Monday, August 20, 2007

Holistic Evangelism – Bible Women and Founder of Churches

Holistic Evangelism
The keen spiritual atmosphere of the 1890s, mixed with American interest in other parts of the world, and a sense of urgency to complete the task of evangelization, caused the formation of numerous independent evangelical missions.[1] The Holiness Movement is a predominantly North American Protestant religious Movement arising in the 19th century. It was characterized by an emphasis on the Wesleyan doctrine of sanctification and focused on the post conversion of “entire sanctification”. The Holiness Movement was centered in a deeply emotional and experiential faith.[2] In the mid of 19th century the members of Methodist Church in the United States felt that there was a declining in moral standards of their churches so this movement helped them to address these issues.[3]
The Holiness Movement was officially founded in the “National Camp Meeting Association for the promotion of Christian Holiness”, which met in Vineland, New Jersey, in July of 1867.[4] The Association which latter known as the National Holiness Association, reported that it had 200 full time ‘holiness evangelist’.
The Methodist lay preacher and advocate of women’s ordination Phoebe Palmer was a catalyst for the Holiness Mission, later known as the ‘mother of Holiness Movement’.[5] This movement spread through house meetings and characteristic of Holiness Movement was its support as one of the first churches to accept women in ministry.
The theology of Holiness Movement taught a modified form of John Wesley’s Arminian doctrine of grace, which emphasized a cooperation of the human and divine will in the Christian perfection. Most Holiness Missions began by the efforts of individuals or married partners who journeyed out on faith.[6] About 23 Holiness denominations arouse between 1893 and 1900.[7] Current denominations formed in this period were the Church of the Nazarene, the church of God, and the Pilgrim Holiness Church.[8] Women were most active in the Holiness Movement, which emerged within evangelical circles as the 19th century progressed. [9] The Holiness Movement claimed that God’s grace available not only for salvation but also was given to sanctify and perfect a Christian life.
The Holistic Evangelism was formulated by Phoebe Palmer who traveled as an evangelist throughout the United States, Great Britain and Canada, and it was under her influence Catherine Booth and Frances Willard were called to public ministries. Booth did as much as her husband, William, to establish the Salvation Army.[10] The Holistic Mission was at first nurtured within the mainline Protestant Churches, particularly the Methodist church. Gradually, however, separate Holiness denominations emerged, which were encouraged the women to participate in the ministry in the 19th and 20th century. The Church of Nazarene is the largest of the Holiness Churches which has a strong presence in North America and United Kingdom which guaranteed Women the right to preach in its constitution. [11]
In terms of mission theory, Holiness Missions were committed to world evangelization and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.[12] Martin Wells Knapp, a Methodist, and Seth Rees, a Quaker, in 1897 founded the International Holiness Union and Prayer League whose purpose was to hasten the completion of the Great Commission by sending out holiness evangelists to help to lead missionaries into the experience of sanctification.[13] Knapp and Rees believed that the key to world evangelization was God’s Pentecostal power. To have the power of the full Gospel for mission work, one must be sanctified to keep one’s sanctification; one must be committed to the salvation of others.[14]
When Knapp died in 1901, he left control of God’s Bible School and The Revivalist in the hands of three women: his second wife Minnie Ferle Knapp, Bessie Queen, and Mary Storey.[15] Another holiness woman who ran a Bible school, and funded and administered a missionary movement through her periodical The Vanguard, was Free Methodist Anna Abrams of St. Louis, Missouri.[16]
Bible Women
Aside from Knapp, Queen, Storey, and Abrams, the woman who had the biggest role in early holiness missions was Lettie Burd Cowman, co-founder with her husband of the Oriental Missionary Society, later converted to Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in Chicago.[17] Women exercised leadership in all aspects of the early Oriental Missionary Society. Lettie Cowman adopted a “Woman’s Work for Woman” perspective in her desire to improve life for East Asian women, arguing that women missionaries were necessary to evangelize women in Japan.[18] Throughout her career, Lettie Cowman promoted a missiology of world evangelization.
Through Bible School training she could train some women as Bible Women. The quality of Bible women varied considerably. [19] Some of these women, working on a bare subsistence wage, were employed to keep them alive when cast out by their families after conversion.[20] Others were extremely able and effective agents, high motivated and dedicated to their ministry. Much of their effectiveness of their work depended upon the ability of the missionaries to train, direct, and inspire them. Isabella Thoburn and Laura Haygood were taken as a typical example of missionaries engaged in this work. The number of Bible women expanding from 1820 to 1830 about 75 in United States, who were served as full time or pain itinerant preachers.[21]
Women as Founder of Churches
Public female ministry in the 19th and 20th century in Britain and United States can be divided into 3 rough chronological divisions: 1. The period from 1790 to 1840, when women operated as itinerant evangelists with a degree of denominational approval. 2. The 1840 to 1860, when female Preaching was fragmented and incoherent, and 3. The period from 1870to 1920, when women began to achieve a greater measure of lay and clergy rights within a wider range of denomination.[22]
Lettie Cowman was the most prominent American female founder of an independent Holiness Mission.[23] Independent holiness women also founded and directed missions that affiliated with such holiness denominations as the Church of the Nazarene and the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana).
One important example of women’s leadership “on the ground” was the work of holiness women in Swaziland, the earliest mission of the Church of Nazarene.[24] Lula Glatzel and Etta Innis, joined mission in Natal, South Africa, later becomes the founder of churches in Swaziland in 1910.[25] Living in rural Swaziland under great hardship Lula Glatzel and Innis opened two mission stations that they named Peniel and Grace Station. Etta Innis worked and lived there at Grace Station, acting as evangelist and pastor.[26] Innis believed that the education of the children was a route to the Christian life, and so she opened both a Sunday school and a day school. She had a strong emphasis on holistic work with women and children. On the other hand Lula Glatzel stated her mission from the women’s perspective arguing that the “woman of dark Africa is born a slave and a chattel.”[27] She attempted to involve herself to help girls, sold as infants, escapes from forced marriage and also provided medical facilities to the women.[28]
Another woman in other holiness missions in Africa took an active interest in the social condition of women as well. In 1927, Twyla Ludwig[29] took her family to Kenya under the Church of God, raising money herself for passage and salary. Ludwig was working as an evangelist and conducted a crusade against female circumcision, wife beatings and taboos against women under Kima mission. Her goal was to establish “Christian homes where the children would be raised in cleanliness and decency,” and so she taught home economies, including sewing and potter making, so that would earn money for themselves. Though the Church of God refused her to participate actively in the public ministry, so she moved to Nairobi mission and worked under Africa Inland Mission.
The holistic mission with its individualistic and positive view of sanctification legitimated a wide variety of roles for women in the 19th and 20th century.

The female ministries in the 19th and 20th century were the emergence of evangelical missions which gave importance on both religious and personal conversion and adopted a pragmatic approach to church growth. Methodism, the most significant outgrowth of the evangelical revival gave women positive roles in those days. But at the same time male dominated western Protestantism resisted women’s desire to exercise public ministry. It sought to limit and restrict their roles and to deny them access to full rights church members, believing not only those roles would contradict Scriptures but also those women’s rights seize denominational control for themselves. Yet, the women who sought these roles consistently viewed their ministry in terms of service and argued that they desired ministries position only because they wished to serve God and God’s people better with a concept of public ministry that was based more on serventhood with rank and authority. With this ambition the women started their ministry with persistence, determinism and faith in God and in the later days they could achieve their goals. This is a challenge to all the women to involve them in the Church ministry.



Beaver, Pierce R., All Loves Excelling. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968.
· Gilley Sheridan & Brian Stanley, (Etal), The Cambridge History of Christianity World Christianities: c1815-1914c. UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
· Hillerbrand, Hans J., (Ed), The Encyclopedia Of Protestantism. Vol. 2. New York: Rutledge, 2004.
MacHaffie,Barbara J., Her Story. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986.
· Robert, Dana J., American Women in Mission: A Social History of their Thoughts and Practice. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1998
· Schmelzenbach, Lula, The Missionary Prospector: A Life Story of Harmon Schmelzenbach, Missionary to South Africa. Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1937.

[1] Dana J.Robert, American Women in Mission: A Social History of their Thoughts and Practice (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1998), 231.
[2] Hans J. Hillerbrand, (Ed), The Encyclopedia Of Protestantism Vol. 2 (New York: Rutledge, 2004), 877.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Barbara J. MacHaffie, Her Story (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), 109
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Dana J. Robert, op.cit., 232
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid.
[18] R. Pierce Beaver, All Loves Excelling (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968), 115-120
[19] Ibid., 120.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Sheridan Gilley & Brian Stanley, (Etal)., The Cambridge History of Christianity World Christianities:c1815-1914c (UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 85
[22] Ibid.
[23] Dana J. Robert, op.cit., 237
[24] Ibid.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Lula Schmelzenbach, The Missionary Prospector: A Life Story of Harmon Schmelzenbach, Missionary to South Africa (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1937), 94.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Dana J. Robert, op.cit., 238-238.

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