Colloquium Presentation Abstracts
Historical Perspectives (October 7, 2006: 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.)
Susie E. Stanley, Messiah College
Paper title: "Wesleyan/Holiness Influence on Pentecostal Women Preachers"
Abstract: Would Pentecostal women have preached in such large numbers if converts to Pentecostalism had been primarily mainline Protestants? This paper will explore the role of the Wesleyan/Holiness Movement’s affirmation of women preachers among Pentecostals. The Wesleyan/Holiness movement provided a theological rationale for women preachers and, perhaps even more importantly, the witness of women preachers themselves. Many Pentecostal women preachers came directly from holiness affiliations. The paper will highlight these women and their calling to ministry.
David Roebuck, Lee University
Paper title: "Hearing Voices: The Influences of Word, Spirit and Culture on Women Ministers in Classical Pentecostalism"
Abstract: Christians have historically claimed that the Bible is our source of authority regarding the role of women in ministry. Yet both the Spirit and culture are influential in our interpretation of Scripture. This paper attempts to hear the voices of women ministers in the classical Pentecostal movement by examining both textual sources and oral history interviews in order to discern how Pentecostal women have used Word, Spirit and culture to justify, locate and describe their ministries.
Karen Kossie-Chernyshev, Texas Southern University
Paper title: "African American Pentecostal Women and Leadership: Redefining the Vanguard"
Abstract: The pastorate and the pulpit have been the most highly contested spaces among African American Pentecostals since the advent of the modern Pentecostal movement. Notwithstanding the controversy, Black Pentecostal women who felt spiritually compelled to preach, pastor, or form denominations and fellowships embraced their respective callings despite the criticism, with some establishing successful ministries that functioned for generations after their deaths. Even while Black Pentecostal women leaders of the twenty-first century continue to interrogate traditionally contested spaces, as did their foremothers, many are content to create positions of leadership by founding social ministries, which allow for a simultaneous expression of faith and service to the community. Using a variety of sources, including interviews with Black Pentecostal women founders of social ministries, I will argue that in our post-modern, post-denominational age, the social ministries they have created are relevant loci of spiritual leadership because they address directly and systematically the complex problems of our time, including teen pregnancy, homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and AIDS. The founders' collective commitment to faith-in-action is a vibrant reflection of spiritual leadership at its best and may signal the need to broaden the traditional definition of "leadership" among African American Pentecostals.
Barbara Cavaness, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
Paper title: "How Leadership Attitudes Impact Ministering Women: Historical and Missionary Perspectives"
Abstract: Many first-generation Pentecostal leaders encouraged and empowered women in ministry during the initial excitement of the Spirit's outpouring. This paper looks at the women affirmed by three such leaders, Parham, Barratt, and Seymour and then uses the case study of one early Pentecostal movement to assess how and to what extent leadership attitudes impacted the ministry of women—particularly single missionaries—as revival fires waned.
Biblical & Theological Perspectives (February 17, 2007)
Jenny Everts Powers, Hope College
Paper title: "Pentecostalism 101: Your Daughters Will Prophesy"
Abstract: When the early Pentecostals read Acts 2:16-17, they saw it as a promise that the spirit of prophecy would be poured out on all who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that the church was meant to be constituted as a prophetic community. In this early Pentecostal understanding, prophetic ministry encompassed all aspects of the ministry of the Word-- preaching, teaching, evangelizing, giving prophetic words, etc. So those who had received the baptism of the Holy Sprit, including women, were all potential ministers of the Word. However, over the next century this definition of prophecy was eroded and women were increasingly barred from various aspects of word ministry, especially teaching and preaching. This paper will trace how and why the definition of prophecy was narrowed and seek to restore a biblical and Pentecostal view of prophetic ministry that will again empower women for the full ministry of the Word.
Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, Colby College
Paper title: "You've Got A Right to the Tree of Life: The Biblical Foundations of an Empowered Attitude"
Abstract: Debates over the interpretation of the Bible have been central to the formation of Holiness, Pentecostal, and Apostolic traditions among African Americans (referred to collectively as "the Sanctified Church). Women in the Sanctified Church have shaped powerful positions for themselves in spite of and sometimes because of a variety of exclusionary strategies that have been regularly practiced. The conflicts in which these women engage are part of the larger world of the Black Church and its diverse approaches to women's participation and leadership. These diverse approaches have been shaped, in part, through debates over the roles of women in the Bible. This paper focuses on the historic and trans-denominational biblical traditions that women have constructed to counter their exclusion and silencing. Particular attention is paid to uses of the Bible to highlight the importance of women in ancient Israel and in the New Testament to challenge Christian patriarchy. These biblical discourses are part of an historic and trans-denominational ethos that can be traced back to slave religion and they enable women to shape and seek opportunities in multiple spaces throughout the Black Church. Locating the "attitude" of African American women, characterized by some as "holy boldness," in their usage of the Bible demonstrates the dynamics of conflict and order in a religious world, the Black Church, that accommodates the simultaneity of diversity and unity that sociologist James Blackwell argues characterizes "the Black community."
Cheryl Bridges Johns, Church of God Theological Seminary
Paper title: "Spirited Vestments: Why the Anointing is Not Enough"
Abstract: Within Pentecostalism the authentication of women in ministry vocation is often conveyed with images of anointing and Spirit empowerment. Quite often Joel 2:28-29 has been the reference text for women in ministry within the Pentecostal tradition. In the early years of the movement, when the dominant image of ministry was the prophetic, men, as well as women saw themselves as anointed prophets. However, ranks of ordination were quickly established, and by the mid-twentieth century, Pentecostal ministry contained both priestly and prophetic elements.
Women however, were relegated to the prophetic corner, where they were consigned to roles of evangelists and church planters. In many classical Pentecostal denominations the prophetic image and language of Spirit anointing continues as the dominant or only image and is used to maintain a façade of empowerment for ministry, all the while giving little external validation to the callings of women. Women in the 21st century will seek more external validation of ministry. It is important for Pentecostal/Charismatic churches to look beyond Joel 2:28 (while continuing to acknowledge the prophetic anointing), and develop a more holistic image of ministry. This presentation will attempt to provide a paradigm for a “new relatedness” that is grounded in a Trinitarian model of human relationships. The presentation revisits the meaning of imago dei and its implications for defining the priestly vocation of women and men, and calls for a Pentecostal option for women not unlike the liberationist preferential option for the poor.
Frederick Ware, Howard University School
Paper title: "Spiritual Egalitarianism, Ecclesiastical Pragmatism, and the Status of Women in Ordained Ministry"
Abstract: This paper is a critical examination of spiritual egalitarianism and ecclesial pragmatism, two tendencies in thought and practice that have influenced the status of women in ordained ministry. Spiritual egalitarianism, a sign and consequence of the Holy Spirit's work in the last days, is a theological distinctive of Pentecostalism. Ecclesial pragmatism, an accommodation to prevalent social and cultural norms, is the rationale underlying the creation of institutional structures (e.g., the tradition of "church mothers", development of women's auxiliaries, and formal recognition of women as "missionaries" or "evangelists") that become alternatives to ordained ministry. It appears that ecclesial pragmatism is not consistent with values established at the outset of the Pentecostal movement. Early Pentecostals often cited the Azusa revival as the best example of their vision of unity, the free, equal, and meaningful participation of all persons, in Christ. Respecting the work of the Holy Spirit in the Azusa revival, women and men were allowed to participate equally in worship and ministry. Many Pentecostals were self-aware that this vision of unity was in stark contrast to existing social practices. They sought a fellowship in the Spirit, a unity of humanity that transcends the boundaries of race, ethnicity, class, and gender. Spiritual egalitarianism, if Pentecostals will embrace it as authoritative tradition, requires that Pentecostals abandon church policies prohibiting women from ordained ministry. Through the Holy Spirit, God's reign of justice (the kingdom of God) which is "not yet" is experienced as "now", functioning as present moral guide for human action.
Global Perspectives (June 9, 2007)
Gaston Espinosa, Claremont McKenna College
Paper title: "Third Class Soldiers: A History of Hispanic Pentecostal Women in Ministry in the United States"
Abstract: The little that has been written on Latinas in religion has focused almost exclusively on the contemporary struggles of Catholic and mainline Protestant women from a decidedly feminist and/or liberationist perspective. Although this scholarship has filled an important gap in the literature, the stories of millions of non-feminist Latina Catholics, Pentecostals, Baptists, and others have gone largely untold. This essay explores the contributions of Hispanic Pentecostal women to the Latino Pentecostal movement in the United States, a movement that now numbers more than 4.5 million adherents in the U.S. Contrary to the Charles H. Barfoot and Gerald T. Sheppard thesis, there was no great reversal in the accumulation of power or right to ordination for Latinas in the early twentieth century such as there was in Anglo-American Pentecostalism. Instead, the history of clergywomen in Latino Pentecostalism has been long and checkered. Latinas have faced an uphill struggle against gender discrimination and the right to full ordination. Pentecostal women have practiced a kind of paradoxical domesticity whereby they are exhorted to be end-times prophetesses in the public sphere and devoted mothers and good wives in the private sphere. Despite the seemingly paradoxical lives they live, Pentecostal women are, by their own accounts, "liberated."
Pamela Holmes, Wycliffe College
Paper title: "Canadian Pentecostalism and its Ministering Women: A Pentecostal Feminist Critique"
Abstract: In the early years of the twentieth century, critical theorists from the early Frankfurt School in Germany were analyzing the political revolutions going on around them and advocating for the need for even further “Counter-Revolution and Revolt”(s). At the same time, out of view of middle and upper class echelons of culture and academy, a revolution of sorts was going on, among the descendents of slaves and others like them, against their former owners and current oppressors within both Christian churches and society of the time. This revolution, spurred on by the efforts and activities of women and men of various colors, on a small street in Los Angeles, in a former stable, came to be known as the modern day Pentecostal movement. The involvement of ministering women in the early years of Pentecostalism followed by the subsequent decline in their numbers has been noted time and time again and explained in various ways. I will explore that phenomena within the Canadian scene and attempt to analyze it using the intentionally multi-disciplinary insights of critical theorists and feminists who draws upon them. Pentecostalism contains within itself ideas and practices with rhetorical and symbolic significance. These ideas and practices hold within themselves emancipatory potential for the actual lived realities of women, not only in Canada, but also throughout the globe, both individually and communally. Placing these ideas and practices in a self-reflective, critical dialogue will illuminate this emancipatory potential.
Deidre Crumbley, North Carolina State University
Paper title: "Sanctified Saints – Impure Prophetesses: A Cross-Cultural Study of Gender, Purity, and Power in Two Afro-Christian Spiritual Churches"
Abstract: This study explores the interplay of cultural legacy, social history, and human agency in the formation of women’s roles in an African and African Diaspora spiritual church. Drawing on Hood’s global approach to Christianity practiced by Africans and people of African descent (Hood 1990), this study examines women’s roles in a Nigerian indigenous church and an African American sanctified church as windows on dynamics of gender, religion, and power. “Spiritual churches” refers to faith communities in which (1) biblical literalism forms the theological foundation, (2) revelation is on-going and demonstrated through charismatic adepts, and (3) divine power is experienced as imminent, accessible, and expressed through the body of believers in the form of glossolalia, religious dance, healing, revelation, etc. While both case study churches share these religious features, in one, women have held both ritual and political power as doctrinal arbiter and administrative decision-maker; in the other, women may not speak in church and must not approach holy places when menstruating. The aim of this study is to explore these two churches for insights into how gender practices in spiritual churches can range so widely, from arenas of unfettered female leadership to religious institutions that ritually exclude women from both holy office and holy space.
Julie Ma, Asia Pacific Theological Seminary
Paper title: "Phenomenological Change of Woman's Image in Global Setting and it's Influence to Woman's Role in Church"
Abstract: During the last decades, societies in different countries in general have recognized the signifciance and capability of women, particularly in social settings. And this is an indication of the growing awareness toward the ability of women and their leadership. Obviously this has influenced churches and Christian institutions and resulted in changes in attitude and practices, including women's leadership role. The study will investigate the social adaptation of women's role and its influence to the church.