GENDER AND PENTECOSTAL REVIVALISM: Making a Female Ministry in the Early Twentieth Century (Christianity and Renewal - Interdisciplinary Studies (CHARIS)). By Leah Payne. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. Xii +223 pages.
Carved into the mantle of the sitting room at the Disciples Divinity House at the University of Chicago are words of expectation that God would send “manly men” to the divinity house to prepare for ministry. The person who made that request was Edward Scribner Ames, one of the leading Modernist religious scholars of the day. That was a hope and expectation shared by the majority of church leaders in the period running from around 1890 into the 1920s. This was an age of change, and there was a growing concern that men were not being attracted to ministry because the work of ministry – pastoral care and home visitation – seemed too feminine. To make church acceptable to men and ministry to men as well, there was the need to stress the masculinity of the profession. One of the best known evangelists of the day, Billy Sunday, who was a former baseball player, made great use of his “manliness” in his preaching. As a result, even though the Victorian Age, with its picture of women as being dainty and in need of care, the age of the corset, was passing, women did not find many avenues into ministry, even among the most liberal bastions of Protestantism.
Among those who found a way to swim against the tide were Marie Woodworth-Etter, a founder of the Assemblies of God, and Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Both women were evangelists of note in their day. Both women had to find a way to utilize their gender in a way that allowed them to take a place in this male dominated world of ministry and evangelism.