Philanthropists, volunteers, fund-raisers, and local preachers
in Women and the shaping of British Methodism
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This chapter addresses the essential contributions of women to their Methodist societies as ‘purveyors of hospitality, visitors, class members, and leaders’. It begins with some exceptional female evangelicals, not all Methodists, who stepped outside their domestic environments to engage in philanthropy, founding missions to working men, rescuing prostitutes, organizing mothers' meetings, campaigning for temperance, and recruiting and training Biblewomen. Most Methodist women did not engage in these activities, especially in rural areas, but did sick-visiting, distributed pamphlets, led classes, played the harmonium or sang in choirs. The chapter describes and evaluates the growing opportunity for women as Sunday school teachers, and show how women were important fund-raisers, as missionary fund collectors, bazaar organizers, and tea organizers. The last part of the chapter returns to female evangelism. Female preaching did not die in the 1840s; Primitive Methodists and Bible Christians relied on female local preachers to fill their plans, and female evangelists who preached outside their circuits at special services could be relied on to attract larger than usual congregations and swell the size of the collections. By the mid-century there were women who had developed careers as fund-raisers and revivalists within Methodist circuits.

Women and the shaping of British Methodism

Persistent preachers, 1807–1907

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