A response to the prominent Methodist historian David Hempton's call to analyse women's experience within Methodism, this book deals with British Methodist women preachers over the entire nineteenth century, with special emphasis on the Primitive Methodists and Bible Christians. The book covers women preachers in Wesley's lifetime, the reason why some Methodist sects allowed women to preach and others did not, and the experience of Bible Christian and Primitive Methodist female evangelists before 1850. It also describes the many other ways in which women supported their chapel communities. The second half of the book includes the careers of mid-century women revivalists, the opportunities, home and foreign missions offered for female evangelism, the emergence of deaconess evangelists and Sisters of the People in late century, and the brief revival of female itinerancy among the Bible Christians.
participate in services in other ways. Hymn singing had been central to Methodist worship from the beginning; Methodists claimed that their Connexion had been ‘born in song.’72 Wilson found that hymns were important to Primitive Methodist women’s private spirituality, but music also allowed them to step into the intermediate sphere of the chapel community.73 As congregations built chapels, music remained central to worship, but often with the addition of choirs, organs, or harmoniums. Many women sang in choirs, sometimes taking solo parts, and some accompanied the singing
personally in that individual’s life, allowed women autonomy in their spiritual lives. In particular, Methodist organization provided women with almost unprecedented opportunities for leadership in their chapel communities, emboldening some to speak in public. Yet while evangelicalism encouraged women to claim autonomy, it also taught submission to God’s will, promoting an environment in which women claimed the right to preach but until the end of the century very 270 LLoyd_03_chap 5-8.indd 270 17/09/2009 10:05 women deaconesses in missions and itinerancy at home