170 years ago today, July 19, 1848, a convention to discuss the social; civil and religious condition and rights of women was kicked off in Seneca Falls, NY. That convention was held at a Wesleyan Chapel. This would have been just 5 years after the founding of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection of America.
Just five years earlier, Orange Scott, Luther Lee, and three other men, separated (or were forced to separate) from the Methodist Episcopal Church over the issue of slavery and formed the Wesleyan Methodist Connection of America. There were other issues such as the episcopal structure of the Methodist Episcopal Church. This new church would be an abolitionist and it would not have bishops. This new church would also be one of the first churches to have equal clergy and lay representation at district and general conferences. The early Wesleyan Methodists were radical in their pursuit of justice. There were those who were interested in the issue of women’s rights and temperance. And yet this new denomination was one of the first churches in America to put in its discipline a statement on sanctification.
During our service at Emmaus Road tonight, we looked at Galatians 3:26-28, which was one of the guiding verses for the new Wesleyan Methodist Church.
26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
So today and tomorrow, because the convention went two days, we celebrate with the women and men who stood up for the rights of women – 170 years ago.