“A woman pastor must have the courage of a lion, the hide of a rhinoceros, and it helps if you don’t have feelings” — Ruth Alexander.
Ruth Alexander is just one of a couple hundred women in the Wesleyan Church history who stood up and followed the call of God. Most of these women went to places which men would not think about going and ministering. You will find her story along with other female pastors in the book “Celebrate Our Daughters: 150 Years of Women in Wesleyan Ministry” by Maxine L. Haines and Lee M. Haines which was written in 2002. So really it has been 165 years since the Wesleyan Church has been ordaining women but somewhere this history has been lost. The Wesleyan Church was the first denomination to ordain women. Thanks to the Revs. Haines, we have uncovered part of this lost history to show that women have a place in the pulpit and no one can keep them out of it.
There are women like Stella Crosby Corum and Olga Marie Norman who were willing to go to mission churches to give them a great foundation. Olga Marie Norman was second pastor here in at McCrae Brook Wesleyan Church and helped organize it as a Wesleyan Methodist congregation. Some of the women were like Josephine M. Washburn would travel and do tent meetings.
Laurie Smith Haviland started a school that taught people who fled from slavery in the south in the 1830s and 1840s in Kansas. Her life was endangered because she aroused the wrath of slaveholders who were seeking their runway slaves.
There were also black women like Mrs. George A. Goings. She ministered with her husband in the south to their own people in 1897. They would be ministering on street corners.
To my surprise most of the female pastors were co-pastoring with their husband. So co-pastoring is nothing new to the Wesleyan Church. Women like Dorothy Francis Ragsdale who married to Paul Ragsdale. They followed God’s calling and went to the mission field.
There are many other women who have plowed the path in Wesleyan Church for female pastors like myself. I cannot tell you about all of them. You must read the book to see all the great women in our church history. Women are finally taking their place in the pulpits of the Wesleyan Church and the great history of women in ministry.