24 October 2014
10 evangelical women you should know
Born in 1807, Palmer is considered one of the founders of the Holiness movement in the US, which later influenced the Methodist Church worldwide. She wrote several books, including The Way of Holiness and penned the melody to Fanny Crosby's Blessed Assurance. She led the Methodist Ladies' Home Missionary Society in founding the Five Points Mission in 1850 in a slum area of New York.
Take a look at a £5 note and you'll see a depiction of Elizabeth Fry – an English prison reformer and Christian philanthropist who became known as the "angel of prisons". Her heart and passion for the humane treatment of prisoners made her the driving force behind new legislation and saw her start the British Ladies' Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners – believed to be the first nationwide women's organisation in the UK.
Known as the 'mother of the Salvation Army', Catherine founded the movement with her husband William. She had attended Wesleyan Methodist classes from a young age and was a supporter of the temperance movement. A gifted communicator and preacher, she would speak to wealthy people to gain support for the Booths' ministry, while William preached to the poor. Catherine also organised Food for the Million shops where poor people could buy affordable meals. An avid reader, she wrote a number of books related to Christian living.
When Jackie Pullinger left the UK to be a missionary, she was only 22, with a degree in music. She had been turned down by several mission agencies as unqualified, but still she felt compelled to 'go'. Now Pullinger is well-known as a fearless missionary who has ministered in Hong Kong and seen more than 500 drug addicts saved from their addiction. She is also the founder of the St Stephen's Society. Following the success of her book Chasing the Dragon, she has spoken to thousands around the world.
Having learned to read in schools organised by preacher Thomas Charles from nearby Bala, Mary Jones had a burning desire to own her own Bible. This desire led her at age 15 to walk 25 miles in 1800, having saved for six years, in the hope that she could buy a copy of the scriptures. Mary wept when she discovered Charles had sold out. But her passion for the Bible moved Charles to form the British and Foreign Bible Society in London in 1804. In October, the Bible Society opened Mary Jones World – a museum telling the young girl's story and the story of the Bible – in Bala.
Born in 1848, Mary Slessor was a Scottish missionary to Nigeria. Having heard that David Livingstone had died, she decided at age 27 that she wanted to follow in his footsteps and spread the gospel overseas. She applied to the United Presbyterian Church's Foreign Mission Board and after training in Edinburgh arrived in Calabar, Nigeria, among the Efik people. Slessor made herself at home with the natives, learning to speak the language and eat traditional Nigerian food. She died from fever in Nigeria 35 years after she had first arrived.
Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon
Selina Hastings played a key part in the evangelical revival of 18th century Britain, counting George Whitefield and John Wesley among her friends. They held large dinner parties at which she would ask Whitefield to preach to the dignitaries after they had eaten. She founded the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion – a Calvinistic movement within the Methodist Church – and was responsible for founding 64 chapels, and funding many others. John Henry Newman said of her: "She devoted herself, her means, her time, her thoughts, to the cause of Christ."
A campaigner for human rights and the freedom of all people, Sojourner Truth is most famous for her 'Ain't I A Woman' speech at the Women's Rights Convention in Ohio in 1851. The most famous African-American woman of the 19th century, Truth – an illiterate ex-slave – became an advocate for the abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, temperance and prison reform.
Aimee Semple McPherson
Aimee Semple McPherson was the most famous Christian evangelist of the 1920s and 30s. Founder of the Foursquare Church, she was one of the most photographed women ofher time, often featured in the media giving quotes on a whole variety of subjects. She was one of the key figures behind the evangelical revival in the 20th century. After marrying her husband James in 1908 and starting a family ,she felt dissatisfied with her role as homemake rand felt she was denying her call to be an evangelist, until James invited her to come and preach with him in 1915.
Elaine Storkey is one of the most renowned evangelical leaders in the world today. She succeeded John Stott as executive director at the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity in 1991, and is also a former chair of Tearfund. She has been a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day for more than 20 years, and has written for countless newspapers and magazines. Her books include What's Right with Feminism and The Origins of Difference. She has served on a number of boards and councils, including the Evangelical Alliance Council – on which she currently sits, and the Crown Nominations Commission. She is currently president of Church of England think-tank Fulcrum.