"[Walker] traces the career of Emma Newman, the first woman licensed to preach by the Congregational Church. Newman's work took her from Boston in 1883 to Kansas and ultimately to California, where she died in 1922. With access to detailed diaries and 90 sermons, Walker examines both the theological and personal elements of Newman's ministry. . . . This book is both a vivid glimpse into the female ministry of the era and an inspiring biography."—Library Journal
A devout Congregationalist, Emma Newman felt called to preach and perform pastoral work in the frontier regions of Illinois and Kansas following the Civil War. She overcame obstacles to secure a license to preach, obtain formal ordination, and establish a congregation of her own.
In this book, Randi Walker illustrates how Emma Newman’s life and career took her to an “American West” that was, in general, more receptive to women’s professional aspirations. The vast, sparsely populated landscape modified traditional gender roles and relationships and demanded of all its inhabitants an entrepreneurial spirit. Social conventions restricting women’s religious activity were less firmly entrenched than in the East. And because the geography isolated men and women, minister from denomination, and minister from her people, it provided freedom for women to engage in pastoral work and break the barriers keeping them from the pulpit and ordination.
Walker draws on Emma Newman’s diaries and correspondence and studies American frontier religion to chart Newman’s career and steady persistence.
Randi Jones Walker is associate professor of church history at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. She is also an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Protestantism in the Sangre de Christos.
Series: Women and Gender in Religion
6 x 9, 224 pages