Friday, March 3, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - Evangelist Phoebe Worrall Palmer (1807-1874)

Phoebe Worrall Palmer (1807-1874) Born Phoebe Worrall on Dec. 11, 1807 in NYC to devout Methodist parents. In 1827, she married Walter Clarke Palmer, a 24 year old physician who was also a devout Methodist. Palmer was an evangelist, author, & prayer warrior. She was instrumental in the founding of the American Holiness movement.


Phoebe Worrall Palmer (1807-1874)

Three of their 4 children died at a young age.  In 1840, Phoebe assumed leadership of the Tuesday Meeting for the Promotion of Holiness, & the attendance grew, drawing clergy & laity from many denominations. In this same year, she began speaking in public primarily at camp meetings, & for the next decade, she traveled alone while Walter remained in New York City to run his practice & their household. In the 1850s, Walter joined Phoebe on her trips, including a 4-year evangelistic tour of Great Britain, where their audiences often numbered in the thousands. Phoebe was also involved in urban work in the New York City slums, where she founded the Five Points Mission, an urban outreach center with a chapel, schoolroom, rent-free apartments, & numerous other social service programs. She was also an active editor & writer, editing the Guide to Holiness, a leading journal of the burgeoning holiness movement, publishing a number of books on topics, such as holiness & women’s right to speak in public.  She wrote a book entitled “The Promise of the Father” which advocated women in leadership.


Phoebe Worrall Palmer (1807-1874)

From Phoebe Palmer, Promise of the Father. Boston, 1859 

“Earnest prayers, long fasting, and burning tears may seem befitting, but cannot move the heart of infinite love to a greater willingness to save. God’s time is now. The question is not, What have I been? or What do I expect to be? But, Am I now trusting in Jesus to save to the uttermost? If so, I am now saved from all sin.” 

“[W]e have never conceived that it would be subservient to the happines, use­fulness, or true dignity of woman, were she permitted to occupy a prominent part in legislative halls, or take a leading position in the orderings of church conventions.”

“And is it in religion alone that woman is prone to overstep the bounds of propriety, when the impellings of her Heaven-baptized soul would lead her to come out from the cloister, and take positions of usefulness for God?”

“Who would restrain the lips of those whom God has endued with the gift of utterance, when those lips would fain abundantly utter the memory of God’s great goodness?”

“The Christian churches of the present day, with but few exceptions, have im­posed silence on Christian woman, so that her voice may but seldom be heard in Christian assemblies.”

"It is not our aim in this work to suggest, in behalf of woman, a change in the social or domestic relation. We are not disposed to feel that she is burdened with wrong in this direction. But we feel that there is a wrong, a serious wrong, affectingly cruel in its influences, which has long been depressing the hearts of the most devotedly pious women. And this wrong is inflicted by pious men, many of whom, we presume, imagine that they are doing God service in putting a seal upon lips which God has commanded to speak. It is not our intention to chide those who have thus kept the Christian female in bondage, as we believe in ignorance they have done it. But we feel that the time has now come when ignorance will involve guilt..."