Friday, March 18, 2022

Recommended Reading: Deaconesses in Methodist History

As part of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW)'s celebration of Women's History Month and its own 50th anniversary, it has published an excellent historical overview of the office of deaconesses in the Methodist tradition, written by Rev. Emily Nelms Chastain. Interested readers looking to supplement Chastain's overview can also check out these biographies of significant early leaders of the deaconess movement in the United States: that of Lucy Rider Meyer, that of Dr. Jane Bancroft Robinson, and that of Belle Harris Bennett. These biographies come from the Methodist mission bicentennial collection. Chastain writes about the spread of the deaconess movement to India, and Isabella Thoburn was an early leader among deaconesses there. She also writes about the significance of the deaconess movement in the Philippines. Institutions like Ka Onang Bible Institute and leaders like Prudencia Fabro helped cultivate the movement there. The deaconess program in present-day United Methodism is overseen by United Women in Faith, formerly United Methodist Women.

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