Strangers & Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845

By Catherine A. Brekus | Go to book overview

3
Female Laborers in the Harvest

Female Preaching in the Early Nineteenth Century

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. -- Matthew 9:35-38

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel.-- Philippians 4:3

In September of 1795 at the Yearly Meeting of Freewill Baptists in Edgecomb, Maine, Sally Parsons delivered a "most Marvelous & soul ravishing Relation" of her "travail thro[ugh] & deliverance from Great Tryals." Like many of the other people in attendance that day, Parsons had experienced both the joys of conversion and the "tryals" of trying to overcome sin, but she had also borne crosses that were distinctly her own. Disowned by her father because of her belief in free will, she was alone and

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