Abingdon Women's Preaching Annual 2003, Series 3 Year B [Secure eReader]
Click on image to enlarge.
eBook by Beverly Zink-Sawyer
eBook Category: Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: Using an abbreviated lectionary-based format, this sermon anthology features reflections on the Scripture text, a complete sermon brief, and suggestions for worship which include calls to worship, litanies, prayers, and benedictions. Key Features: * A collection of lectionary sermon brief and worship ideas * Written by women * Offers practical assistance in the task of sermon preparation. Key Benefits: * Readers will be assisted as they explore the ways women fulfill the preaching function in the church * Seminarians and women exploring the preaching function will be assisted in anticipating nuances of preaching in congregations * Readers will find useful practical insight and guidance in sermon preparation.
eBook Publisher: United Methodist Publishing House/Abingdon Press
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2004
For the past year, I have had the privilege of "living with" three extraordinary women of the nineteenth century. Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Olympia Brown, and Anna Howard Shaw were three of the first women ordained to the ministry of Word and sacrament by Protestant denominations in nineteenth-century America. Their lives and work are the focus of a sabbatical project in which I am presently engaged. These three women are remarkable in many ways, not least being the determined way in which they pursued their God-given calls to ordained ministry at a time when the idea of women in ministry was, at best, controversial and, at worst, unthinkable.
By the mid-nineteenth century, however, women's participation in a number of ecclesiastical roles had become commonplace. Women prayed, taught, testified, and even preached in "promiscuous" (i.e., comprised of men and women) religious gatherings. They were trained as religious educators and missionaries and sent to serve communities across the United States and across the world. They founded hospitals, schools, and reform organizations, all with the goal of serving God by serving those whom society had abandoned. With so many doors of the church opening to the gifts and service of women, it was inevitable by the second half of the nineteenth century that the ultimate church door, the door to ordained pastoral ministry, would open to them as well.
Brown Blackwell, Brown, and Shaw are unique in being among the first women ordained in America, but they stand in a long line of women preachers who preceded and have followed them. Indeed, preaching women have a long, proud tradition in the Christian church. It is often noted that women were the first preachers commissioned by Jesus, sent to the disciples indeed, the whole world with the command to "go, tell" what they had seen and heard on Easter morning. From that day on, women have been bold in their proclamation of faith despite the obstacles often placed in their paths. They found a way, with the grace and presence of God, to preach the good news of Jesus Christ even when there appeared to be no way. They organized house churches and founded convents; they wrote theological treatises and liturgical music and spiritual autobiographies; they taught, evangelized, and cared for people in all conditions and places. Most of all, these faithful female servants of God bore witness that the good news cannot be silenced; its messengers cannot be stilled. The Word of God always finds a way to be heard thanks to the Spirit and the spirit: the Spirit of God whose Word and work cannot be thwarted, and the indomitable spirit of women of faith who witness to the power of God's good news.
With this first volume in the third series of the Abingdon Women's Preaching Annual, we continue to celebrate the proud tradition of preaching women who proclaim the gospel and serve the church. In the pages that follow, I am delighted to share with the larger church the gifts of wonderful women preachers I have come to know in my own communities of faith and scholarship here in Virginia, across the country, and even across the world. Among them are women who represent twentieth-century "firsts" for women in the church, including the first woman ordained in Ireland, several women who were the first women to serve as pastors of particular congregations, and others who were among the first women to serve as senior pastors of churches in their denominations. Like the nineteenth-century clergywomen I am studying, these contemporary women do not regard themselves as unique in any way. They are simply being faithful to God's call to them, and good stewards of the gifts for ministry that God has given them.
Today is the day that the church has set aside to remember the martyrdom of some of the earliest women preachers. Perpetua, a young mother and woman of noble birth, her maid Felicitas, and three of their companions were put to death in Carthage on the seventh of March, 203, for defying a Roman order to cease from proclaiming the Christian faith. Their words and witness remain many centuries later as testimony to the power of the gospel to endure ridicule, obstacles, and even death, for the Word of God always finds a way to be heard even when there appears to be no way. And so all of us who proclaim the gospel today women and men alike must stand in gratitude and awe of those like Perpetua and Felicitas, Antoinette, Olympia, and Anna, and all the faithful servants who have gone before us and followed the call of God.
Beverly A. Zink-Sawyer
March 7, 2001
Feast of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas
Copyright © 2002 by Abingdon Press