We celebrate the centennial of Women’s Suffrage and all the ones who pressed for suffrage for all people.
For more information about the people who led in the fight for women’s suffrage, read The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Shiphrah and Puah are among the greatest heroes of our faith. They defied the order of the Pharaoh to kill the Hebrew babies as they were born.
We celebrate, in this week and next, the centennial of Women’s Suffrage in the United States. The story of Shiphrah and Puah, deep in the Old Testament, is remarkably convergent with the story of suffrage, emerging out of a deep, complex, painful history of partnership and then dissolving partnership of fractured relationships and the healing of relationships.
Next week, on Wednesday, a statue will be unveiled in Central Park. It’s remarkable – three women depicted around a table strategizing toward the vote for women. Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote, “I never forget that we are sowing winter wheat which the coming spring will see sprout and hands other than ours will reap and enjoy.”
A hundred years ago today. in Tennessee, there was a possibility that the state of Tennessee would take ratification of the Suffrage Amendment over the top. A woman named Phoebe Burn sent her son a note. Harry Burn was a young legislator and had vacillated on his support of suffrage for women. He took the note out of his breast pocket and read it. His mother directed him to be a good boy and to vote for votes for women. He did so and when his “aye” was heard in response to his name being called, there was such an uproar in the chamber that he had to escape through a window.
The word suffrage is a bit archaic; we rarely use it anymore. It has two meanings, to vote and to pray, and our spiritual lives and our life engaged in community are intertwined in strong and amazing ways.
We United Methodists, through our Social Principles and through our Book of Resolutions, are urged to be educated and to vote. We’re also urged to make sure that all people, all citizens in our country have access to ballots.
Whenever I enter a voting booth or when I mail my ballot, I pause to give thanks for those who went before, who “planted winter wheat” and I remember God’s calling upon my own life to be a planter of winter wheat also.
Let us this week remember Shiphrah and Puah and let us remember those women and like-minded men who pressed for suffrage for all people.