From the Pen of Rev Steve

Recent copies of the minister's letters from Rev Steve. These are reproduced from the monthly Newsletter.

May 2023: The Call to Preach?

Few people in Methodism have heard of Sarah Crosby or Mary Bosanquet. I suppose it isn’t very surprising as little is written about them, yet they were very influential in their day, and became trailblazers for so many women that followed. They were both early women preachers in the Methodist movement. There was a reticence on John Wesley’s part to give access to the pulpit for women despite his upbringing. After all Susanna Wesley was a huge influence on his life and effectively was the preacher of the word to him and his siblings. In fact the weekly prayer meetings that she held for the family were augmented with residents of Epworth, and her wisdom and guidance were well respected. Yet despite this upbringing John Wesley was reluctant to cause any further schism between the movement called Methodism and the Church of England. Although when it was realised that the schism was going to last he endorsed the access of women to the pulpits of the preaching houses of Methodism.

Sarah Crosby and Mary Bosanquet worked in London, and also in Derby, working with the poor and destitute and providing a haven for them that Wesley refers to as Little Bethel. Mary writes to Wesley, and partly influenced by her work, but also by the strength of her argument in the letter Wesley is convinced to give her a note to preach.
Ever since that day the Methodist church has tested and ratified the call to preach to thousands of women. My own mother was one of Wesley’s preachers, actively involved for 49 years. It would be wrong of me to say that our denomination is exempt from gender discrimination because that is not true. Yet I am encouraged to know that from those early years Methodism was a trailblazer for an alternative approach.

Throughout its history Methodism has been training and equipping lay people to preach from our pulpits. The training is still as rigorous as it always was weaving together both practical experience and academic knowledge. I have believed for some time that the training provides our local preachers with an understanding that extends beyond the pulpit. After all, preaching isn’t just about what is said on a Sunday, but what is lived out every day of the week.

If you feel any sense of a call to preach, whether you are a woman or a man, or if you sense that someone else in the congregation has the attributes to explore a calling then please let me know, for you could be the next Sarah Crosby or Mary Banquet!

Every Blessing. .

From the Pen of Rev Steve
Few people in Methodism have heard of Sarah Crosby or Mary Bosanquet