Women preachers’ place in a divided Methodism
in Women and the shaping of British Methodism
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This chapter argues that the political climate of the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath was the prime reason for the timidity and conservatism of Methodist leadership after Wesley's death. In the first half of the nineteenth century Methodism fractured into a number of sects, some ephemeral, others lasting into the early twentieth century and beyond. The chapter analyzes how and why this fragmentation occurred, and describes and suggests reasons for the sects' varying attitudes toward female evangelism. In particular, it suggests reasons why the New Connexion, whose strength was in a region where female preaching was common, did not officially allow women to speak in public, while the Primitive Methodists and Bible Christians allowed them to do so throughout the sects' independent existence. It also shows the significant role of gender in the brief histories of two ephemeral sects, the Tent Methodists and the Arminian Methodists. The final section describes the conditions favouring female preaching in the Primitive Methodist and Bible Christian Connexions, and evaluates their leaders' arguments for the acceptance of female preaching.

Women and the shaping of British Methodism

Persistent preachers, 1807–1907


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