Another Great Awakening and the Power of Women in Ministry

“The enthusiasm with which black women of all educational backgrounds and ages claimed their right to theological interpretation was characterized by Virginia Broughton as part of the ‘general awakening and rallying together of Christian women’ of all races.”

Righteous Discontent, page 127.

With the readings of this week, I couldn’t help but reflect on something I learned in history classes. There is the idea that women are, though not always recognized as such, the forerunners of revolutions, and the backbone that holds up a society’s ideals. The reason for this is simple enough: (most) women have and raise children, and they raise their children with the ideals, values, and morals they wish to exist in the future of society. Christian women, therefore, raise their children to be good Christians, living Christ-like lives, and spreading the Word of God.

Virginia Broughton and Mary Cook discussed these ideas in their writings and speeches. They talked about motherhood, wifehood, sisterhood, and daughterhood. All these different roles women had, and were able to wield influence in. I really enjoyed this reading, because it made me reflect on things that I’d never considered before. The idea of Eve coming from Adam’s rib, symbolizing women as man’s companion, close to their side and heart. Eve was not of his head or feet, subjugating and subordinating women to the “power” of man. The idea of women’s relationships with Jesus was also intriguing. No women, Broughton and Cook explained, had betrayed Jesus. And women had the “unique capability to cleanse immorality, indecency, and crime.” God had used women in every capacity in the Bible, and most importantly, chose a woman to carry and mother His son, Jesus. Mary, mother of Jesus, exemplifies the faithful Christian woman.

Women were able to use their roles in society to reinterpret theology, and the act of theologizing became “not limited to formally trained male clergy.” Women spoke out in conferences, wrote, and shared their voices with the country. They also focused on the “feminine power” of Christ, and that there was the emerging idea of double gender consciousness, expanding on ideas of WEB Du Bois’s double consciousness. There was another great awakening, this movement of femininity in Christianity, and the power of women within the church. 

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham closed out the chapter with an idea that seems quite powerful. She said, “The feminist theologians had operated ‘from a stance of ‘radical obedience’.’ And indeed it was this vantage of orthodoxy that compelled the brethren to listen.” The women of this movement realized that more would be accomplished if they both took a stance for what they believed in, and remained within the lines of society. It just shows that some battles are won, some are lost, but thankfully, in the end, their efforts paid off and (most) branches of Christianity see the whole sphere of their religion, inclusive of gender, race, and everyone who shows a belief in Jesus.

This links to an article discussing WEB Du Bois’s views on African-American women.

“At the 2015 conference of the American Sociological Association, five eminent scholars of W.E.B. Du Bois came together to discuss his works and his contributions to sociology. This essay has been adapted from the ASA panel discussion. ” 


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