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British Association for American Studies


Issue 16, Spring 2010: Article 3


Issue 16, Spring 2010: Article 3

U.S. Studies Online: The BAAS Postgraduate Journal

‘Anti-scriptural, anti-domestic, and revolutionary’: Female Preachers and Gender in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1864-1888

George Scratcherd

© George Scratcherd. All Rights Reserved.

After the Civil War in which so much, for so many, was pinned to the Divine, the religious landscape of America was shattered. Amidst this turmoil the black churches underwent significant reshaping, propelled by emancipation. African-Americans left biracial churches in great numbers and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, already the largest black Methodist denomination, was one of the greatest beneficiaries of this exodus. By 1903 W.E.B. Du Bois would write that the A.M.E. Church was ‘the greatest Negro organization in the world’.[1] These transformations provided fertile ground for a reassessment of the roles women were to play in the A.M.E. Church, and between 1864 and 1888 female preaching, women’s participation in church hierarchy and gender roles within the A.M.E. Church were all negotiated and debated. Traditions of women’s preaching, social and geographical necessity and nascent arguments of gender equality drove women’s attempts to take up more active and positive roles in church organisation and preaching. These were pitted against entrenched associations of masculinity with the pulpit, and of femininity with the domestic sphere. Yet even as church hierarchies adapted to these impulses, so the case for female participation grew stronger and challenged those hierarchies still further. Once the A.M.E. Church began some limited expansions of women’s place in the church hierarchy, women’s participation in the church reinforced its usefulness and added momentum to the case for female preaching and ordination.

The possibilities for women in the A.M.E. Church in this period were shaped by several key decisions by the church’s General Conference. The first in 1868 created the position of stewardesses, lay assistants in each church ostensibly equivalent to male stewards and the first position open to women in the church’s hierarchy. The second in 1884 sanctioned the licensing of women as lay preachers—a practice which had existed informally on a small scale since the church’s very beginnings. However, ordination remained closed to women, a decision reaffirmed by the General Conference of 1888. Debates took place at national and regional A.M.E. Conferences and in the pages of the church’s journals and newspapers as to the appropriate limits of women in the church. Voices supporting the ordination of women were few, but did exist. Many more sought to curtail women. Yet some came to realise the value of women as stewardesses and supported their further advancement in the church hierarchy. Henry McNeal Turner, a black political leader and later an A.M.E. bishop, reported in 1873 that ‘I have found the stewardesses worth more than all the male officers put together’.[2] Women themselves were the principal architects of the advances sanctioned by the General Conference through their persistent pressure to be licensed to preach and through their effectiveness as unofficial preachers and stewardesses.

Women took up roles as stewardesses in the wake of a dramatic influx of church members in the south as emancipation saw great numbers leave the Southern Methodist Episcopal Church to join the black Methodist churches. While some did so as early as 1863, this movement gained greater momentum after the end of the war and the completion of emancipation. Prior to the war, the A.M.E. Church had very little presence in the south and the 1864 General Conference authorised the establishment of a presence there by the formation of the South Carolina Conference of the A.M.E. Church.[3] Missionaries such as James Lynch, Henry McNeal Turner and Daniel A. Payne led the work of establishing A.M.E. congregations, especially in Georgia and South Carolina. By March 1867, the South Carolina Conference reported ‘not less than 48,000 or 50,000 members in the whole’.[4] This enormous influx of members in the South persisted, and required a significant organisational effort. Not only did this offer significant opportunities to women but required their service, which they provided in great numbers, principally as stewardesses.

Broadly speaking, the historiography of female preaching in general and in black churches in particular has focussed on the period after the symbolic end of Reconstruction in 1877 and especially after the establishment of Jim Crow. This period saw significant developments in women’s roles in various denominations. In 1880 Anna Howard Shaw was ordained as the first female Methodist minister in the United States.[5] In 1889 Louisa Woosley became the first Presbyterian woman to be ordained and Ella Niswonger was ordained in the United Brethren Church.[6] Among the black churches the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Zion was the first to ordain a woman, Julia A. Foote, in 1894. Mary J. Small followed soon after in 1895, and in 1898 she became the first female elder of the A.M.E. Zion Church. The A.M.E. Church was much slower to introduce full ordination of women, which was only allowed in 1948. However, they too significantly advanced women’s roles in this period creating the position of deaconess as a lay equivalent of the ordained male deacons in 1900.[7] In the black Baptist church Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham has demonstrated the roles women forged for themselves through women’s conventions, especially the national Women’s Convention formed in 1900, and through feminist theology.[8] Such developments have overshadowed the history of women’s religious activity in Reconstruction period, despite it being a seminal juncture in the development of the black churches.

In the case of the A.M.E. Church this period was doubly important since, as Jualynne Dodson put it, ‘A.M.E. preaching women were the cutting edge of women’s activities’.[9] Dodson’s work in particular has illustrated the influence and power which women forged for themselves. However, the existing literature on women in the A.M.E. Church does not fully address the connections between women’s progress within the hierarchy of the church and the dramatic changes wrought by emancipation, especially in the South. Works on the black churches and the A.M.E. during Reconstruction, such as those by Clarence E. Walker and William E. Montgomery, have underemphasised women. Julius H. Bailey has also studied the complexities of masculinity, femininity and womanhood in the A.M.E Church through an examination of domesticity. A stronger understanding of the association between this domestic ideology and women’s formal roles in the church is also required in order to understand how these roles were reconciled with traditional conceptions of womanhood.

The role of women was debated at church conferences at both the national and state level and in the pages of the church’s newspaper, The Christian Recorder, and from 1881 in The A.M.E. Church Review. Perceptions of womanhood and domesticity in the A.M.E. Church are also manifest in the columns of The Christian Recorder and in Daniel Payne’s Treatise on Domestic Education of 1885. The roles women played in the A.M.E. Church and their relation to broader developments in the church were also discussed in several works by leading A.M.E. clergymen, including Payne and C.S. Smith’s histories of the church, Alexander Wayman’s Cyclopædia of African Methodism, Henry McNeal Turner’s The Genius and Theory of Methodist Polity and W.J. Gaines’s African Methodism in the South. Finally, a more particular insight into female preachers may be garnered via the contemporary biographies of the two most prominent of the time, Amanda Berry Smith and Harriet A. Baker, as well as Smith’s own autobiography and Baker’s surviving sermons.

Women in the A.M.E. Church were ‘the cutting edge’ of women’s religious life during the Reconstruction period and it is essential to understand their role. It shaped—and was shaped—by the nature of womanhood and domesticity. It was a product of the great changes in the church wrought by emancipation but it was also an essential factor in shaping those changes. Women in the A.M.E. Church paved the way for the great progress women would make in the A.M.E. Church and other black churches for decades to come.

In 1844 Nathan Ward and forty signatories unsuccessfully petitioned the General Conference of the A.M.E. Church ‘to admit females to receive a license to preach in the connexion’.[10] Four years later the Daughters of Zion submitted a similar petition ‘to grant their license in all respects as men are licensed, and so to graduate up to the highest office in the church’. They were at one point granted permission to preach, but ultimately, after spirited debate, did not receive licenses from the Conference.[11] In 1850 the Philadelphia Conference discussed ‘Whether it should be tolerated for women to form a Connection, and appoint their preachers to stations in the several districts?’ after a group of women had done so.[12] According to Payne these women ‘held together for a brief period, and then fell to pieces like a rope of sand’.[13] At the next General Conference in 1852 the question of licensing women to preach was raised again by Bishop William Paul Quinn and Rev. Thomas Lawrence, but was defeated by a large majority.[14] The issue was not raised at the General Conference again until 1864, when Henry Davis thrice raised the question only for it to be postponed and ignored.[15] It was not until 1868 that the question finally achieved a position for women in the church’s hierarchy with the creation of boards of stewardesses.[16]

These repeated petitions formed part of a larger tradition of female ambition, vocation, participation and preaching in the A.M.E. Church as old as the church itself. Many women had informally preached without licenses throughout the antebellum period. They served as both exhorters (who led local prayer meetings) and evangelists (who proselytized outside their own community). The most renowned antebellum A.M.E. female preacher was Jarena Lee. In 1809, prior to the organisation of the A.M.E. Church, Richard Allen, founder of the A.M.E. Church and then a deacon in the Methodist Episcopal Church, permitted Lee to preach without a license. She was not granted a formal license after the organisation of the church in 1817, but Allen verbally authorised her to act as an exhorter and she continued to preach in Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey. Other women were also active preachers in the antebellum church. Joseph Thompson’s Bethel Gleanings describes one Philadelphia preacher, Sophie Murray as ‘the first evangelist of Bethel’, and another, Elizabeth Cole, as ‘holding many glorious prayer meetings’.[17] Doritha Hill led female prayer meetings in Baltimore and Mary Prout ‘was a leader of a female prayer meeting’ in Maryland in the early years of the church. Wealthy Dorsey acted in a similar capacity in Philadelphia.[18] Harriet Felson Taylor was described as the ‘First Female Exhorter and Local Preacher’ of Washington’s Union Bethel Church and Rachel Evans of New Jersey was ‘a preacheress of no ordinary ability. She could rouse a congregation at any time’.[19] Pricilla Baltimore of St. Louis ‘was not only the assigned itinerant minister but single-handedly laid foundations for African Methodism in this area of the Mississippi River Valley’.[20] The tradition of unlicensed female preaching also extended to other Methodists outside the A.M.E. Church, with Sojourner Truth and Zilpha Elaw being the most significant.

Jarena Lee’s autobiographical Journal offers some insight into the motivations of female preachers and the female preaching tradition of the A.M.E. Church. She described her profound spiritual conversion experience ‘as if I were in an ocean of light and bliss’, and her subsequent vocation to preach:

[T]he same voice seemed to say—“Preach the Gospel; I will put words in your mouth, and will turn your enemies to become your friends”… the Lord had revealed it to me, that [I] must preach the gospel.[21]

This account of divine inspiration to preach presaged the similar account of Amanda Berry Smith, the most renowned postbellum female A.M.E. preacher. She likewise described a Divinely-inspired conversion and vocation:

I seemed to go into a kind of trance or vision, and I saw on the foot of my bed a most beautiful angel… Then, it seemed, I went to a great Camp Meeting and there seemed to be thousands of people, and I was to preach… O, how I preached, and the people were slain right and left… I thought God had spared me for a purpose, so I meant to be converted.[22]

Harriet A. Baker likewise described her conversion experience in her 1892 biography. While she stood at a prayer meeting while others kneeled to pray, ‘The power of God struck me down… [He] taught me by his spirit to read his holy Word, and not only to read it, but to understand it also’.[23] These particular accounts of Divine inspiration may be principally a product of the tropes of nineteenth-century religious autobiography. However, it is clear that female preachers justified themselves by a genuine and profound conviction that preaching was their spiritual calling. Their call to preach was a vindication of the seriousness of female spirituality and a manifestation of Divine will. Some prominent A.M.E. women adopted strong proto-feminist positions, particularly those involved in education, like Hallie Quinn Brown who would become dean of the Women’s Department of Wilberforce University.[24] However, it seems that those preachers who recorded their calls to preaching claimed spiritual rather than feminist inspiration.

The tradition of unlicensed female preaching continued after the Civil War. The most prominent preachers were Amanda Berry Smith and Harriet A. Baker. Smith evangelised extensively at camp meetings in the north-eastern states, especially in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania between 1871 and 1878. J.M. Thorburn noted in his introduction to her autobiography, ‘I have never known anyone who could draw and hold so large an audience as Mrs. Smith’.[25] Baker similarly won great renown through evangelising at camp meetings and revivals between 1874 and 1889. She had won the sanction of the A.M.E. Church as a preacher after leading a revival at the white Evangelical church of Brownstown Pennsylvania, where she converted seventy-two people.[26] She went on to become a pastor when the Philadelphia Conference appointed her ‘to take charge of the St. Paul’s Church on Tenth Street, in the city of Lebanon, Pa’ in 1889.[27] Other women also continued the preaching tradition prior to the 1884 General Conference. Margaret Wilson preached in New Jersey from 1870 as did Emily Calkins Stevens from 1882, and Lena Doolin-Mason of Hannibal, Missouri, ‘preached in nearly every state in the Union’.[28]

The continuing preaching activities of women challenged the masculine hierarchy of the church. Unlicensed female preaching, alongside the growth of the church in the south, provoked debates regarding women’s place in the church and its sanctioned hierarchy, and regarding the nature of Godly womanhood. In the first instance, female preaching and persistent petitioning for a place in the church hierarchy prompted the creation of the boards of stewardesses. A board of stewardesses for a church consisted of three to nine women ‘who assist the stewards, class-leaders, and pastor in managing the spiritual, and sometimes the temporal affairs of the church… They are especially charged with looking after the females of the church’.[29] Stewardesses were lay assistants, ostensibly similar to the existing position of steward. Prior to their creation in 1868, many had doubted the prudence of allowing women any official position in the church. In 1852, an editorial in The Christian Recorder asked

Must the Church, that needs the most manly strength, the most gigantic minds to execute her labors, confide them to those whom nature has fitted for the easier toils of life? Shall the labors of a Paul, a Silas, a Peter, a Luther, a Calvin, a Wesley, be trusted to the weaker sex?[30]

Rev. Elisha Weaver echoed these sentiments in a speech in 1858. He criticized women ‘pressing into the empire which belongs exclusively to man’ in defiance of ‘the gentle and attractive grace of their sex’. He argued that man’s superior faculties ‘entitle him to absolute rule’.[31] The introduction of stewardesses provoked resistance in some churches especially from stewards and other existing male officers. Henry McNeal Tuner reported that one steward

‘objected to the whole thing and desired to let such a law as that remain a dead letter on the statute book. But I told him, that if he could not stand the stewardesses, he must go out of the board and let me put in such officer as could… The next day some of my leaders and local preachers, having heard of what had transpired… were disposed to be troublesome. I gave them to understand that… if they could not work in harness, because I had made a few stewardesses, they had better vacate their positions at once’.[32]

Similarly The Christian Recorder reported in October 1873 that

In some of our Churches in this vicinity, the Stewardesses, appointed in regular order, have been, and are, subjected to much unchristian treatment at the hands of those, of whom better things were expected—we mean some of the officers whose tenure of office is in no way superior to that of the Stewardesses.[33]

Clearly the introduction of stewardesses was provocative and controversial. Male lay officers were threatened by the potential influence stewardesses could wield, and their status was undermined by the apparent inclusion of women alongside the stewards in the church hierarchy.

However, in reality the influence of the stewardesses was severely curtailed and they were certainly not the equals of the stewards. The hesitancy with which women were introduced into the offices of the church was reflected in the limitations placed on them. The boards of stewardesses were introduced at the minimum possible cost to the influence of existing lay officers, and their creation may have been designed to curtail and contain the pressure for the licensing of female preaching within the structure of the church. In the absence of the requisite minimum of three suitable women men could serve as stand-in stewardesses. Furthermore all appointments of stewardesses had to be ‘confirmed by the Board of Stewards only in a regular stewards’ meeting’.[34] They were neither members of the Official Board of the church nor did they attend the Quarterly Conference.[35] They had ‘no legislative or judicial discretion, but are merely assistants’.[36]

Despite these limitations, the stewardesses proved their worth and won many plaudits. Henry McNeal Turner wrote that among those who had initially resisted the introduction of stewardesses ‘I heard some of the same individuals say, that it was the best thing the General Conferences did’, while he himself ‘found the stewardesses worth more than all the male officers put together’.[37] In 1888 Reverend Theodore Gould of the Philadelphia Conference wrote to The Christian Recorder with ‘An Important Query—Why should not the stewardesses be members… of the Quarterly Conferences?’ They had proved their worth, ‘and no class of officers in the Church should be appreciated more highly than the stewardess… the female members are as capable and as willing to work for the cause of Christ and humanity as are the male’. Gould identified the reason as prejudice, ‘Simply because they are women’, and for him the question was one of justice; ‘The time has now come when the sisters of our great Church must be protected in their rights’.[38] Women’s service as stewardess earned them recognition as valuable contributors to the church and swayed the debate over women’s roles.

The debate over the licensing of women as preachers in 1884 was also divisive. George C. Sampson presented a resolution to the General Conference in May 1884 acknowledging the existing unofficial licensing of female preachers:

Whereas, Female evangelists are becoming very numerous and, as they are not amenable to anyone, Resolved, that those sisters that have, and who shall receive licenses from the hand of any of our ministers in the future, shall be subject to the same requirements as local preachers, and they shall be amenable to the Quarterly Conference of the church of which they are members, subject to all the requirements of a local preacher.[39]

This resolution was adopted and for the first time it officially sanctioned the licensing of women. Simultaneously it sought to regulate all existing and future licensees bringing them within the jurisdiction of the Quarterly Conferences. However, as with the introduction of stewardesses sixteen years earlier, the new role opened to women was viewed with suspicion. Another resolution at the same Conference introduced by W.D. Cook sought to limit the new role for women, much as the role of stewardess had been constrained:

Whereas, we have in our Church some female ministers who have been holding pastoral charges much to the detriment of the Church; therefore be it Resolved, That they are hereby prohibited from assignment to a special charge, and simply labor as evangelists.[40]

Some women had already been appointed pastors, most notably Sarah Ann Hughes at Fayetteville Station and then Charlotte Mission in North Carolina, and Margaret Wilson at Haleyville Mission in New Jersey.[41] This resolution sought to put an end to the practice. Dr. James H.A. Johnson spoke in favour of the resolution arguing that were the resolution not to pass, ‘it would sap the foundation of the Church and corrupt its very purity’.[42] He argued that women had no right to preach from the pulpit and that the appropriate sphere for women had been circumscribed by God. Finally he invoked St. Paul’s directive to ‘Let your women keep silence in the churches’.[43] Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Jackson concurred that scripture proscribed women’s public work in the church, and another supporter of the resolution, Rev. G.W. Bryant, said, ‘I vote in favor of their staying home and taking care of the babies’.[44] The resolution was adopted by a vote of 65 to 11. Interestingly, the report of the Conference notes that ‘There were quite a number of female preachers in attendance while this question was being discussed’, including Sarah Ann Hughes and Margaret Wilson, but it does not describe their reactions to these arguments.[45] However, one of those in attendance, Lucy Cooper, wrote to The Christian Recorder and in a lengthy letter rebutted Rev. Dr. Jackson with ‘biblical proof that women have high and holy callings as well as men’, citing the Acts 2: ‘I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy’.[46] She also emphasised that ‘in the African Methodist Episcopal Church women are its principal support’.[47] Henry McNeal Turner, often a visible advocate of women in the church, also supported the licensing of female preachers. He wrote that ‘Women ought to be utilized in any way suitable to their condition and circumstances’.[48] He also disagreed with the view that Scripture precluded women from preaching but he did not agree with Lucy Cooper that women were entitled by Scripture to assume higher ministerial offices.[50]

Nevertheless in 1885, he sparked new debates over whether the licensing of women to preach should be followed by the ordination of women as deacons. On 29 November, 1885 he ordained Sarah Ann Hughes as a deacon.[51] The question of the ordination of women was discussed in several articles in The Christian Recorder and The A.M.E. Church Review between then and the 1888 General Conference. The debate paralleled similar debates in other denominations. The Southern Methodist Episcopal Church created the office of deaconess, not ordained, and similar in function to the stewardesses of the A.M.E. Church. In 1889, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church ordained Louisa Woolsey and in 1891 she published Shall Woman Preach, a treatise on the question of the ordination of women. The question was addressed in The Christian Recorder in February 1886 by Mrs. Alice S. Felts who wrote in strong support of Bishop Turner. She argued that ‘two-thirds of the present church membership are women’ and that principles of religious equality mandated that offices of the church be filled by women on an equal footing with men.[52] An article in The Christian Recorder in June also examined the question of the ordination of women on the basis of Dr. Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible. It quoted him thus: ‘There is, however much more than is implied in the Christian ministry, of which men only, and men called of God are capable’. On this authority, the article argued, ‘Christian women are put below the level of the Christian ministry’.[53] Similar disputes were to be found in The A.M.E. Church Review and most of its articles were hostile to Turner.[54] However, Bishop John M. Brown supported the ordination of women and called for women to be ordained as deaconesses and as presbyters.[55] Ultimately the matter was decided at the General Conference of 1888 which resolved:

Whereas, Bishop H.M. Turner has seen fit to ordain a woman to the order of a deacon; and Whereas said act is contrary to the usage of our Church, and without a precedent in any other body of Christians in the known world, and as it cannot be proved by the Scriptures that a woman has ever been ordained to the order of the ministry;

Therefore be it enacted, That the bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church be and are hereby forbidden to ordain a woman to the order of deacon or elder in our Church.[56]

The church had firmly established a ban on female ordination. Nevertheless, women continued to preach under the licenses permitted at the 1884 General Convention. Lena Doolin-Mason’s continued preaching activity supposedly led to the conversion of 1617 people in Minneapolis.[57] Harriet A. Baker became the pastor of St. Paul’s Church in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Mary C. Palmer, Melinda M. Cotton, Emma V. Johnson and Mary L. Harris, all continued to preach under the auspices of the Philadelphia Conference as did Margaret Wilson in the New Jersey Conference.[58]

The debates over the licensing of women to preach and the ordination of women as deaconesses were far more fierce and divisive than those over the creation of boards of stewardesses. They focussed more on Scripture and the offices held by women in the early church. In part this was due to the influence female preachers, deaconesses and ministers would wield over the church as a whole. Despite some initial concerns, stewardesses actually wielded little influence over individual churches, never mind Quarterly Conferences or the church as a whole. Once the boards became established concern over stewardesses disappeared as they filled traditional female roles as carers and domestics within the church hierarchy, and did not disturb the social order of the church. Female preachers, by contrast, assaulted the traditionally-conceived male monopoly on preaching, questioned the masculinity of the pulpit and wielded significant influence throughout the church.

Only a small minority of the women who held offices in the church and participated in its public work did so as preachers. By far the vast majority of female participation in the A.M.E. Church during the Reconstruction period was as stewardesses, particularly in the South. By 1887 the church had 14,190 stewardesses.[59] However, Jualynne Dodson has argued that ‘The church’s establishment of boards of stewardesses did nothing to alter the containment of women’.[60] Certainly Dodson is correct that boards of stewardesses were subordinated to male authority, especially that of the stewards and, as mere assistants, were stripped of all genuine power and authority. It is wrong to assume, however, that this meant that the introduction of stewardesses placated, compromised or diverted the efforts of female preachers to be licensed and ordained by the A.M.E. Church. Unlicensed female preachers continued preaching as they had done prior to the introduction of stewardesses. Nor were those who became stewardesses also preachers in any great proportion. How could they have been, given how numerous they were? In fact the boards of stewardesses allowed a much greater breadth of female participation in the A.M.E. Church than the rarefied world of the unlicensed or even the licensed female preacher. Women whose aspirations could never have stretched to preaching could nonetheless actively participate and take on responsibilities within their church and community. Henry McNeal Turner described the character of a stewardess: ‘They should be highly pious women of irreproachable reputations, and of sufficient age and standing in the community to guarantee respectability’.[61] Stewardesses had high standards to live up to, but the institution of the stewardess allowed women to take on that challenge en masse and it seems from the generally favourable reports of the stewardess system that they met it. Rev. Theodore Gould believed that ‘no class of officers in the church should be appreciated more highly than the stewardess’.[62] They illustrated the capability of women within the church hierarchy and strengthened the case for the licensing and ordination of female preachers. The stewardess system also widened the pool of talent from which female preachers could emerge. In the long term the boards of stewardesses also provided the basis from which women could be made deaconesses once deaconesses were introduced in 1900.

Boards of stewardesses did not hinder the cause of women or of female preaching in the A.M.E. Church. They may not have been the preaching licenses that women hoped for in 1868, but nevertheless they were a significant advance for women in the A.M.E. Church. They were also of great importance to the A.M.E. Church in the postbellum South as it won great numbers of adherents and faced the organisational challenges of emancipation. However, ultimately a constraining domestic ideology won out over women’s efforts to demonstrate their value as workers for the Church. By 1888 the leaders of the church remained persuaded by Daniel Alexander Payne’s assessment of female preaching in 1848, that it was ‘antiscriptural, anti-domestic, and revolutionary’.[63]

University of Oxford


[1] W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (Chicago, 1903), p. 197.

[2] H.M. Turner, ‘How the Stewardesses System Operates in the A.M.E. Church’, The Christian Recorder (15 May, 1873), p. 1.

[3] ‘Report of the General Conference’, The Christian Recorder (21 May, 1864), p. 2; W.J. Gaines, African Methodism in the South; or, Twenty-Five Years of Freedom (Atlanta, GA, 1890), p. 6.

[4] Gaines, African Methodism in the South, p. 13. At this point the South Carolina Conference embraced North and South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

[5] A.D. Gordon, ‘Shaw, Anna Howard’, American National Biography Online [] (Accessed 01 March, 2010).

[6] The Cumberland Presbyterian, (22 July, 1952), p. 4; (26 August, 1952), p. 15 [] (Accessed 01 March, 2010); ‘Ella Niswonger, 1865-1944’ [] (Accessed 01 March, 2010).

[7] C.E. Lincoln and L.H. Mamiya, The Black Church in the African-American Experience (Durham, NC, 1990), pp. 285-6.

[8] E.B. Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920 (Cambridge, MA, 1993), pp. 12, 120-1; E.B. Higginbotham, ‘The Feminist Theology of the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1900’, in A. Swerdlow and H. Lessinger (eds.), Class, Race and Sex: The Dynamics of Control (Boston, 1983) pp. 31-59.

[9] J. Dodson, ‘Nineteenth-Century A.M.E. Preaching Women’, in H.F. Thomas and R. Skinner Keller (eds.), Women in New Worlds: Historical Perspectives on the Wesleyan Tradition (Nashville, TN, 1981), p. 277.

[10] C.S. Smith, A History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (Philadelphia, 1922), p. 415.

[11] D.A. Payne, History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (Nashville, TN, 1891), p. 301.

[12] Ibid., p. 237.

[13] Ibid., p. 237.

[14] J.A. Handy, Scraps of African Methodist Episcopal History (Philadelphia, 1902), pp. 189-90.

[15] Smith, A History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church , pp. 477, 487.

[16] Ibid., p. 81.

[17] J. Thompson, Bethel Gleanings (Philadelphia, 1881), pp. 34-7.

[18] J. Dodson, Engendering Church: Women, Power, and the A.M.E. Church (Lanham, MD, 2002), p. 75.

[19] Dodson, ‘Nineteenth-Century A.M.E. Preaching Women’, p. 279; A.W. Wayman, Cyclopædia of African Methodism (Baltimore, 1882), p. 57.

[20] Dodson, Engendering Church, p. 31.

[21] J. Lee, Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee (Philadelphia, 1849), pp. 10-11.

[22] A.B. Smith, An Autobiography: The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith the Colored Evangelist (Chicago, 1893), pp. 42-3.

[23] J.H. Acornley (ed.), The Colored Lady Evangelist: Being the Life, Labors and Experiences, of Mrs. Harriet Baker (Brooklyn, 1892), pp. 31-3.

[24] Dodson, Engendering Church, pp. 72-3.

[25] Smith, An Autobiography, p. vi.

[26] Acornley (ed.), The Colored Lady Evangelist, p. 41.

[27] Ibid. p. 46.

[28] Dodson, ‘Nineteenth-Century A.M.E. Preaching Women’, pp. 284-5.

[29] H.M. Turner, The Genius and Theory of Methodist Polity, or the Machinery of Methodism. Practically Illustrated through a Series of Questions and Answers (Philadelphia, 1885), p. 165-6.

[30] Payne, History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, p. 301.

[31] E. Weaver, ‘Woman—Her True Sphere’, Repository of Religion and Literature and of Science and Art 1, No. 2 (1858), pp. 58-61.

[32] Turner, ‘How the Stewardesses System Operates in the A.M.E. Church’, p. 1.

[33] ‘Our Swivel’, The Christian Recorder (23 October, 1873), p. 4.

[34] Turner, The Genius and Theory of Methodist Polity, p. 166.

[35] Ibid., p. 167.

[36] Ibid., p. 166.

[37] Turner, ‘How the Stewardesses System Operates in the A.M.E. Church’, p. 1.

[38] T. Gould, ‘An Important Query—Why should not the stewardesses be members and also of the Quarterly Conferences?’, The Christian Recorder (5 April, 1888), p. 2.

[39] Journal of the 18th Session and 17th Quadrennial Session of The General Conference of The African Methodist Episcopal Church in The World (Philadelphia, 1884), p. 253.

[40] Ibid., p. 256.

[41] S.W. Angell, ‘The Controversy over Women’s Ministry in the African Methodist Episcopal Church During the 1880s: The Case of Sarah Ann Hughes’, in J. Weisenfeld and R. Newman (eds.), This Far by Faith: Readings in African-American Women’s Religious Biography (New York, 1996), pp. 96-9.

[42] ‘The General Conference—Report of the two last days’, The Christian Recorder (5 June, 1884), p. 2.

[43] 1 Cor. xiv.34.

[44] ‘The General Conference—Report of the two last days’, p. 2.

[45] Ibid., p. 2.

[46] L. Cooper, ‘Woman’s Sphere in the Church’, The Christian Recorder (19 June, 1884), p. 1; Acts ii.17.

[47] Cooper, ‘Woman’s Sphere in the Church’, p. 1.

[48] Turner, The Genius and Theory of Methodist Polity, p. 169.

[49] Ibid., p. 99.

[50] Ibid., pp. 100-1.

[51] A.S. Felts, ‘Women in the Church’, The Christian Recorder (18 February, 1886), p. 1; Angell, ‘The Controversy over Women’s Ministry in the African Methodist Episcopal Church During the 1880s: The Case of Sarah Ann Hughes’, pp. 102-3.

[52] Felts, ‘Women in the Church’, p. 1.

[53] ‘Ordination of Women’, Christian Recorder (3 June, 1886).

[54] Dodson, ‘Nineteenth-Century A.M.E. Preaching Women’, p. 286, n. 31.

[55] J.M. Brown, ‘The ordination of women: What is the authority for it?’, The A.M.E. Church Review, 2 (April, 1886), pp. 359-61.

[56] Smith, A History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, p. 159.

[57] Dodson, ‘Nineteenth-Century A.M.E. Preaching Women’, p. 287.

[58] Ibid., p. 287; Angell, ‘The Controversy over Women’s Ministry in the African Methodist Episcopal Church During the 1880s: The Case of Sarah Ann Hughes’, pp. 95-6.

[59] Gaines, African Methodism in the South, pp. 193-4.

[60] Dodson, ‘Nineteenth-Century A.M.E. Preaching Women’, p. 282.

[61] Turner, The Genius and Theory of Methodist Polity, p. 166.

[62] Gould, ‘An Important Query – Why should not the stewardesses be members and also of the Quarterly Conferences?’, p. 2.

[63] C.E. Walker, A Rock in a Weary Land: The African Methodist Episcopal Church During the Civil War and Reconstruction (Baton Rouge, 1982), p. 26.