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Why Aren’t There More Female Pentecostal Pastors?

by Cecil M. Robeck Jr. Originally published here, reposted with permission.

The modern Pentecostal movement is a child of the radical wing of the Holiness movement, which championed the doctrine of sanctification as a second, definite work of grace. The Holiness movement was very active in works of social justice, including but not limited to various compassionate ministries, interracial work, temperance, and women’s suffrage. Especially from 1850 onward, it produced a number of women who ministered as evangelists, Bible study leaders, and even a bishop. Mrs. Alma White had been a popular Methodist preacher who participated in the Metropolitan Church Association, one of many such Holiness associations. Ultimately, Alma left both groups and founded the Pillar of Fire Church. She was consecrated a bishop by the Holiness evangelist William Godbey.

With this kind of backdrop to the Pentecostal movement in the United States, it would seem likely that women would play a significant role. And so they did. Charles Fox Parham trained women for ministry in his Apostolic Faith Movement from 1900 onward. His sister-in-law, Lilian Thistlewaite, held meetings of her own throughout the midwest and appeared alongside Parham in extended meetings elsewhere. Parham commissioned a number of women to establish church plants and serve as pastors.

The African American preacher William Joseph Seymour brought the Apostolic Faith Movement to Los Angeles in 1906. His Azusa Street Mission quickly became known as an interracial congregation led by an African American pastor, with capable women and men providing leadership and outreach. The Mission was even ridiculed on the front page of the Los Angeles Evening News, July 23, 1906, for violating Paul’s command in 1 Corinthians 14:34 regarding the silence of women. Continue reading Why Aren’t There More Female Pentecostal Pastors?