“REPORT ACCEPTED AND CHARACTER PASSED”
Some Ordained and Licensed Women from the years 1929 - 1939 in the
Kansas and Oklahoma
Conferences of the . Pentecostal Holiness
Ora B. Shively
Mollie (1925) Wilson
Dolly (1910) York
Marilyn A. Hudson, with Alicia Hutson , April 2006
The year was 1965 in
in the home of the pastor of the local . The
guest evangelist, Mary E. Ford, was a woman just easing out of middle age
wearing a cream colored chiffon blouse, a sturdy brown woolen skirt, with
fading hair escaping from its once tidy bun.
Her wide pleasant face was a roller coaster of expressions from intense
concentration to hearty laughter. Pentecostal Holiness
Sitting at the parsonage piano, a sturdy black upright, she is surrounded by the daughters of the pastor and a friend of theirs who often came to visit. The visitor entertains them playing snappy standards from the forties and crooning tunes from the fifties. She responded to the news that the oldest girl was taking business courses by encouraging her to keep her chin up and not let the men bully her. She recounted with great hilarity a time when an employer had tried to bull her and all laughed at the impossibility the image presented.
To all of those gathered around the piano that afternoon she shared her love of God, her courage, her experience, and her sense of fun. To each and every one there she encouraged them to “press on” in their faith and to get a good education.
“Report Accepted....Character Passed....”
The Holiness and Pentecostal movements were unique episodes of American religious history but shared a common thread in a willingness to accept women as instruments of ministry. From the earliest days in both movements women responded to God with a desire to preach the gospel with as much enthusiasm as their male counterparts. As some elements of both merged to form the Pentecostal movement, the invigorating dynamic of a life that sought to live in the fullest relationship with God was not one that would accept limitations easily.
An examination of the official registers of membership for the
and Kansas Conferences of the
for the years 1929-1939 reveals some interesting insights, identifies some
pioneer women, and provides a context for further discussion about the historic
role of women within the Pentecostal tradition. Pentecostal
The title stems from a reoccurring statement recorded in the 1929 year book. As the conference business would progress the ministers present would offer their reports (how many sermons preached, miles traveled, etc.) and at the conclusion there would be a motion of “report accepted and character passed.” It is a fitting testimony to the role of these women and their unique place in the history of the American church and the Pentecostal tradition that without question each one was accepted.
Description of the Project
A brief survey of records contained in the “Year Book of the
for the years 1929 to 1939 was conducted.
Names of obviously female ordained and licensed women were recorded and
their number compared with the total list of individuals. One limitation may be that some additional
persons on the lists may also be female and the use of initials in their names
may conceal that fact. Also, there is margin of error because of a few names
that can be either a man or a woman’s name and some women did marry changing
their name. However, women, according to
the most common format employed, were most often listed with the title of
“Mrs.” followed by their husband’s name, or their first names if a young woman
or “spinster”. The scope of this study
was to collect numbers of active female ministers, compile a list of
names, and identify early women
ministers, so no attempt has been made to gain broad or detailed biographical
information on all of them. Pentecostal Holiness Church
The Pentecostal movement of the 20th century is generally considered to have begun in1901. Agnes Ozman is believed to be the first person to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. She was a student in Charles Parham’s school in
in January of 1901. An African-American
student there, William Seymour carried the message west to Topeka, Kansas and from a mission located on Los Angeles Azusa Street the
experience spread across the country.
From its inception the movement seemed to epitomize an equality of persons that was unique for the time period. Service to God and blessings of the Holy Spirit (“the anointing”) became the litmus test of value over issues of gender or even race.
Pauline writings that for the Christian community existing as one in Christ there was to be no longer “male or female” or “slave and free” (Galatians 3: 28-29), now took on liberating meanings as leadership in the new Pentecostal movement featured both women and persons of color. The dynamic nature of the experience, and the resulting sense of urgency in proclaiming the gospel, convinced many that indeed the time of the Biblical “latter rains” had come. Citing the prophet Joel in the Old Testament , “Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh, your sons and daughters will prophesy...” (Joel 2:29-32), few in the movement felt they could place limitations on who ministered.
Ordained and Licensed Women,
Kansas and , 1929 and 1939. Oklahoma
The following women were identified from the rolls of those who served as formally recognized ministers. With some exceptions, most had been admitted to the conference within the same decade. Most were assigned a local church; some assisted their husbands in the work, while some served as evangelists. On a administrative level, although they were frequently serving on conference committees of the more traditional women’s areas such as “Memoirs” ( a record of those who had died the preceding year) and “Public Morals”, they were also in leadership roles dealing with issues of publication, missions, and resolutions (i.e., 1939 in Kansas Mary E. Ford served on the Committee on Resolutions and later would be conference secretary-treasurer). Some would in coming years be in key leadership roles on state levels and at least one went on to be published in the national publication, The Pentecostal Holiness Advocate.
Attempts to identify the earliest women licensed or ordained in these regions is challenging due to the fact that the records from that time period are incomplete or are not clear as to gender. From information located, however, there are several women who were ordained within a few years of
1907 statehood. Mrs. Dolly York of Oklahoma was admitted to
the ministry roll of the Oklahoma Conference in 1910 and Willa J. Short in
1911. In the Kansas Conference Annie E.
Carmack was admitted in 1913. The
earliest male counterpart was O.C. Wilkins
admitted in 1910.  Oklahoma
Carmack, Annie E.
Downing, Annie M.
Ford, Mary E.
Pinkston, Mrs. J.P.
Shannon, Mary Katherine Butterfield Davis (1916)
Sprogue, Mrs. E.H.
Ward, Linna (later Rogers)
Anderson, Mrs Lillian
Atchley, Mrs. Sarah
Bland or Blond, Vella Cleta
Brandstandt, Mrs. N.C
Brooks, Mrs. Eva.
Campbell, Mrs. J.A. (1913)
Chilcoat,Fae or Eula
Cothran, Mrs. L.V.
Darrow, Mrs. C.L. (Smith)
Dooley, Mrs. Ed
Fowler, Mrs. S.S.
Gaither, Mrs. S.E.
Hallam, Mrs. Urchie
Hampton, Mrs. H.W.
Hill, Mrs. O.M.
Hurt, Mrs. Margarett
Iley, Mrs. J.H.
Isbell, Mrs. Ruth
Jones, Margaret (1925)
Keener, Mrs. Lillie
Landers, Essie D. (1926)
Lily, Mrs. L.V.
Little, Mrs. N.W.
Manning, Opal V.
Martin, Mrs. L.B. (1929)
McGraw, Mrs. D.
Muse, Mrs. Dan T.
Pierce, Mrs. Idell
Peters, Mrs. L.A. (1919)
Pinkston, Mrs. Anna
Pool, Mrs. T.W.
Price, Miss Chessie
Revell, Mrs. Emma
Roberson or Robertson, Mrs. J.W.
Roberts, Pearl Mrs.
Rooms, Mrs. Myrtle
Ross, Mrs. Melvin
Schockly, Mrs. Tinnie
Smith, Mrs. C.L.(Maggie?) (1913)
Sparks, Mrs. E. W.
Spence, Mrs. H.N.
VanBrunt, Mrs. Dorothy
Wassom, Mrs. Della
Weaver, Mrs. C.M (1929)
Wedel, Ello Lous
Williams, Mrs. W.A. (1913)
Wilson, Clara (1929)
Wright, Mrs. L.E.
York, Mrs. W.C.
A survey of the conference rolls for the regions of
for the years 1929 to 1939 reveal that women played a significant role and were
a definitive presence. The number of women who were formally recognized as
being ordained, licensed or doing the work of an evangelist is impressive
considering the overall size of the regions they served. The women who were
leaders in ministry at an early time period in the conferences of Kansas Oklahoma and
are identified adding to the rich history emerging of women in the Pentecostal
The survey also raises many questions worthy of additional consideration and research. For example, how does the central region compare to the more populated areas of the south, home base of the
at the same time? How consistent are the
percentages of women to men in successive decades, and if there is a decline
can a cause be identified?
Who were the earliest women in the denomination as a whole to be recognized as
clergy? How were women “called” to
service in the early days and in what ways did their fellow ministers mentor
them? What impact, if any, did the
formation of the national “Women’s Auxiliary” in the nineteen forties and the
latter “Women’s Ministries” have on the number of women going into
ministry? What were the nature and
content of their sermons? And finally, how successful were they in what they
did? Pentecostal Holiness Church
 The first pastor of the author was the Rev. Sallie Mae Flippin,
(1960). Her second pastors were Evelyn and Bill Thompson, Wellington
Pentecostal Holiness Church, Kansas . As a teenager she had the opportunity to
spend time with Mary E. Ford (who is listed in the study) when she was a guest
in the home of the Rev. Hoyle Baker. Wellington
Benvenuti, Sheri R. “Pentecostal Women in Ministry: Where Do We Go From Here?” Cyberjournal for Pentecostal Charsimatic Research. Accessed at http:www.pctii.org/cyberj/cyberj1/ben.html on 4/18/2006.
Blumhofer, Edith, The Assemblies of God: A Popular History (Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 1985) 137.
 Hudson, Marilyn A., “In Christ: An Exploration of the Egalitarianism of Galations”, unpublished paper, Southwestern College of Christian Ministries, 1989.
Charles H. Barfoot and Gerald T. Sheppard, “Prophetic vs. Priestly Religion: The Changing Role of Women Clergy in Classical Pentecostal Churches, “ Review of Religious Research, 22:1 (September)4.
 Year Book of the Annual Conferences of the
; Also Missionary
Facts and Figures, 1929. Pentecostal Holiness
Church Franklin Springs,
Georgia: Publishing House of
the P.H.C.; Year Book of the ,
Holiness Church Franklin Springs, Georgia:
Publishing House of the . Pentecostal
 Pentecostal Holiness Advocate, Sept, 12, 1946, cover photo shows her with a group of Kansas Conference leaders hading a check to Oral Roberts for new
in . Oklahoma
. “The Lion, The Greyhound and the He-goat”,
The Pentecostal Holiness Advocate, (Feb.1, 1945) 5. She is listed as an evangelist of the Oklahoma Conference.; also Feb.22, 1945,
a poem “As Soon As Funds Are Available”, pg. 3 Alice
 Year Book of the Annual Conference..., the 1930 issue reads for O.C. Wilkins “1909", but the next and all subsequent years read “1910".
 “Sister A.I. Shannon,
Pioneer Holiness Preacher
Passes”, East Oklahoma Conference
News, ( March 1944) 8 and the register in the Minutes
of the Annual Conference of the Pentecostal Holiness Church., 1931. Kansas
 Some clues emerge early, G.H. Montgomery writing in the Advocate artle “Do We Need A Seminary?”said “Who is going to be in charge of this seminary? ...These men (and they will have to be men, or I am through with the whole idea right now;” (Feb.15, 1945)2. [emphasis in the original].