHANGING TO PRACTCING OPEN COMMUNION, FOR LEADING A CULT MEMBER FRIEND OF MINE TO CHRIST, FOR PREACHING THE GOSPEL FREQUENTLY AND WELL.

    I RECENTLY VISITED A SOUTHERN BAPTIST CHURCH TWICE. THIS WAS NOT AS BAD, BUT STILL UNDETILZIN THEIR WOMEN. HOWEVER A METHODIST CHURCH WITH A FEMALE PASTOR WHO ENCOURAGES LAYPEOPLE LOOKS PRETTY GOOD TO ME, EVEN THOUGH I DON'T LIKE THEIR (NON-IMMERSION) BAPTISMS, BUT SHE ISN'T A BAPTISMAL REGENERATIONIST.WE TALKED ON THE PHONE FOR 2 HOURS AND I AM HAPPY TO BE GOING THERE THIS THURSDAY EVENING AS I SEARCH FOR A NEW CHURCH HOME.I AM 57 AND TIRED OF WAITING FOR THE SHAMEFUL CHURCHES TO CATCH UP WITH THE WORLD. MY SPIRITUAL GIFTS DON'T RELATE TO WORKING IN THE NURSERY. I DECIDED TO PICK UP THE LITTER IN THE INNER CITY BAPTIST CHURCH PARKNG LOT. I BABYSIT ONLY BECAUSE THEY PAY AND I NEED IT. IF WE ARE TO BRING FOOD I BRING FRUIT JUICE AND PAPER CUPS. IF I WANTED TO DO HOME EC.I'D HAVE MARRIED A MAN OF THE 1950'S TYPE PERSONALITY. I STAYED SINGLE TO AVOID DOMESTIC WORK AND TROUBLE WITH PEOPLE'S INTERPRETATIONS OF VERSES ABOUT WIVES. I HAVE PEACE UNDER MY ROOF. "BETTER A DRY CRUST OF BREAD THAN FEASTING WITH STRIFE."I DON'T MEAN TO IMPLY THAT YOU MEN ARE LIKE THE MEN WHERE I HAVE BEEN GOING TO CHURCH. IN FACT I THNK I RECOGNIZE CLINT'S NAME FROM ELSEWHERE AND KNOW HE IS THE ANTITHESIS OF MOST OF THE ABOVE.

    LET ME RECOMMEND, IN REFERENCE TO ONE OF THE OTHER CHAT BOARD QUESTIONS, THAT PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEW BABIES PROTECT THEM AND ALL PEOPLE AROUND THEM BY NOT PASSING OUT CIGARS!
     
  8. rlvaughn

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    Hi, Vashti. Welcome to the Baptist Board. I see you are new here. Please remember to drop by the "Welcome to the Baptist Board" Forum and introduce yourself to everyone.
     
  9. Clint Kritzer

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    Vashti -

    Welcome to the Baptist board! In keeping with Mr. Weaver's initial posting on this thread, I will not open a discussion of the theology of women's roles in the church, but you read correctly that I have a great respect for women and I feel that Christ also showed the highest regard for them. If you go to a lower thread on this same forum called "on the banks of the river", I gave a summary of the roles of women in the New Testament. I will say that as far as deacons go, I believe the word is synonymous with "servant". Some churches have a "board" of deacons in which the board has power within the church. In my church, the deacons have authority, but no power. They are set up for aiding the pastor in his ministry and the spiritual guidance of the church. The buck still stops with the congregation, however, and the deacons are defeatable in our business meetings.
    If you do wish to debate female authority within a church, I would recommend the "general Baptist" forum, but I will warn you, you will find some intense feelings on both side of the issue.

    Also, it was me offering "cyber" cigars. No babies will be harmed by those, I am sure.

    Again, welcome and may God bless you.

    - Clint
     
  10. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    Vashti,

    I agree with you completely!
     
  11. TomVols

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    Vashti,
    Welcome aboard! I appreciate your no-tobacco stance, but I'd be interested in hearing your NT support for women as deacons. I am well aware that the same NT word for deacon is used to describe Phoebe. But the same word describes Paul (not a deacon), Jesus (not a deacon), and government (certainly not a deacon). If anything, the NT support for the female deacon would be found in 1 Timothy 3:11, although context seems to mitigate against such an interpretation. However, I won't go so far as to say that churches with women deacons are lost or doomed. Some solidly conservative Baptist churches have women deacons.
     

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