Should Women Preach and Teach? Grimke sisters
Updated: May 16, 2022
Angelina Grimké and Sarah Moore Grimké are two women preachers from the 1800s. To defend their role they quoted Jesus, "You (all people) are the light of the world".
Sarah Grimke visited Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1819 and met Quakers, Christians who were working against slavery and who allowed women to be preachers and leaders. Sarah and Angelina moved to Philadelphia and became members of anti-slavery groups, speaking out against the treatment of African Americans. They adopted their black nephew, who was the offspring of their brother and a black slave woman. In 1836 Angelina published an anti-slavery booklet called "An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South, and Sarah published one called "Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States." The General Association of Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts did not like their writings and disagreed with them giving speeches in front of men, and wrote a public statement to discredit the Grimke sisters.
During the Grimke sisters' tour of New England in 1836-37, they spoke to well over forty thousand people, teaching both men and women. In 1837 Angelina wrote Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States and in 1838 Sarah wrote Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women.
In 1868 Sarah became vice president of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. She later led a group of women in Boston to vote even though it was against the law.
These sisters were Christians, who believed that the Bible told them to speak, write, and teach about equality for blacks and for women. They advocated against slavery and for the vote.
My upcoming novel, Forgotten Followers: from Broken to Bold, tells the stories of two women eyewitnesses of Jesus who become disciples, patrons, and apostles. It shines the light on every woman who interacted with Jesus in the Gospels, many of whom have been remembered only for their faults, whose roles were minimized, or who have been forgotten altogether.
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(Photo Credit: The Complete Guide to the Bible by Stephen M. Miller published 2007)