John Wesley promoted the ministry of women in early Methodism. Amazing women like Phoebe Palmer, Catherine Booth, and Frances Willard--founding figures in the holiness movement, the Salvation Army, and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union--claimed biblical precedent for their groundbreaking ministries. They withstood the onslaught of criticism and hostility from those who thought they had stepped out of their proper sphere. Methodists have championed the cause of women and developed biblical, spiritual, and practical arguments for their ministry for two and a half centuries. More than fifty documents from the history of Methodism chronicle the tortuous journey leading to biblical equality in this family of churches.
At a time when the ministry of women is under serious attack in a number of quarters, yet again, we all have much to learn from the witness of Wesleyan Christians who argued for women's ministry. This story illustrates how faithful women, when they knew they had the Lord's approval, stood "like the beaten anvil to the stroke."
Courage. Defiance. Perseverance. Faithfulness. These qualities define the Methodist defense of women in ministry.