In this blog post, we are going to discuss women in ministry. Especially we will focus on the Topic: “Role of women in the Missionary Movement”
The Origin of Christian Women in Ministry
The origins of what came to be called the women’s movement are generally traced to Olympe de Gouges’ declaration of The Right of Women, brought out in France in 1789.
Women first began to enter into a trade-in England in the sixteen and seventeen centuries. In the seventeenth century, there were three women to every man in the woolen industry and many women were employed in the silk industry.
Toward the inclusiveness of women, it was also discussed during the Elizabeth period, but unfortunately, it was not in process.
However, only in 1792, a book has written by Mary Wallstoncraf concerning women’s rights and through this book, she mentioned or proposed for the equality and respect of both men and women in any community.
With the book of Mary gradually the ideas grew into social and political movements in Britain and the United States and later on it develop the organization of movement. The movement organization began first was “the Anti-Slavery Movement.”
The anti-slavery movement especially in the northern part of the young United States. It was an organized movement by the Christian women who began from the Church.
The movement formed was to protect women from various slavery types in the family or society in and outside the community.
The anti-slavery movement organized later on in the country such as Philadelphia, also existed in New York, Ahio, Indiana, etc.
In 1837, the first anti-slavery convention of American women was held in New York City. From that onward the women have been trained to stand it selves to smooth the function of the movement
Women missionary society
The origin of women’s missionary organization began in 1800. It was formed by Mary Webb and fourteen Baptist and congregational friends.
Their primary activities were prayer and fundraising for the cause of the mission. At first, the missionary works only within the state, i.e. United States. However, the mission spread over the world, especially in China and India.
With this establishment, the result comes equality sharing in any aspect of the gender realm. Moreover, it has established different places of sub-organization of women's society from the early period in missionary works.
From that, it comes to the later period during the period before the American Civil War the women taking part in full participation in the church.
The Women’s Rights
The women’s right was first held in the Seneca Fall, 19 July 1848. The rights of women were introduced by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and seconded by Frederick Douglas.
Through this speech/introduction for women’s equality and the right to vote to make history and important for the women’s movement. With that, a National Women’s Rights Association was organized in the year.
Since the women’s movement was involved in various parts such as education, literature, etc. as well.
The women took such a step is in order to penetrate toward the women’s struggle and empower their rights; so that the evil practices can vanish out in society or in religion in the name of gender.
Women’s movement in the twentieth Century
After a long journey of the women’s movement, in the twentieth century, the movement feminist movement was formed.
The feminist movement works against the struggle of women such as liberation, social, and theology. The liberal feminist is concerned mainly with civil rights, particularly for women.
Liberal Feminism sought women’s right to vote, moreover in order access to higher education in the fields such as law, medicine, and ministry to which women were deprived historically.
However, during the period of 1930–1960, it was not active due to the Second World War.
But the women’s movement did not come to an end, instead, the liberal feminists also focused on male control over women’s bodies and claim women’s right to reproductive self-determination, birth control, and abortion.
It also focused on women’s right to dignity and control over sexual possessions, against sexual harassment, wife battering, rape, and pornography which humanize women. In liberal, it also included an issue of lesbianism.
Feminist theology has begun to develop in different regions according to their own context. The purpose of feminist theology was to meet the need of that particular context because many women have been always under the oppression of patriarchy throughout history.
Some of the different theologies are European feminist theology, North American feminist theology, Latin American Feminist Theology, Asian Feminist Theology, etc.
Christian Women in Ministry in North East India (NEI):
Though the North-East part of India is mostly the tribal areas and patriarchal society (except Garo and Khasis in Meghalaya); but women are freely actively involved in the activities of the society.
Many educated women are actively involved in politics, government services, business enjoying an equal share of rights with their counterparts in many ways.
The role of women in the missionary movement especially in North East India (NEI) began in the 19th century by Eliza Brown Harriet Cutter from the American women missionaries.
Later on, a number of women served as missionaries in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, and the border of Arunachal Pradesh. Among the women who served as missionaries were not only married women but unmarried women who also participate in the so-called women’s movement.
Many of the women missionaries who served in NEI were set by missionary societies established by American Baptist women.
The American Baptist Women in Ministry
a. Contribution in NEI:
Most of the contribution o the women’s movement in NEI I concerning education to the tribal’s women moreover some o they were involved in medical, evangelistic and literature work, a training program in various basic aspect.
During that moment the American Baptist women missionaries, both wives and unmarried, were very active in the establishment of women’s organizations within the Church and associations.
Missionary wives were among the most active in promoting the works first at the local church level and to the high level.
b. Anti-Slavery Movement:
Still 1820 and 1830 it was thought that women did not have any ideas of their own, apart from those of their fathers or husbands.
However, Christian women were beginning to play an important part in these reformed movements. By the 19th century, it was aware of political and social issues, especially religiously sensitive men and women.
In seeking to abolish slavery, women discovered women’s rights. In the bonds of slavery, they recognized their own bondage.
With this, the anti-slavery society formed firstly in the U.S. later on in Philadelphia, New York, as well as in the Michigan territory.
And the first anti-slavery convention of American women was held in New York in 1837. Continuation of the movement they equip various training in overseas.
c. Development of women’s movement
The development of the women’s movement began after the convention of Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. And Women’s Rights Convention was first held in 1848, Seneca Falls.
With that, it develops the Rights of women, the literature, the temperance movement, women’s organization, and the women’s missionary society, etc
The role of women in the Church
a) Leadership Roles:
The roles of women in the church have been limited in most societies. Female has been educating and trains toward various aspects but positions in the higher level are denied to them.
Therefore in one sense, the participation of women in the lead roles both in local churches and in the association is limited, but not at all in the society. For E.g. Luke Rongphar has pointed out that “women can preach, teach, and lead many programs and activities.”
However, he also mentioned mentioning the exclusion of women in the higher passions. But the church or the society may not think in the name of gender or patriarchal domination.
b) Women in the Local Church:
Narola Imchen had stated, “the church is strong where the women group is strong and weak where the women are weak.” It’s believable and truly she mentioned.
The evident at my local church, women can go a carol singing for the whole night but men and the youth are cannot, comparing with them. On the other hand, right after the general servicewomen can hold a women’s service, and sometimes they use to have a home service program as well.
So women are not only active on those part but they play a very active role in fundraising for the many projects the church take up.
In the Modern period, the women’s movement has been formed various organizations with different approaches to bring gender equality for peace and harmony in every community, therefore the women focus on the one aspect that is women’s studies.
Women were placed in the program and department in some theological colleges like Eastern Theological college and UTC, etc., with particular aims, scope, and methods for the study of women.
E.g. UTC, make a program on women studies with the aims of understanding the dynamics of patriarchy in the structures and relations of family, church, and society, in order to work towards its dismantling (abeng achet); to contribute to constructs and actualizing the holistic vision of the world, base on the partnership between women and men, with God and creation, etc.
Women’s movement exists from the suffering in the family or a group of people and society. The rights of women overseas raise the voice and stand by Christian women.
The voice is to bring the meaning of human societies and the completeness of Cod’s creation. In the beginning, God created man, but man alone is not good, needs a helper.
Therefore God formed a woman and said it was good. Women’s movement was formed by the Church’s women, but women alone are not good they need the helper i.e. men than only the creation will complete and fulfill.