“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 Church.
 
Compiled By
 Marilyn A. Hudson, with Alicia Hutson ,  April 2006
 
The year was 1965 in Wellington, Kansas, in the home of the pastor of the local Pentecostal Holiness Church.  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. 
 
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[1].
“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[2].  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.[3]
An examination of the official registers of membership for the Oklahoma and Kansas Conferences of the Pentecostal Holiness Church 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.
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 Pentecostal Holiness Churchfor 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.
History
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 Topeka, Kansas in January of 1901.  An African-American student there, William Seymour carried the message west to Los Angeles and from a mission located on 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.[4]  
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.[5]   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.[6]
Ordained and Licensed Women, Kansas and Oklahoma, 1929 and 1939.[7]
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[8]). 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.[9]
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 Oklahoma’s 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. [10]

Kansas (24):

Barnes, Emma

Beal, Estella

Brownback, Nellie

Carmack, Annie E.

Downing, Annie M.

Filbert, Estella

Eslin, Lavonia

Ford, Mary E.

Hall, Alline

Hill, Edith

Hoel, Olive

Kaminska, Lucinda

Orr, Lizzie

Pinkston, Mrs. J.P.

Roth, Berthe

Shannon, Mary Katherine Butterfield Davis (1916)[11]

Shively, Ora B.

Spotts, Ruby

Sprogue, Mrs. E.H.

Thiele, Hellen

Taylor, Beulah

Trader, Marietta

Ward, Linna (later Rogers)

Wassom, Della

Wedeking, Nettie

Oklahoma (107):

Adair, Gertrude

Allen, Reba

Anderson, Mrs Lillian

Atchley, Mrs. Sarah

Barger, Rosa (1927)

Beall, Estella

Bell, Eva

Bennett, Maggie

Bland or Blond, Vella Cleta

Booking, Viola

Brandstandt, Mrs. N.C

Brooks, Mrs. Eva.

Brown, Irene

Buchanan, Stella

Bullard, Beulah

Byus, Hazel

Campbell, Mrs. J.A. (1913)

Caldwell, Juanita

Carlton, Bell

Carmack, Annie

Carter, Carrie

Chilcoat,Fae or Eula

Clarke, Neva (1925)

Classen, Clara

Coley, Beatrice

Cooper, Nora

Cothran, Mrs. L.V.

Darrow, Mrs. C.L. (Smith)

Dooley, Mrs. Ed

Fowler, Mrs. S.S.

Frantz, Edna

Gaither, Mrs. S.E.

Glenn, Evelyn

Haley, Inez

Hallam, Mrs. Urchie

Hamilton, Naomi

Hampton, Mrs.  H.W.

Hatfield,  Mittie

Hargis, Lucile

Hill, Mrs. O.M.

Hope, Grace

Housdon, Minnie

Hurt, Mrs. Margarett

Hutto, Amana

Iley, Mrs. J.H.

Isbell, Mrs. Ruth

Jones, Margaret (1925)

Keener, Mrs. Lillie

King, Sadie

Landers, Essie D. (1926)

Laymon, Elsie

Lily, Mrs. L.V.

Little, Mrs. N.W.

Kern, Anna

Manning, Opal V.

Martin, Mrs. L.B. (1929)

McCully, Gladys

McGraw, Mrs. D.

Meeks, Mrytle

Mitchusson, Minnie

Moore, Ruth

Moore, Vestal

Muse, Mrs. Dan T.

Nance, Bertha

Pierce, Mrs. Idell

Peters, Mrs. L.A. (1919)

Pinkston, Mrs. Anna

Pool, Mrs. T.W.

Poteet, Vera

Price, Miss Chessie

Revell, Mrs. Emma

Roberson or Robertson, Mrs. J.W.     

Roberts, Pearl Mrs.

Rooms, Mrs. Myrtle

Rose, Martha

Ross, Mrs. Melvin

Scaggs, Chessie

Schockly, Mrs. Tinnie

Short, Willa

Smith, Mrs. C.L.(Maggie?) (1913)

Sparks, Mrs. E. W.

Spence, Mrs. H.N.

Stamphill, Myrtle

Stone, Myrtle

Steele, Edith

Stephens, Viola 

Stratton, Laura

Sutton, Anna

Taylor, Emma

Taylor, Ellen

Thornton, Margaret 

Townsend, Elsie

VanBrunt, Mrs. Dorothy

Varec, Iva

Wassom, Mrs. Della

Watt, Linnie

Weaver, Mrs. C.M (1929)

Wedel, Ello Lous

Wicks, Mildred

Wilbourn, Leeta

Williams, Mrs. W.A. (1913)

Wilkerson, Lucy.

Wilson, Clara (1929)

Wilson, Alice

Wilson, Mollie (1925)

Wright, Mrs. L.E.

York, Dolly (1910)

York, Mrs. W.C.

Summary
A survey of the conference rolls for the regions of Oklahoma and Kansas 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 Oklahoma and Kansas are identified adding to the rich history emerging of women in the Pentecostal movement.
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 Pentecostal Holiness Church, 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?[12] 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?

[1]  The first pastor of the author was the Rev. Sallie Mae Flippin, Wellington Pentecostal Holiness Church, Kansas (1960). Her second  pastors were  Evelyn and Bill Thompson,  Wellington.  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.
[2]Lee, Joyce and Glenn Gohr.  Women in the Pentecostal Movement” Women in Ministry, Assembly of God U.S.A. accessed at http://womeninministry.ag.org/history/index.cfm on 4/18/2006. Provides a good chronology of notable women leaders and photos of many of them.
[3]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.
[4]Blumhofer, Edith, The Assemblies of God: A Popular History (Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 1985) 137.
[5] Hudson, Marilyn A., “In Christ: An Exploration of the Egalitarianism of Galations”, unpublished paper, Southwestern College of Christian Ministries, 1989.
[6]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.
[7] Year Book of the Annual Conferences of the Pentecostal Holiness Church; Also Missionary Facts and Figures, 1929.  Franklin Springs, Georgia: Publishing House of the P.H.C.; Year Book of the Pentecostal Holiness Church, 1939. Franklin Springs, Georgia: Publishing House of the Pentecostal Holiness Church.
[8] 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 Southwestern School in Oklahoma.
[9] Wilson, Alice. “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                                           
[10] Year Book of the Annual Conference..., the 1930 issue reads for O.C. Wilkins  “1909", but the next and all subsequent years read “1910".
[11] “Sister A.I. Shannon, Pioneer Holiness Preacher Passes”, East Oklahoma Conference News, ( March 1944) 8 and the  Kansas register in the Minutes of the Annual Conference of the Pentecostal Holiness Church., 1931.
[12] 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].

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