This blog post was initially published on the Manchester Wesley Research Committee Blog site. Please click here to view the original post.
My research centered on transatlantic Methodism in the late nineteenth century, focusing on the rise of the Deaconess Movement. I was especially interested in studying the role of British Methodist “sisterhoods” formed in the 1880s, culminating with the establishment of the Wesley Deaconess Institute in the Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1890. During the six weeks of my fellowship, I examined how these women contributed to what I consider to be a vital, yet overlooked, component for understanding the development of Methodism’s social witness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The John Rylands Library has an extensive collection of materials related to Wesleyan Deaconesses, including personal papers, correspondences, and several diaries/journals kept by different women. Additionally, the examination of important periodicals, such as the Methodist Times and Flying Leaves (the early twentieth-century journal of the Wesleyan Methodist Deaconess Movement), provided an invaluable look into the lives of these women and their work.
Part of what I discovered in my research was the extent that these late nineteenth century Methodist women were influenced by the international women’s temperance movement. While striving to get people to sign “the pledge” (a vow that individuals would abstain from buying and consuming alcohol), Methodist women in cities like Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, and London saw alcohol abuse connected with larger problems of late nineteenth-century urbanization.
The highlight of my research occurred when Rylands archivist, Gareth Lloyd uncovered a diary kept by a Wesleyan Methodist Deaconess, Jeanie Banks. The diary, covering the years from 1888 to 1893, provides a vivid depiction of her work at the Wesleyan Methodist East End London Mission. In detail, Banks discusses her weekly routines of teaching children, leading open air revivals, and most especially, the door-to-door visitation that represented the backbone of Deaconess work. Banks, and other Deaconess women, took to heart John Wesley’s belief that ministry could not be accomplished by proxy. That is, one needed to be exposed to the living conditions of those who struggled with poverty.
What I took away from reading Banks’s journal, as well as reading the narratives of other Deaconess women, is that understanding the development of late nineteenth century Methodism moves beyond formal theologies. These women were anchored in a passionate commitment to lead their communities to Christian conversion. Yet their beliefs were often forged out of the multiple roles that they took on as teachers, preachers, social workers, and community activists. As they shared their understanding of Christianity, they also strove to provide urban poor a sense of personal agency and self-worth.
My research will not only contribute to a transatlantic understanding of the Deaconess Movement, but also show how late nineteenth-century Methodist women were able to create the space within male-dominated church structures to engage in visionary forms of ministry. My time in Manchester will contribute to several articles that explore the history and work of the Deaconess movement, as well as to a book project on the International Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and its charismatic Methodist leader, Frances E. Willard.
October 13, 2017
Dear Beloved Community,
The news from Northern California describes the worst fire in more than a century – a fire that has destroyed nearly 200,000 acres and killed at least 32 people, with the death toll still rising. The School of Theology community has many students, alums, families and friends in Northern California, and our prayers soar on their behalf. Neighborhoods, farms, and wineries have been devastated, and many hundreds of people are facing catastrophic loss. At the same time, first responders have been doing wonderful work, as have congregations and non-profits, propelled by compassion. In such a setting, we can pray and give, and many of you will give time and energy “on the ground.” All of us can carry the people and land of California in our hearts and daily actions. Such action is at the heart of faith and faithfulness.
We can also do more. We need to respond to the larger issues that surround us. While raging fires destroy the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people and wipe out vast acres of land, the people of Puerto Rico are still living with limited and polluted water, lack of food and power and almost daily refusals and insults from the U.S. government. We need to continue holding them in prayer, as well as the victims and rebuilders in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, the Virgin Islands, and beyond. We cannot lose our focus on caring for and acting communally and politically to address the issues that follow all of these terrible disasters. They are a collective cry of the Earth and its peoples for support and justice. We must respond to all communities that cry out for emergency and long-term help. The Latin American tradition of acompañar (accompaniment) has much to say to the human community at this moment. Individuals, congregations, and agencies need to find ways to respond now, and then commit to the long road of assisting and rebuilding communities and infrastructures for many years to come.
We can also do more. We can act for our fragile ecology. We can educate ourselves on climate change and the policies and practices that can contribute to stabilizing, slowing, and even reversing parts of the terrible downward spiral that WE have allowed the earth to enter. Without debating the scientific details in this moment, please be aware that, in this year of the worst hurricanes and worst fires, we are culpable. We are culpable in our collective refusal to believe and respond to the increasing extremes in weather – droughts, climate warming, melting ice caps, storm-building, and other extremes. As we travel the long road to assist devastated communities in addressing immediate and long-term needs, may we also travel the long road of responding to the cries of our earth. We CAN make a difference.
With despair, prayer, and hope,
Mary Elizabeth Moore
Dear Beloved Community,
This battering with bullets HAS to STOP! We come together yet again to mourn the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas, Nevada, which has already claimed more than 50 lives, with hundreds of others injured, some critically. I join with the whole BU School of Theology community to share our overwhelming grief and concern for the people who have been killed and injured and for all of their loved ones. We want the people closest to this tragedy to know that your grief is our grief. Your devastation is ours, though we know we cannot fully know the depths of your sadness and your raging range of emotion. Our hearts are broken, and we pray and cry and act for you in this tragic time.
The sounds of tragedy are a barrage of bullets, screams and tears, running footsteps, breaking into a night of open-air music, intended for enjoyment. The sounds of tragedy are the tears and wailing in hospitals and in homes as families and friends try to find their loved ones, and as some of those loved ones receive the worst possible news. The sounds of tragedy are the internal groans of all the people who will not and cannot forget this night of horror. We cry with you and we cry for all of the tragic actions, policies, damaged individuals, and damaged society that led to this moment.
The sounds of tragedy are also sounds of sickness in our society. The public will learn more about the presumed shooter later and about whatever sickness led to his horrible acts of violence. What we know NOW is that our society is sick. We have allowed a gun culture to flourish under the guise of the second amendment, which is a thin veneer to hide our willingness to tolerate escalating violence and death. We feed this acceptance of death with inadequate gun laws and with a culture that accepts killing as routine and unstoppable. The United States was founded on principles of freedom – freedom to live and not freedom to kill. The isolation of the freedom to bear arms from the freedom to live is a tragedy. We as a society can do better. May the sounds of tragedy and the sounds of sickness awaken us finally to pray and work for radical change in ourselves and in our society.
With prayers of sadness for all of you who lost your lives in Las Vegas,
And for all of you who are still struggling with injuries and loss,
With prayers of gratitude for all of you who risked your lives to save others,
With prayers of hope that we can respond to the depths of your grief,
And to the depths of tragic loss and sickness in our society.
— Mary Elizabeth Moore
Dr. Christopher B. James’ (STH ’16) new publication Church Planting in Post-Christian Soil: Theology and Practice will be released on December 8th, 2017. By utilizing a methodological approach to church planting, Dr. James’ work offers churches practical proposal for successful church planting. Rooted within deep theological reflection, his work allows minsters and congregations discover techniques for robust ministries within a shifting landscape.
More information, reviews, and purchasing options for Dr. James’ publication can be viewed on the Oxford University Press website.
Rev. Dr. Neal F. Fisher (STH ’60, GRS ’66) has published a new work entitled Introduction to Christian Faith: A Deeper Way of Seeing. Focusing on the abiding love of God, Rev. Dr. Fisher carries his readers into a deep exploration of what is real, what matters, and what is true.
More information, reviews, and purchasing options for Rev. Dr. Fisher’s publication can be viewed on the UMC General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
Dear Beloved Community,
Please pause during this day and pray mightily for the people of Mexico affected by the earthquake, and for the people of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria. All of you who are from Mexico and Puerto Rico, together with your families, are close in our hearts these days, and we ask that you tell us about anything we can do to respond.
I also encourage all of you to find the disaster-response organization that you most trust for its good work, and support it in any way you can. We are part of a human community, and the suffering of any part of that community is devastating for the whole.
With prayers for ALL of you, and especially for people who are suffering terrible disasters this week,
Allentown, NJ—The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey announces the appointment of Jessica Davis (STH ’93, LAW ’96) to Allentown United Methodist Church. Davis has served St. Paul’s UMC in Mt. Holly since 2013. She is the president and founder of the Faith & Public Policy Institute in Princeton which educates the faith community on domestic and foreign policy. She authored “The One Woman Show: A New Voice in the Desegregation Movement” and received a BA from Franklin and Marshall College, a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology, a Juris Doctor from Boston University School of Law, a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University.
About Allentown UMC
Allentown UMC has a blended style of worship that appeals to all ages. They have short term studies on Wednesday evenings and participate in A Future with Hope, CROP CWS, Loaves & Fishes, Allentown Food Pantry, Good Neighbor Fund, Food Baskets, Harvest Festival, and involvement in ecumenical services and events. Their ministries include a SONshine Club for kindergarten to third grade children and they support groups including AA, Scout Troops, and local groups who use the church for their meetings. For more information on Allentown UMC, please visit their website www.allentown-umc.org.
About the United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey has 560 churches and more than 50,000 worshipers in the region. United Methodist mission helps to feed, train, and house the most vulnerable in our communities. In 2016, 22,282 United Methodists in Greater New Jersey served 452,572 people in need throughout the state, region, and world.
Dedham, MA – Torrey Joyner’s philosophy on life and challenges can be best expressed by the words on his favorite T-shirt — “Being Awesome Has Its Advantages.” Wherever this 28-year-old Dedham resident goes he makes a statement — one of positive energy. That energy shows in his smile, his laugh and his spirit. Even his eyes reflect that energy, as he listens to every word people have to say.
For now, it’s life using a wheelchair.
“Amazingly,” said his fiancé, Andrea Lopes. “He is the same person, same spirit, same Torrey.”
“And if you know Torrey, you know he is a huge magnetic spirit with nonstop energy to talk, laugh and listen to others. This has made it easier for me to view him the same, treat him the same and be in love with him in the same way as before, which is pretty remarkable.”
Read the whole story, written by Linda Thomas and published on August 16, 2017, here.
Dear Beloved Community,
The horrors of Hurricane Harvey have gripped all of us as we see the huge destruction of human lives, homes, and health. We know, however, that we have students with close relatives and friends in Houston and Corpus Christi and all across southern Texas, as well as Louisiana, where Tropical Storm Harvey is now headed. We hear news report that change by the hour – at least 16 people dead; more than 13,500 people rescued with expectation of numbers rising at least to 30,000; 25-30% of Harris County (home of Houston) flooded; untold damage to homes that can only be assessed in weeks to come; and oil refineries and other plants compromised and releasing deadly chemicals. We hear and see the deadly destruction of people and land and waterways. This is a human and ecological disaster.
As compassionate people, you are reading these figures and seeing the pictures yourselves. But can you and I even imagine the horrors that people across Southeast Texas are facing as they look out at flood waters, await rescue, and wonder where their loved ones are? Can we imagine what the people of Louisiana are facing and fearing after the devastations of Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Can we imagine the concern that members of our own BU School of Theology community experience as they worry about their loved ones in Texas and Louisiana and as they check in on them and listen to their stories?
We can only glimpse the situation with our conscious and analytic minds. We need to pause, breathe deeply of Spirit, and let the images touch us. We need to pause, breathe deeply, and pray. We need to find a way to act – to support the rescuers and rescued, the displaced families and communities, the emergency teams, the neighbors helping neighbors, the churches and other places of worship that have opened their sacred spaces to house and treat and serve the people.
We cannot fully imagine the horrors, but we can glimpse and feel and act. May God bless your efforts, your feelings, and your actions, and may we all find pathways to respond in our unique ways. The people of Southeast Texas and Louisiana need to know that, even if we cannot fully imagine, we care!
With prayers of deep concern and fragile hope,
Your Deans – Mary Elizabeth, Pamela, and Bryan
Dr. Herman O. Kelly, Jr. (’83) edited a new work edited “Black Rhetorical Traditions in The Civil Rights Movement.” Dr. Kelly is the Pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge, La. and adjunct faculty at Louisiana State University in the African and African American Studies Program and The College Of Education.