Friday, March 14, 2008

Where Are the Prominent United Methodist Women?

Sky Lowe-McCracken notes the prominence of female authors, speakers, and teachers in other denominations (e.g. Beth Moore of the SBC) and the relative scarcity of prominent UMW equivalents:

I personally have little problems with any of these folks. I've been to a Beth Moore study, and they are not "Baptist-y" - it's mainly just basic biblical knowledge. In fact, I know the church I serve have used the above resources for several studies.

Now a few years ago, I would have said, "Absolutely not. That stuff's not Methodist, Lifeway sells it, and we're not Baptists." But I soon realized the void wasn't being filled, that we were coasting way too long on DISCIPLE Bible Study, and then someone I know flat-out asked me: "Where are Methodist women leading and writing bible studies? Why do the Baptist have all the great women's bible studies?"

Well... where are the Methodist female evangelists today, in the tradition of Anna Howard Shaw, Belle Harris Bennett, Georgia Harkness, and Sarah Crosby? I have no problem with the United Methodist Women/Women's Division doing a study on Israel/Palestine peace relations. But if we are a denomination that is losing membership and increasingly biblically illiterate, should we not be in mission with our own in teaching basic biblical principles that would (incidentally) guide us in matters like Israel and Palestine?


Todd said...

From what I have observed, the Women's Division is more issue driven. They have not shown a desire to pursue general spiritual development for women. Whereas the UMMen's division hasn't been as focused on issue. They have been more focused on developing men's spiritual lives.

Another side of the subject could be, simply stated, our prominent women are not writing. They haven't felt led to do that type of work or they have not been empowered to do it.

Rev. Tiffany Steinwert said...

United Methodist Women and the Women's Division sponsors a "Reading Program" which includes a braod array of resources including bible studies.

There are also a number of United Methodist Women serving in the academy, writing great stuff that can be used in congregations...

Gayle Carlton Felton (By Water and the Spirit and This Holy Mystery)

Traci West

Karen Oliveto (Let's Talk)

Kelly Turney (Shaping Sanctuary)

Joretta Marshall

Marjorie Suchocki

Mary Elizabeth Moore

Pamela Courture

Sarah Lancaster

Elaine Robinson

Susan Henry Crowe

HiRho Park

Mercy Amba Oduyoye (global methodist)

Kathy Black

Kathleen Grieder

Ellen Ott Marshall

Jean Miller Schmidt

And these are just the women off the top of my head!!

Elizabeth said...

And actually, the UMW sponsors School of Christian Missions every year, with a geographical study, an issues study, and a bible study every year, open to men, women, young people - this is actually a really good although relatively unknown program. I've led worship at it myself a few times and attended when I was in high school. The resources are usually available right in cokesbury.

John B said...

That's quite a list Tiffany came up with. I've been a UM pastor for 20+ years, & I haven't heard of any of them????

My guess is that if one to come up with a similar list of Methodist male leaders, there would be at least some I've heard of. Is that about leadership or sexism or theology?

Elizabeth said...

;) I dont' know John B - I've met, or heard speak, or read books (or had class with) more than half that list of women!

John said...

I've heard of and read Gayle Carlton Felton, but the rest are completely unknown to me.

klh said...

I agree with the posts here that say that actually there are a lot of United Methodist women out there who are working hard to educate the church. But the point I am hearing in this blog is that there is a phenomenon happening in other denominations of women writing and teaching exceedingly powerful and wildly popular lay-directed Bible studies that end up being used across many denominations, including our own. I mean, Beth Moore is not just a smart female author with a lot to say - her work is an absolute nationwide phenomenon. I really can't think of a United Methodist counter-example to her. I think this is an interesting point well worth considering. It is certainly one near and dear to my own heart.

larry said...

I personally like the work of our conference evangelist and author, Kim Riesman. She has co-authored some study material with Maxie Dunnam; she would be outstanding (IMO) in a video-format study as well if she ever decided to prodce one. She may not have the national presence of a Beth Moore, but she is certainly kept busy with plenty of speaking engagements. She is solidly Wesleyan and evangelical in her theology, and is very culturally engaged (she blogs at, and she also had a regular podcast of interviews with interesting people for while - her link for that seems to be down at the moment).

Michael said...

Why do they have to be women? Why can't the existing pool of "great" teachers/leaders suffice? Are we somehow poorer because there are no "prominent" UM women? Are things not getting done for lack of female "greats"? I would first suggest that "prominent" is in the eye of the beholder and that there are many Methodist females who are great, but what does their gender have to do with anything?

John said...

but what does their gender have to do with anything?

Now you see, Michael, that sort of attitude will never get you elected bishop or tenured at a seminary.

the reverend mommy said...

gee, how about me and Beth Quick??

And I'm with Beth -- I've either read or had lunch with or taken a class from half that list, too.

Michael said...

Now see? Rev Mommy and Beth Quick. But do we love 'em because they're women, or do we love 'em because they each call us to account with their faith and their intellect?

John, you should know that I turned down a bishop-ship. It didn't pay enough! It wasn't UM, though. They said something about Cardinal Fred Phelps (??). Never heard of 'im.

Sky Lowe-McCracken said...

Rev. Mommy and Beth:

I know most of those women on the list Tiffany gave, and I am the best Gayle Felton fan there is. But that's because we about as active in Methodist circles as you can get What I mean is, for the person in the pew, where are our Methodism Women? Or, for that matter, Methodist Men?

Those were the points I was trying to make.

Thanks for the press, John.



gavin richardson said...

in the youth world, kenda creasy dean is queen & king. though she teaches at princeton, which is presby i think, she is published by the upperroom.. the umph and discipleship resources only wish they could afford her. she also supports the youth worker movement which is a wesleyan based youth networking and resource agency.

Keith McIlwain said...

Personally, I think the UMW - an historically GREAT group - is in a sorry state. The mixing of politics and theology is certainly a part of their heritage (and OURS, as United Methodists), but they SEEM to be so beholden to a particular political viewpoint that they often can't speak effectively to our culture and our Church.

This isn't to say there aren't great female leaders and theologians...there are lots (though most of Tiffany's list is unknown to me...other than Felton & Suchocki). But the UMW seems to be in a real crisis period, whether or not they realize it. Which is too bad, because we need them.