Almost from the beginning of Methodism, women have found opportunities to lead and to exhort and eventually to preach. Although he did not initially endorse their preaching, John Wesley believed spreading the gospel often required exceptional practices, and he honored the gifts, call, and “holy boldness” of women, including Mary Bosanquet Fletcher, at least partly because of his mother Susanna’s example.
Read: In her journal, Mary wrote:
“… I am conscious how ridiculous I must appear in the eyes of many for so doing. Therefore, if some persons consider me an impudent woman, and represent me as such, I cannot blame them… Besides, I do nothing but what Mr. Wesley approves; and as to reproach thrown by some on me, what have I to do with it, but quietly go forward saying, I will be still more vile, if my Lord requires it.”
She also wrote:
“If I have a word to speak from [God], he will make my way. If not, the door will be shut. I am only to shew the meekness of wisdom, and leave all to God.“
Reflect: When have you been criticized for answering the call to ministry? How has God empowered you to “be still more vile” and to exercise “holy boldness?” Are you able to “leave all to God?”
Take Action: If you have not done so, examine the written record left by some of these “impudent” Methodist women. Consider keeping a journal to record your own experience as a woman in ministry. Encourage the girls and women where you serve by pointing towards these women whose bold witness are part of our Methodist DNA and share the stories of these extraordinary women of God.
Center for Leadership Excellence and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women
We are grateful to the Rev. Donna Fowler-Marchant for writing this month’s issue of Encouragements. If you are interested in contributing to a future issue of Encouragements, please email email@example.com.
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