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December 24

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This document has been taken from emailed versions
of Women of Achievement. The complete episode
will be published here in the future.

The Presbyterian Church and Women


QUOTES by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Helen Rowland.

Presbyterian Women

      1826: the Presbytery of Philadelphia voted to chastise two congregations which had allowed an "itinerant female" to preach in their churches, the first recorded instance of American Presbyterian judicatory vote on the role of women in the church.
      1832: a pastoral letter approved by the general assembly went out
"...To teach, exhort, or to lead in prayer, in public and promiscuous assemblies, is clearly forbidden to women in Holy Oracles."
      1872: Quaker preacher Sara F. Smiley was invited to preach at the 1,400 member Lafayette church, Brooklyn. The minister Theodore J. Cuyler was promptly rebuked by the Brooklyn Presbytery. Cuyler described Smiley as "a woman of maturity, of sweet Christian character, and gifted with extraordinary powers as a preacher."
      1891: the ordination of women deacons study reflected "a majority in the church are in favor of securing in some orderly way the services of godly women to assist in religious work, and are desirous of clothing them with some measure of authority."
      Finally in 1922, the ordination of women as deacons was approved but the ordinations had to wait until 1923 for the ordinandi were amended and the word "brothers" removed.
      1920: the general assembly voted overwhelmingly to approved the ordination of women as elders and defeated in the presbyteries.
      1930: the ordination of women as elders was approved while the ordination of women as ministers was defeated.
      1956: the Presbyterian Church approved the ordination of women as ministers. It took 150 years, but it did happen.
      1978: the General Assembly refused to ratify a study committee recommendation and prohibited practicing homosexuals from being ordained as elders, deacons, or ministers.
      1992: Practicing lesbian Janie Spahar had her pastoral call from the Downtown United Church, Rochester, NY, revoked.
            [RESOURCE: - Boyd, Lois A. and Brackenridge, R. Dougals. Presbyterian Women in American, Two Centuries of a Quest for Status. Presbyterian Historical Society, 1983.]

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B. 12-24-1869, Henriette Goverdina Anna Roland Holst-van der Schalk, Dutch poet whose work deals with humanitarian concerns.

B. 12-24-1887, Lucrezia Bori, Spanish-born soprano who became the first woman board member of the Metropolitan Opera after a remarkable opera career. She debuted with the Metropolitan in 1912 opposite Enrico Caruso. She had to retire in 1915 to have a node removed from her vocal chords (a very dangerous operation in those days) and she rejoined the Met in 1921 and sang with the company until 1936. During the depression she vigorously campaigned for funds to keep the Met going and because of her business acumen was made a member of the Board in 1935.

B. 12-24-1900, Hortense Powdermaker, anthropologist who studied the "effect upon American movies of the unique social system under which the film makers and film stars live" and produced her findings in the book Hollywood, the Dream Factory (1950). A full professor at Queens College in New York, taught at Yale University, and has done field work in the American South as well as Africa and the South Pacific Melanesians.

B. 12-24-1927, Mary Higgins Clark, author of suspense novels.

Event: 12-24-1948, first solar heated house occupied. The experiments were sponsored by Amelia Peabody, house designed by Eleanor Raymond, and the heating system developed by Dr. Maria Telkes. It was cheap and effective and promptly ignored by industry.

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      "Woman should stand beside man as the comrade of his soul, not the servant of his body."
            -- Charlotte Perkins Gilman

      "In olden times sacrifices were made at the altar - a practice which is still continues for women."
            -- Helen Rowland

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