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Mailing Address
2121 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60201

Phone: (847) 866-3900
Toll-Free: (800) SEMINARY
Fax: (847) 866-3884

Our History

Garrett-Evangelical is the result of the interweaving of three institutions:

  • Garrett Biblical Institute, the first Methodist seminary in the Midwest, was established in 1853 by largely the same church people who founded Northwestern University. Its founders hoped that the school would shape mind and spirit toward an educated ministry.

  • The Chicago Training School, established in 1885, was an important force for women in ministry and for developing service agencies throughout Chicago. Chicago Training School merged with Garrett Biblical Institute in 1934.

  • Evangelical Theological Seminary, located in Naperville and founded as a seminary of the Evangelical Church (later the Evangelical United Brethren) in 1873, joined with Garrett Theological Seminary in 1974 to form Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

These institutional histories live on in our core values of critical and creative reason, evangelical commitment, and prophetic participation in society. We invite you to learn more about Garrett-Evangelical's legacy in the tabs below.

Born of Mergers

Eliza Clark Garrett

Eliza Garrett, the wife of Chicago mayor Augustus Garrett, became convinced of the need for better training for Methodist preachers. In her will, made out in early December 1853, she left a considerable inheritance for the founding of a biblical institute. A meeting was held in Chicago on December 26, 1853, at which a group of Methodist leaders invited John Dempster to come to Chicago and organize the institute. Eliza Garrett''s will and this organizational meeting are the basis for the date of 1853 as the founding of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (then named Garrett Biblical Institute).


Garrett Biblical Institute, Evanston, Ill. Circa 1923.

In the early 1960s, Garrett Biblical Institute changed its name to Garrett Theological Seminary. It became Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1974 when it merged with Evangelical Theological Seminary, Naperville, Ill., to form one seminary (see below).


Chicago Training School, 4949 Indiana School. Circa 1895.

Having flourished in the 1920s, Chicago Training School (CTS) and Garrett Biblical Institute (GBI) faced hard times in the 1930s. In March 1934, the trustees of both institutions voted to bring the Training School into GBI. The integration of CTS meant that the scope of Garrett''s vision for training Christian leaders expanded to include leaders of church-based instutitions for the betterment of social conditions and significant numbers of women.

Chicago training school

Administrative building of Evangelical Theological Seminary, Naperville, Ill. Circa 1913.

In 1968, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged to form the United Methodist Church, thus leaving the newly-formed denomination with two seminaries in close proximity to Chicago. The 1972 General Conference mandated the merger of the two seminaries, and in 1974 it was agreed that Evangelical Theological Seminary and Garrett Theological Seminary would form a merged seminary on the Evanston campus. In order to embrace the traditions of both institutions, the merged seminary was named Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

A Brief History

This brief history, written by former Garrett-Evangelical President Dr. Ted A. Campbell, provides newcomers to the seminary a sense of its historical evolution and is grounded in some of the documentary histories of the seminary’s predecessor institutions.

The Founding of Garrett Biblical Institute

The Methodist Episcopal Church had been founded at the “Christmas Conference” in Baltimore in 1784. The new American church relied on strong lay leadership in local societies and on itinerant elders who traveled wide circuits. At first, elders were trained in a kind of apprenticeship supervised by other elders in annual conferences. This system eventually coalesced into a formal “course of study” for elders, with a specified list of textbooks prescribed in the denomination’s Discipline. Although there is evidence that the course of study maintained high standards of training, there was also a strong prejudice against formal theological education; even the term “seminary” was suspected by many Methodists. Consequently, the first Methodist institutions for training clergy served to supplement the prescribed course of study and took the name “biblical institute” rather than “seminary.” The very first of these was the Newbury Biblical Institute, founded at Newbury, Vermont, in 1839. This institution was the predecessor of Boston University School of Theology, and its first president was a Methodist elder and an advocate of clergy education, John Dempster.

In 1831, 40 years after the death of John Wesley, Methodists founded a society in the village of Chicago. This society, the Clark Street society, eventually became Chicago’s First United Methodist Church. Within its membership were early settlers Eliza Clark Garrett and her husband, Chicago mayor Augustus Garrett. Eliza Garrett had become convinced of the need for better training for Methodist preachers. In her will, made out in early December 1853, she left a considerable inheritance for the founding of a biblical institute. A meeting was held in Chicago on December 26, 1853, at which a group of Methodist leaders invited John Dempster to come to the Chicago area and organize the institute. Eliza Garrett’s will and this organizational meeting are the basis of the date 1853 for the founding of the seminary.

The group of friends that organized this biblical institute was in fact the original nucleus of settlers of Evanston, Illinois. They organized a Methodist society in Evanston (in 1854) that became the First United Methodist Church there. They also planned the building of Northwestern University there. In 1854 a building (Dempster Hall) was constructed for the biblical institute on the shores of Lake Michigan in Evanston, and it was opened on January 1, 1855. The State of Illinois granted a charter to Garrett Biblical Institute on February 15, 1855. These two events are the basis for the year 1855 being given as the founding date of the institution in older seals of Garrett Biblical Institute. In the next year the institution was transferred from the estate of Eliza Garrett to the trustees of the institute. On this occasion Eliza Garrett’s attorney Grant Goodrich gave a charge to the trustees expressing Eliza Garrett’s wishes in founding the institute. The “Semi-Centennial” of the institute in 1906 took this event in 1856 (the transfer of the seminary to its trustees) as its founding date.

Garrett Biblical Institute grew in the ensuing years. Like the Newbury Biblical Institute on which it was patterned, the institution’s three-year curriculum supplemented the denomination’s prescribed course of study with a particular focus on biblical learning, including instruction in Greek and Hebrew. Students could elect either a diploma program or a more extensive Bachelor of Divinity degree program. Bishop Matthew Simpson was serving as the second president of the institute when he preached the eulogy at Abraham Lincoln’s burial in Springfield, Illinois, on May 4, 1865.

In 1867 a large new building, Heck Hall, was dedicated for the Institute. The famous Chicago fire of 1871 destroyed some property in Chicago owned by the institute through the bequest of Eliza Garrett, and the institute suffered for several years due to lack of rental funds from this property. After recovery from this disaster, the institute built a new building, Memorial Hall, dedicated in 1887. This was the institute’s primary building until 1924 when the present Gothic structure was dedicated and Memorial Hall was sold to Northwestern University.

The Founding of Union Biblical Institute

Evangelistic preaching and an adaptation of Methodist polity gave rise to similar institutions among German-speaking people in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The followers of Jacob Albright became organized as a separate denomination, the evangelische Gemeinschaft or “Evangelical Association” in the early 19th century. By the middle of the 19th century leaders of the Evangelical Association were discussing the need for institutions for the education of preachers. They faced much of the same resistance as English-speaking Methodists faced, including resistance to the term “seminary.”

In 1837 a group of German settlers in the Naperville, Illinois, area formed a society of the Evangelical Association that would become Community United Methodist Church there. In 1870 a small college of the Evangelical Association moved to Naperville from Plainfield, Illinois, and this school would become North Central College. The 1871 General Conference of the Evangelical Association adopted a resolution calling for the establishment of a biblical institute, and on March 13, 1873, the State of Illinois granted a charter for the Union Biblical Institute in Naperville. The institute was organized as an adjunct to the college in Naperville and held its first classes in 1876. In August 1877, it was formally opened by Bishop J. J. Esher. One of its first faculty members, F. W. Heidner, was an 1863 graduate of Garrett Biblical Institute and is thought to have been the first seminary-trained pastor in the Evangelical Association. Like Garrett Biblical Institute, the Union Biblical Institute sponsored both a diploma program and a Bachelor of Divinity degree program. The name of the Institute was eventually changed to Evangelical Theological Seminary. A separate building for the seminary was dedicated in 1913 and still stands on the campus of North Central College.

The Founding of the Chicago Training School for City, Home and Foreign Missions

Chicago in the late 1800s was a city of hope and despair. European immigrants had arrived by the thousands; the meat-packing industry was flourishing; the first skyscrapers were arising from the ashes of the great fire; Upton Sinclair would soon describe conditions in the city in his novel The Jungle; and evangelist D. L. Moody had become the voice of a new phenomenon in American religious life, namely, urban revivalism. It was in this context that a Methodist laywoman (and associate of Moody), Lucy Rider Meyer, called for a new vision of Christian leadership, a ministry of women who were eventually recognized as deaconesses, ministering to the needs of the city. In 1885 she and her husband convinced a group of Chicago Methodists to endorse the organization of a training school, the Chicago Training School for City, Home and Foreign Missions, and they began raising funds for the new school.

The Chicago Training School opened in October 1885 at 19 W. Park Avenue with four students. In the next year the institution was incorporated and moved into a new building at 114 Dearborn Avenue inside the Chicago Loop. The school grew through the later years of the nineteenth century under Meyer’s leadership. In 1896 it moved into a larger building at the corner of Indiana Avenue and 50th Street in the Hyde Park area. By 1910 the school had 256 students. Lucy Rider Meyer’s failing health (she died in 1922) led to the appointment of a new president, Louis F. Lesemann, in 1917. In the 1920s students from the Chicago Training School took some of their courses at the University of Chicago nearby. The school brought in a faculty member, Murray Leiffer, who had graduated from Garrett Biblical Institute and was pursuing a doctorate in the nascent field of sociology at the University of Chicago.6

The Union of the Chicago Training School and Garrett Biblical Institute

Both the Chicago Training School and Garrett Biblical Institute flourished in the 1920s. It was in this decade that Garrett built the Gothic structure that remains the main seminary building and was then considered “the pride of the North Shore.” It was dedicated in 1924, the same year in which Chicago’s First Methodist Church moved into the Chicago Temple.7 The building had just been dedicated when the school celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1926.8 Although one professor of Old Testament had been forced to resign in the late 19th century due to his espousal of modern biblical criticism, Garrett Biblical Institute developed in the early 20th century a reputation for openness to modern thought both in biblical studies and in theology.

Both the Chicago Training School and Garrett Biblical Institute faced hard times in the 1930s. The Depression sent the value of Garrett’s Chicago properties plummeting, and the rental income from these properties had been, in effect, Garrett’s endowment through previous decades. The seminary had assumed debt for its new buildings, and in 1932 could not pay for them. The buildings and surrounding property were sold at Sheriff’s auction in 1932. Northwestern University purchased the property and graciously leased it back to the seminary for one dollar per year. This arrangement, which was made by contract for one hundred years renewable at the request of the seminary for another hundred years, remains in effect today.

The Chicago Training School faced difficulties in recruiting students and in raising funds for the institution in the 1930s. In March 1934 the trustees of the Chicago Training School and Garrett Biblical Institute voted to bring the Training School into Garrett Biblical Institute, and in the fall of that year three faculty members, one secretary and twenty-one students from the Training School came to the Garrett campus in Evanston.9

The integration of the Chicago Training School meant that the scope of Garrett’s vision for training Christian leaders had expanded to include leaders of church-based institutions for the betterment of social conditions and significant numbers of women. A Ph.D. program had been instituted in conjunction with Northwestern University in 1930, and this program further expanded the seminary’s program into the preparation of seminary and college faculty members. The service of Dr. Georgia Harkness as professor of applied theology (1939-1950) signaled the expansion of Garrett’s vision by including women faculty members.

Although Garrett Biblical Institute had African American students from as early as the 1880s, the racial and ethnic diversity of the institution increased notably from the 1950s. The seminary invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to serve on its faculty in 1958, but King eventually decided that the struggle for civil rights in the South demanded his attention.10 The service of Dr. Grant Shockley (1959-1966) marked the inclusion of African-American faculty members, and the seminary began to work deliberately to attract African-American students and faculty members. This occurred despite the fact that the 1939 union of the Methodist Episcopal Church with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church had forced African-American congregations of the Methodist Church into a racially segregated Central Jurisdiction.

The Union of Evangelical Theological Seminary and Garrett Theological Seminary

The 1968 merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church to form the United Methodist Church left the denomination with two theological seminaries in close proximity in the Chicago area. By that time, Garrett Biblical Institute had taken the name “Garrett Theological Seminary.”11 The 1972 General Conference of the United Methodist Church mandated the merger of the two Chicago-area seminaries, and negotiations began between Evangelical Theological Seminary and Garrett Theological Seminary by way of a Consultation Task Force that included seminary trustees, faculty members, administrators, and students. The task force agreed on a plan to form a merged seminary using the Evanston campus, and in the fall of 1974 Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary opened as a newly-merged seminary.

After the merger in the 1970s the Center for the Church and the Black Experience became a central facet of the seminary’s life, working to attract black students and faculty members. A very distinctive faculty structure, the parity committee, served to mediate any contested issue involving race facing the faculty by referring the issue to a committee composed of equal numbers of African-American and non-African-American faculty members. At the same time, the rising prominence of women faculty members, especially Dr. Rosemary Radford Ruether (who served from 1976 through 2002), and increasing numbers of women students brought Garrett-Evangelical a reputation as a center for feminist Christian thought. During the 1970s and 1980s the seminary encouraged the development of a women’s center and centers for Asian and Hispanic ministries.

A number of important developments have occurred since the 1980s. In the late 1980s the development of the office of diaconal minister and then the order of deacon (as a permanent order in ministry) in the United Methodist Church led the seminary to develop an extensive program of training for diaconal ministers and deacon candidates. In 1992 the faculty of the seminary adopted a statement of mission and purpose, affirming three core values of evangelical commitment, creative and critical reason, and prophetic participation in society. The trustees of the seminary affirmed this by incorporating the mission and values statement into the seminary’s bylaws. The seminary adopted a strategic plan in 2001, laying out six strategic goals of attracting highly qualified men and women to Christian leadership, develop-ing new scholarship resour-ces, building stronger connec-tions to churches, commun-icating more effectively with churches and other consti-tu-encies, expanding and enhancing educational programs, and restoring physical facilities. In the year 2002 Garrett-Evangelical and Chicago Theological Seminary joined other seminaries of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools in moving to a semester-based academic calendar.

Garrett-Evangelical’s Recent Past

In 1998, following discussions with faculty members and administrators, the trustees of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary adopted a statement of core purpose. According to the new statement, the purpose of the seminary is

To know God in Christ and, through preparing spiritual leaders, to help others know God in Christ.

This statement offers an appropriate coda to the story told here. When Garrett Biblical Institute and Union Biblical Institute were formed in 1853 and 1873, respectively, their focus was almost solely on the formation of Euro-American men to serve as elders in the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Association. The vision of the seminary has evolved and expanded in the ensuing years with the growing inclusion of women in ministry, with the expansion of the racial and cultural breadth of the seminary’s faculty and student body, and with the expansion of the idea of Christian leadership as embracing a wide variety of gifts for ministry and forms of ministry in the churches. What has remained consistent through the histories of Garrett Biblical Institute, Evangelical Theological Seminary and the Chicago Training School has been an unwavering, core commitment to the formation of Christian leaders. Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary takes great pride in this history as we celebrate 150 years of preparing spiritual leaders.

In the new millennium, Garrett-Evangelical brought a renewed imagination and tireless commitment to theological education. Despite the financial turbulence of the Great Recession, the seminary saw enrollment increase by over twenty percent and worked to double the capital campaign gifts and pledges, surpassing $70 million of the $100 million goal. The seminary also led a major renovation of campus facilities, including Loder Hall, which received the LEED Gold certification for sustainable energy. Faculty positions were added in the fields of Wesley and United Methodist Studies as well as Global Christianity and World Religions, while another faculty chair, the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation, was fully endowed.  During this time a renewed emphasis was given to strengthening the Center for the Church in the Black Experience and broadening the school’s reach through online learning. Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary takes great pride in this history as we celebrate 160 years of preparing spiritual leaders.

by Ted A. Campbell, president, 2001-2005

Chicago Training School

“Toward the Light”: Lucy Rider Meyer and the Chicago Training School [1] 
by Laceye Warner

“But, I do believe the world is swinging toward the light.” Lucy Rider Meyer


Methodist Episcopal Deaconesses trained by Lucy Rider Meyer at the Chicago Training School witness to aspects of their Wesleyan tradition within the late nineteenth-century American context in a number of ways.  The M.E. Deaconess literature demonstrates the women’s depth of vocation in that they were not only converted to the cause of the Deaconess movement, but also transformed as servants of the gospel, demonstrating evidence of sanctification in their own lives. M.E. Deaconesses trained by Lucy Rider Meyer at the Chicago Training School at times maintained emphases related to the realization of the reign of God through evangelization that received influence from late nineteenth-century theological trends.  Specific references to Wesley are difficult to find and particularities of language used by Wesley echo only occasionally in material related to the M.E. Deaconess movement under Meyer’s leadership.  However, Lucy Rider Meyer and M.E. Deaconesses contribute to the reshaping of the Wesleyan tradition within the nineteenth-century through their embodiment of the Wesleyan doctrinal emphases such as sanctification and their perspectives on the reign of God, which will be discussed in the initial sections of this presentation.  The M.E. Deaconesses trained by Lucy Rider Meyer crossed socio-economic barriers to minister to a variety of disenfranchised such as the infirm, orphaned, aged, and destitute.  The final section of this presentation will focus on the M.E. Deaconesses’ work with immigrant communities in Chicago to demonstrate an aspect of these women’s contribution to a nineteenth-century embodiment of the American Wesleyan heritage.

Lucy Rider Meyer and the Chicago Training School: Bearers of the Wesleyan Tradition
The language of Deaconess has precedent within the ministry and writing of John Wesley who followed a long but scattered line of Western European clergy interested in women’s diaconal ministries.  Wesley suffered somewhat for his endorsement of the Deaconess role.  In eighteenth-century England many perceived the Deaconess as basically an antiquated model of ministry, although with apostolic and patristic roots, which resembled a form of “papism.”  As a result of these prejudices the role of Deaconess was often suspect within Protestant Evangelicalism.   Lucy Rider Meyer and her spouse Josiah Shelley Meyer initiated the M.E. Deaconess movement.  The Meyers’ established The Chicago Training School in 1885.  The M.E. General Conference later recognized the role of Deaconess in 1888.  The M.E. Deaconess movement confronted similar suspicions. [2] 

While in Georgia, Wesley experimented with several religious practices modeled on the primitive church, all of which would develop into defining attributes of the Methodist movement in later years.  Wesley experimented with the use of hymns, lay leaders, extemporaneous prayer and preaching as well as the appointment of Deaconesses or sick visitors.[3]  Scholars such as Ted Campbell, Paul Chilcote, and Frank Baker refer to Wesley’s probable employment of women in the role of Deaconess while in Georgia.  However, as they claim, Wesley refrained from using the language of Deaconess to refer to such work.[4]  Wesley included practices and offices of the early church, such as the Deaconess in his early evangelistic plan, though he avoided the direct use of such a title.  The list of indictments against John Wesley immediately preceding his hasty departure from Georgia, included Wesley’s organization of women in ministry roles that resulted in, “all persons of any consideration [coming] to look upon him as Roman Catholic.”[5]  The indictments explicitly named the charge related to the women’s roles established by Wesley, “appointing Deaconesses, with sundry other innovations which he called Apostolic Constitutions.”[6]

In spite of Wesley’s experience in Georgia, he encouraged the role of sick visitor among women within the British Methodist movement.  In a letter to Vincent Perronet, December 1748, Wesley detailed the role of sick visitor as a part of his “Plain Account of the People Called Methodists.”  Wesley’s development of the role of sick visitor was modeled on the ministry of Phoebe mentioned in Romans 16.1, whose office Wesley described as a Deaconess in his Notes on the New Testament.  In his sermon, “On Visiting the Sick,” delivered initially on May 23, 1786, Wesley stated that the work of women among the sick was well known in the primitive church, “They were then termed ‘deaconesses,’ that is, ‘servants’—servants of the church and of its great Master.”  Interesting, Lucy Rider Meyer also calls upon this biblical foundation, among others, in her study of the texts in their original languages.  Although Meyer claims the language of deaconess, she argues that the term in Romans 16.1 ministrae, has been translated inadequately since in other uses when referring to men in the role it is translated as minister.  Thus, Phoebe should be described as a minister, rather than merely a servant, of the gospel.  Meyer also argues that with regard to the language of diakonia, the Greek does not specify a feminine form, namely deaconess, but describes male and female deacons.  This similarity in status indicated by the language of deacon to include both men and women implied by the biblical text and acknowledged by Meyer, was not realized in Methodism until 1956, and in the  Church of England until 1994.

Formation in Faith

The M.E. Deaconess movement embodied Wesleyan doctrinal emphases, such as sanctification, through the significance placed upon vocation within the movement.  Her Sunday school teacher led Lucy Rider to faith in Christ as a child.  As a young woman, she taught freedmen in a Quaker school located in Greensboro, NC.  According to her biographer, Isabelle Horton, Rider was motivated by a missionary spirit to engage in such an endeavor.  “The deep tragedy of a people so circumstanced made its appeal to a heart already sensitized, and strengthened the impulse to consecrate her life to service.”[7]  Shelley Meyer also describes his wife’s  spiritual journey, “Mrs. Meyer told me one Sunday afternoon how her faithful Sunday school teacher led her to Christ, when she was but a small child; and how, later, she went with her mother to the mid-week prayer meeting, and got up and gave her testimony.  How happy she was that evening!  Later, she experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit, which brought her the conviction that she must do something for others, and she went to North Carolina to teach in a Negro school, in a hostile community, under the Friends’ society.”[8] 

Similar to Lucy Rider Meyer, M.E. Deaconesses also possessed strong vocations to their ministry.  In the initial consecration service, at which Bishop Thomas Bowman presided in Chicago, 1888, Deaconess candidates were described as having received forgiveness for sins and the witness of the Holy Spirit.[9]  The training school provided a venue for the practical preparation of Deaconesses through the acquisition of skills, but also for the cultivation of the Deaconess candidates’ inner life.  “To work here we need those whose education is liberal, whose knowledge is broad, whose minds are cultivated, and above all whose hearts are full of the love and humility and sympathy of the Christ.”  The article concludes with the assertion of the need for the baptism of the Holy Spirit after the example of Christ. “Our training schools are modeled after this one nineteen hundred years ago [the life of Christ and calling of the disciples], the study of divine truth, trial mission work, the kindly criticism, the suggesting of plans and p laces of labor and the development of the inner life.”[10]  Such spiritual cultivation through the process of sanctification contributed to the M.E. Deaconesses’ ministry.  “Christ is so to live in you and me that we are to be his representatives.  In our gentleness and humility of spirit the world shall see Jesus.  In the character of our daily life there must be the very spirit and temper of Christ.”[11]  This experience of the process of sanctification shaped the vocation of M.E. Deaconesses to the full-time service of Jesus Christ and humanity.[12] 

The duties of the M.E. Deaconess are described in the consecration service: “You are to minister to the poor, visit the sick, pray with the dying, care for the orphan, seek the wandering, comfort the sorrowing, save the sinning, and relinquishing wholly all other pursuits, devote yourselves to such forms of Christian labor as may be suited to your abilities.”[13]  The forms of Christian ministry articulated in the M.E. Deaconesses’ duties represent works of mercy, a component of the process of sanctification outlined by John Wesley as a means of grace.[14]  Such works of mercy pursued by M.E. Deaconesses under the leadership of Meyer were not isolated from works of piety such as corporate worship, communal support, accountability, and private exercises such as prayer, bible study, and devotional reading.  Through the M.E. Deaconesses’ practice of works of mercy as a response to their vocation, which was initiated and sustained by prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace, these women served as bearers of the Wesleyan tradition in the context of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Chicago.

The Chicago Training School Curriculum

Lucy Rider Meyer demonstrated the importance of theological reflection and education for evangelistic ministry in the Chicago Training School’s curriculum and faculty. The curriculum provided by the Chicago Training School, under Lucy Rider Meyer’s leadership as principal, offered a generous variety of courses to late nineteenth century women seeking vocations in lay mission work. Although the course of study for Deaconess training in the Methodist Episcopal Church was not prepared by the Bishops until the 1896 General Conference, training was an essential element of the work from the beginning.  “While other missionaries may be trained--and a sentiment in favor of training for all is rapidly growing--but deaconesses must be trained.”[15]  The course of study developed in 1896 for use throughout the Methodist Deaconess movement was significantly informed by the curriculum established at the Chicago Training School, the first training school for Methodist Deaconesses in North America. 

A schedule published in an early issue of The Message, the periodical edited by Lucy Rider Meyer, demonstrates the emphasis of the curriculum, which was biblical, theological and historical studies occurring five times a week.  The critical study of the Bible implemented at the Chicago Training School ranked high in priority for Lucy Rider Meyer, serving as a major impetus behind her motivation to found the institution.[16]  An equal emphasis on studies in medicine and the practice of evangelistic visitation was also demonstrated by the schedule with each occurring twice a week.[17]  The dual focus of critical reflection upon scripture, theological and historical studies with practice in both medicine and evangelistic visitation within the curriculum indicates the thorough preparation provided for the Methodist Episcopal Deaconesses for the ministry with the urban poor.

From the establishment of the Chicago Training School its faculty consisted of two basic categories of instructors based on practical circumstances.  The first category of instructors, and the minority group throughout the school’s existence, was the “Resident Teachers.”  These instructors lived on the school’s premises and offered their courses receiving only room and board in the form of remuneration.[18]  These instructors, including Lucy Rider Meyer, usually consisted of women, with the exception of Josiah Shelley Meyer, Lucy Rider Meyer’s husband.[19]  The second group of instructors was described as “Outside Helpers.”   The majority of the visiting faculty members were men with the exception of a few women at any one time.  These non-resident instructors would volunteer their services in the way of offering courses at the Chicago Training School in addition to their professional careers as ministers, professors, nurses and physicians in the Chicago area.

Many of the outside helpers on the faculty were professors in theological institutions or religious departments such as Garrett Biblical Institute and the University of Chicago.[20] In addition to the contributions of respected scholars from the local academic community to the Chicago Training School, Lucy Rider Meyer assumed a prominent role in the formation of the Deaconesses.  Lucy Rider Meyer in particular offered her academic and pedagogical expertise in the fields of biblical studies (in which she was proficient in the texts’ original languages), methods of mission work, and medicine (she earned a M.D. from Woman’s College, Chicago in 1904).[21] Meyer was well educated having worked her way through Oberlin, and a respected and skillful teacher.  Therefore, it is not unexpected to see Meyer contributing to the curriculum as an instructor, in addition to her post as principal.

Realizing the Reign of God

M.E. Deaconesses led by Lucy Rider Meyer also embodied the Wesleyan tradition through their perception of and role in the realization of the reign of God.  According to Randy Maddox, although Wesley’s views have been interpreted to include the premillennial and amillennial, an argument for Wesley’s emerging postmillennialism, particularly within his more mature work, is viable.[22] Wesley understood the reign of God as a growing active presence and current reality through the work of the Holy Spirit in believers and the community of faith.  Lucy Rider Meyer, Josiah Shelley Meyer, and the Deaconess movement express a similar understanding, although evidence of specific millennial themes is difficult to substantiate.  The following material demonstrates the significance of the participation of believers in the realization of the reign of God on earth. 

The periodical of the Deaconess movement edited by Lucy Rider Meyer printed the following, most likely written by Meyer, shortly after the recognition of the Deaconesses as an official order within the Methodist Episcopal Church: “Thy kingdom come is our daily prayer, but do our actions indicate an earnest desire for its coming?  Are we helping to bring the nearing of the kingdom?”[23]  Shelley Meyer describes their work after his wife’s death as an “aid in establishing His Kingdom on Earth,” and offers a petition for God’s guidance to “never [fail] to find consecrated souls for His service until the last and least of earth’s ‘little ones’ shall feel the touch of Divine help and healing.”[24]  The reign of God is defined “in every day language” as “nothing but the consummation of neighborliness.”  This benign summary is prudently expanded upon.

Jesus, accepted as the Saviour from sin, as the Interpreter of life, forces his followers to put to themselves the decisive question—Do you believe, truly and with your whole heart, in the reign of God on earth?…Is it more than a bare conception which, from time to time, visits your brain? Is it a passion possessing your heart?  Is it a mighty conviction gripping and guiding your will?  If it is not all that, it is at best a halting, a crippled Christianity.[25] 

The church’s role in the realization of the kingdom of God on earth pervades the literature of the M.E. Deaconess movement.  The Chicago Training School propagated the Methodist Deaconess movement which eventually consisted of additional institutions such as training schools, Deaconess Homes, and other institutions for ministry to the disenfranchised such as hospitals, industrial schools, and homes for the orphaned and elderly.  Lucy Rider Meyer crafted the curriculum of the Chicago Training School with the pursuit of the reign of God as its aim:

So as she [Meyer] marked out the policy for the infant institution she had in mind not only a comprehensive study of the Bible but studies in hygiene, in citizenship, in social and family relations, in everything that could help or hinder in the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.[26]

The first Deaconess Home emerged from the summer use of the training school facilities in 1887, which would otherwise have remained vacant.  The nascent Deaconess Home was described as a “life germ” that shall grow waiting for the “showers of heaven” in the hope that the facility “may be used for the advance of the kingdom.”[27]  The M.E. Deaconesses pursued their ministry with fervent desire for the evangelization of the masses and even the world as a component of the realization of the reign of God on earth.  “The evangelization of the world within the lifetime of the middle-aged man living today is within easy reach of our effort.  It is not within easy reach of our indifference.”[28] This desire is expressed at times with an element of admonition, “[God] is pouring out His spirit on the people for this very thing and while it is glorious to live in this latter part of the nineteenth-century, it will be fearful if we ignore our duty.”[29]  A front page article entitled The Call of the Hour, reiterates the hope: “By every sign and signal God has shown the men of this generation that his purpose is the immediate evangelization of the world.”[30]  A methodology for accomplishing the evangelization of the masses is expressed in a later editorial:

How to reach the masses!  Estimating that at each visit of a deaconess five persons heard about Jesus and almost throwing in our Sunday school and hospital work, we reached five millions of the masses last year alone.  We healed their sick bodies.  We fed and clothed their hungry and naked children, and above all, we told them of Jesus, and we led many of them to Him.[31]

This excerpt makes bold assumptions about the constituency of the M.E. Deaconesses as well as their responsiveness to invitations to faith in Jesus Christ.  In spite of its boldness, the statement assumes the growing presence of the reign of God on earth through the Holy Spirit, in which the M.E. Deaconesses participate through their evangelistic ministries.

A thread of optimism pervades the M.E. Deaconesses’ participation in the reign of God, which is woven through the movement’s literature.  “How can anyone believe the world is growing worse, looking back to the great movements that the last century has inaugurated?”  The article names ten with the Deaconess movement at number nine and social reform at number ten.  Social reform referred to “the entire change that has been wrought in prison management, in temperance work and in the feeling among Christians of responsibility for the lapsed masses of our great cities.”[32]  An additional article focuses on the related theme of betterment, “Are You Becoming Better?” although reminiscent of philosophical as well as theological trends of the time: “The high philosophy which gets its light from God, believes that life, as it moves deeper and deeper into God, must move from richness into richness always.”[33]

Lucy Rider Meyer and the M.E. Deaconess movement was formed by eschatological emphases that assumed societal conditions would improve as the reign of God on earth increased through the work of the Holy Spirit and participation of Christian ministers in service to the world.  Later in the nineteenth-century postmillennial themes represented an older evangelicalism as eschatological distinctions led to increased tensions among theological perspectives.  For example, other Christian leaders embraced premillennial themes that became related to a conservative platform often affiliated with fundamentalism.  Lucy Rider Meyer and the M.E. Deaconess movement seem to maintain postmillennial emphases rooted in Wesleyan doctrinal foundations in the midst of the early stages of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy.

The Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy

Evidence of a polemic emerged in the middle of the nineteenth-century marked by the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species in 1848.  The ascension of liberal theology, biblical criticism, and evolutionary theory shaped the modernist movement.  The modernist platform emphasized the historicity and humanity of Jesus encouraging social reform for the alleviation of human suffering and systemic injustices.  Social reforms came to fruition through legislation, at times to the exclusion of individual spiritual formation.  In response to this trend of humanism the five points of fundamentalism were composed in Niagara at a gathering in 1895 of theologically conservative Protestants.  The five fundamentals included: inerrancy of scripture, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the virgin birth, a substitutionary theory of atonement, and the physical and bodily return of Christ.  The term fundamentalism derived from the series of tracts entitled The Fundamentals published 1910-1915.  Although both fundamentalists and modernists emphasized scripturally grounded values, tensions persisted into the twentieth century culminating in the fundamentalist-modernist split.   The excessive emphasis of opposing components resulted in the physical division of several Protestant denominations along theological and ideological lines, namely Baptist, Presbyterian, and Disciples of Christ.  However, as Jean Miller Schmidt argues, other groups such as churchwomen and African American reformers maintained the dialectic of soul winning and social holiness through the social gospel movement and into the twentieth century.[34]  Lucy Rider Meyer and the M.E. Deaconesses represent one such group.

Literature related to the M.E. Deaconess movement demonstrates interaction with supporters of both parties.  Mary Agnes Dougherty argues that the Meyers reflect the broader fundamentalist-modernist debate, Shelley sympathizing with fundamentalism, Lucy with modernism.  “In the case of the Meyers, the liberal and the conservative lived under the same roof; they worked together in the same place, ostensibly pursuing a shared goal.  For them, the fundamentalist-modernist dialogue could not help but grow personal.”[35]  William E. Blackstone, a major financial supporter of the M.E. Deaconess movement, participated in the Niagara Movement including writing a popular tract.  Blackstone and Lucy Rider Meyer exchanged intense correspondence regarding his disapproval of her endorsement of biblical criticism, which was taught, often by her, at the Chicago Training School.[36]  Horton describes in detail Meyer’s modernism, interest in social theory, and influences such as Borden Parker Bowne’s Personalism.[37]  However, she also admits that Meyer resembled Dwight L. Moody “in her ability to find a spiritual truth in the simplest experiences of life.”[38]  Based on a broader reading of Lucy Rider Meyer’s leadership within the M.E. Deaconess movement, her position seems more complex than simply ‘modernist’.  Meyer integrated strengths of both parties maintaining a balanced evangelistic ministry that addressed the spiritual and physical needs of the disenfranchised.[39] 

According to Dougherty, Mr. Meyer in his memoirs attributed the decline of the Chicago Training School after 1910 to the acceleration of modern views with regard to biblical interpretation: “At one time it looked as if the modern views of the ‘intellectuals’ would work a change in the School,” but “…the work of the School had to continue on the early foundation.”[40]  Dougherty’s portrayal of Mr. Meyer echoes Horton’s earlier assertions. Horton describes him as a conservative and a literalist.[41]  However, like Lucy Rider Meyer, Mr. Meyer’s platform was more nuanced.  Mr. Meyer argued in a paragraph preceding the above statement: 

Paul said in his writings that ‘knowledge puffeth up’.  The time had arrived when the conceit of ‘modern’ scholarship, attributed to the ‘better intellect’, set its authority above the inspiration of the Word.  Such teaching necessarily led to false conclusions in the minds of some of the students.  Modernism is the old Unitarian wims of doubt.  The Fundamentalists are the fighting cocks in the pulpit, they are both wrong.[42]

Mr. Meyer also claims, “Between the critic and the fanatic is often a very narrow and difficult path, but it can be found and maintained by the alert, praying Christian.”[43]  This narrow and difficult path seems more likely to constitute the early foundations of the school, than a conservative literalism related to fundamentalism.  Lucy Rider and Josiah Shelley Meyer, each in their own characteristic manner, maintained the dialectic between personal evangelical spirituality and participation in the growing presence of the reign of God through works of mercy shaped by social consciousness.

“Toward the Light”: M.E. Deaconess Ministry with Chicago Immigrant Populations

The M.E. Deaconesses provided numerous services to the disenfranchised including immigrant populations in the Chicago area.  Immigrants in Chicago originated from many places around the world such as Arabia, Bohemia, China, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Russia.  Immigrants were often captive to the systemic poverty within treacherously overpopulated urban neighborhoods throughout Chicago.  M.E. Deaconesses offered ministries of compassion to immigrants through visiting, nursing, employment counseling, resource groups for mothers, English language training, social reform advocacy, as well as industrial schools and Sunday schools for children.   At times subtexts of fear and prejudice, even among M.E. Deaconesses, contributed to negative stereotypes and the manipulation of evangelization into Americanization.  For the most part, however, the M.E. Deaconesses’ ministries dismantled barriers of class, race, and gender reshaping the Wesleyan theme of new creation on the background provided by the theological context of the time.

M.E. Deaconesses were described as “Simply women who are set apart for the whole lay work of the Church.”[44]  The following statement expresses the all-embracing character of the M.E. Deaconesses work giving perspective to the plight of immigrants in the late nineteenth- century.

Do not stop to ask where they [M.E. Deaconesses] are to find their work.  There are reformatories and poor houses, and orphanages, and there should be Methodist orphanages all over the land; there are prisons and hospitals, and ought to be Methodist hospitals in every part of the country; and there are immigrants and waifs, and Magdalens, and strangers that are being lost in the swirl of the great cities.[45]

M.E. Deaconesses confronted the struggles of immigrants regularly in their ministry.  “We visited twenty-one families today, and met with Germans, Bohemians, Jews and Canadians, many of them backslidden Christians.”[46]  Several articles within the M.E. Deaconess movement’s periodical describe the statistical enormity of the arrival of immigrants to the United States and Chicago specifically.  Meyer reports in September 1890, “In Chicago, this last decade, 300,000 foreigners have come to us besides the 204,000 we had before.”[47]  In 1903 a “high-water mark” was expected for total immigration to the United States with the likelihood of 900,000 new inhabitants.  “There are seventeen states of this Union, nineteen states of the German Empire, and six American rep [sic], each of which has fewer people than that all told.”[48]  These articles demonstrate the growing anxiety in response to immigration trends.

The M.E. Deaconesses cared for both the physical and spiritual well being of immigrant families.  Josiah Shelley Meyer tells of an immigrant family whose wife had fallen very ill and the husband could not work and take care of her.  A neighboring church reported the need and a M.E. Deaconess went to the family, sending the husband to work and nursing the wife eventually back to health after also putting the dilapidated house in order and providing food and other supplies.  After one week the wife was growing much better.  Before the M.E. Deaconess departed, the man asked who she was and why had she done this.  She assured him that he owed her nothing and tried to explain her “ideals of Christian service.”  To which he replied, “’Well, long ago I read in a book about some apostles.  You make me think of them.’ As she was leaving he called after her and asked if she attended a church.  She said she did and told him where.  When she arrived at the church the next Sunday morning the man was there in the vestibule, waiting for her.”[49]  The M.E. Deaconess, while providing for the physical needs of the suffering she encountered, also offered an evangelistic witness of love and compassion for the spiritual well being of persons.

The M.E. Deaconesses understood the significance of learning the immigrant’s language.  The Chicago Training School curriculum for the second year refers to the importance of language training: “Candidates preparing for work among foreign-speaking people at home or abroad, are recommended to make preparation in the language, etc., of those among whom they expect to labour.”[50]  Bishop Hurst endorsed language preparation among M.E. Deaconesses in an address published in the movement’s periodical.  “To win the immigrant to Christ we need to speak to him in his own language.  He should be able, as soon as he lands, to find a church in whatever tongue is native to him.”[51]  A clergyman addressing the M.E. Deaconess movement reiterates Bishop Hurst’s earlier argument while connecting the imperative to the reign of God. 

The kingdom of God demands such haste that we absolutely need deaconesses who also can speak the foreign languages among this class of Americans.  Speaking in a general way, it takes a German mind to fully understand a German’s ways of thinking: a German heart to feel a German’s needs; and a genuine German sympathy to awaken to its fullest measure the German’s affections and confidence; and at last, it takes a German understanding and tact to most successfully win the German with his mind, heart, sympathy, and all.  The same holds true of every other foreign speaking American on American soil.[52]

This clergyman added, “Methodism is today preaching the gospel in fifteen different languages.”[53]  In 1909, Deaconess Emogene Morse, a graduate of the Chicago Training School, ministered among the Polish community of South Chicago.

She boards in a Polish family and is diligently studying the language, while doing what she can to interest the people in the English-speaking church, under whose direction she works.  The Polish people, however, do not find here anything that is of their element, and of the children, even, only a few attend the Sunday School.  What is needed is a meeting place for the Poles themselves, with services in their own language.[54]

Through their language training, M.E. Deaconesses contributed to a denominational effort to minister to the growing immigrant population across the country. 

M.E. Deaconesses also provided language training in English to immigrants through night schools held at local missions.[55]  These schools provided needed assistance to adults and youth.  However, in the context of such English language programs prejudices formed by fear occasionally surfaced.  Immigrant populations were often attributed variable levels of desirability depending upon the source and date of the publication.  One response to the influx of immigrants to the United States was the necessity of Americanizing these vast numbers of persons. 

This decided change in the nationality of would-be Americans will beyond a doubt, exert the greatest influence on the character of the American people as a whole.  Deaconesses, city missionaries, teachers in public schools—in fact, all who are engaged in the great work of Americanizing this miscellaneous assortment of humanity, are pondering the question: How long before our capacity for receiving and assimilating these untrained peoples will be taxed to the utmost?[56]

At times there is a perceptible merging of Americanization and evangelization that results from the heightened anxiety that is occasionally evident in the M.E. Deaconess movement’s material: “How shall we Americanize them? How shall we Christianize them?”[57]  The aim of the M.E. Deaconess with regard to immigrants “is to civilize them and convert them.”[58]  Preventive measures were suggested as a response to the high rate of immigration and perceived need for Americanization. Two tasks were named in one article, “These are the examination of immigrants to ascertain whether they are capable of becoming Americans, and the proper distribution of those admitted.  It is not enough to keep out the diseased and the pauperized; it is essential to keep out the vicious and the degenerate.”[59]  Isabelle Horton narrates the response to immigration of one Methodist minister referring to a Chicago downtown church, “O, we can’t do anything here, except sell the church.  Why the district is filling up with foreigners and the American people are all moving out.”[60]  Horton challenges the denomination to address the needs of immigrants, otherwise she argues, “there will be little demand [for the church] by the middle of the century.”[61] However, even Horton seems at times to respond out of fear to the crisis she perceives when she also argues, “We must civilize them or they will heathenize us.”[62]

Americanization at its best sought to transform whole persons, albeit through the assimilation of the great masses of immigrant populations.  “The newcomer finds in America a prevalent atmosphere of freedom altogether different from his accustomed autocratic, restricted environment…He cannot escape contact with American social and political life.”[63]  The night schools also served as venues for speeches and political discussions educating the interested immigrant in the American political system.  From this perspective Americanization embodied some of the ideals, such as freedom and democracy, hoped for by the newly arrived citizen.  “The exercise of the right of suffrage helps along his Americanization.”[64]  The article referenced does not attempt to gloss over the underside of these ideals.  “True, he must meet the pernicious influences of the party boss, fraudulent naturalization papers, and venality at the polls, but above these rise the stimulating and Americanizing influence[s].”[65] 

As the M.E. Deaconess movement rooted in Chicago matured, fear in response to issues related to immigrant populations seemed to subside and advocacy increased.  The development of social theory influenced the M.E. Deaconesses responses by acknowledging systemic issues.[66]  The M.E. Deaconesses’ perception of immigrants held in tension their undesirability and victimization, and eventually shifted toward the latter.  “It requires no vivid imagination to understand how not only our own country suffers, but the poor, ignorant peasants are more frequently victimized by these consciousless money seeking creatures [European transport agencies].”[67]  The article advocates for greater awareness of immigrants’ victimization with allusions to missional themes.  “We are a nation with a mission.  God has given us great light and it behooves us to hold the torch high to all the world.”[68]  M.E. Deaconesses were eager to acknowledge and work for better conditions on behalf of immigrant populations.[69]  “In the deaconess order, properly directed and inspired, the church has an arm of power that can help it to reach the masses, and to solve their problems, in so far as they can be solved in one generation.”[70]  The M.E. Deaconesses, although well intentioned, more often worked on behalf of rather than with the disenfranchised populations.

Yet, M.E. Deaconesses advocated for the dismantling of social barriers from within their American Methodist tradition.  For example, M.E. Deaconesses advocated for social reforms to benefit female immigrants.  Nearly twice the numbers of immigrants, than American born women were employed in the early twentieth century.  Because of the significant number of employed immigrant women, mostly as domestic workers, M.E. Deaconesses advocated for social reform to increase awareness and improve the standards and conditions related to their work.[71]  M.E. Deaconesses also raised awareness with regard to the dismal conditions of tenement housing faced mostly by immigrant families.  Property owners, captive to their greed, exploited many urban poor at the risk of the tenants’ health.  Slackly enforced city ordinances allowed for excessive overcrowding with large families occupying one or two rooms often without adequate sunlight, ventilation, or plumbing.  M.E. Deaconesses argued that such inhospitable domiciles provided “a breeding place for disease and crime.”[72]  M.E. Deaconesses advocated for socio-economic justice of the lower classes through periodical articles, domestic visitation among the poor, and support of social reforms.


Lucy Rider Meyer and the M.E. Deaconesses she trained at the Chicago Training School maintained Wesleyan emphases such as the importance of the doctrine of sanctification and participation in the reign of God in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Chicago.  M.E. Deaconesses embodied the dialectic of evangelical and social themes as the fundamentalist-modernist controversy gathered momentum.  M.E. Deaconesses formed by Lucy Rider Meyer and the Chicago Training School, although at times influenced by prejudices shaped by fear, also worked to break down barriers of class, race, and gender through their services as teachers, nurses, and advocates of social reform.  M.E. Deaconesses gave witness to their Wesleyan roots while reshaping various aspects of that tradition through their work with immigrant communities, demonstrating compassion for the physical and spiritual well being of persons.  Although not without shortcomings, the M.E. Deaconesses’ ministries may offer a helpful resource informing the church’s response to similar theological and social dynamics in the contemporary context as we seek to embody a vital Christian and Wesleyan tradition for the present and future.   

[1]  This material grew from dissertation research and was adapted from a paper given at the Eleventh Oxford Institute, Christ Church, Oxford University, to the Nineteenth-Century Studies Group on August 16, 2002 and an article published in Methodist History “Towards a Wesleyan Evangelism,” (July 2002). 

[2] See Charles F. Bradley, “Woman and City Missionary Work,” The Message, (July 1887), 1; “First Deaconess Convention,” The Message, (October 1889), 7; Editorial, The Message and Deaconess Advocate, (October 1900), 8.  Although the denominational response to the Deaconess movement included anxiety related to similarities between the M.E. Deaconesses and Roman Catholic sisters, admiration was also expressed for the work of the Roman Catholic sisters particularly as nurses.  See Bishop Hurst, “On Woman’s work in the Church,” The Message, (March 1888), 1; “Women in the Churches,” The Message, (September and October 1888) 1; “Roman Catholic Charities,” Deaconess Advocate, (August 1903), 8.

[3] Paul Chilcote, John Wesley and the Women Preachers of Early Methodism, (Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1991), 22.

[4] Ted Campbell, John Wesley and Christian Antiquity, (Nashville: Kingswood Books, 1991), 34, 36, 74, 94-95; Chilcote, John Wesley and the Women Preachers of Early Methodism, 22, 23, 40, 68; Frank Baker, John Wesley and the Church of England, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1970), 45, 51, 355.

[5] Patrick Tailfer, True and Historical Narrative of the Colony of Georgia, (Charleston: n.p., 1741), quoted in Chilcote, John Wesley and the Women Preachers of Early Methodism, 40, n103.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Isabelle Horton, High Adventure: Life of Lucy Rider Meyer, (New York: The Methodist Book Concern, 1928), 35.

[8] J.S. Meyer, “Modern Miracles,” (unpublished memoirs, n.d.) 43.

[9] L. R. Meyer, Deaconesses Biblical, Early Church, European and American, 230.  Wesley referred to the forgiveness of sins as an essential aspect of the Christian life, specifically with regard to assurance of faith and salvation as a component of justification. See Randy Maddox, Responsible Grace, (Nashville: Kingswood Books, 1994), 124-127.  However, according to Wesley, justification was distinct from justifying grace.

[10] Miss Gregg, “Value of Training for Christian Workers,” The Message and Deaconess Advocate, (June 1894), 12. 

[11] “What are you going to be?” Deaconess Advocate, (October 1906), 9.

[12] See Mary Agnes Dougherty, My Calling to Fulfill, (New York: Women’s Division, General Board of Global Ministries, 1997), chapter 1 for additional discussion of Deaconesses’ vocation within the United Methodist tradition.

[13] L. R. Meyer, Deaconesses, Biblical, Early Church, European and American, 232.  The duties of the M.E. Deaconess are also specified in the Discipline beginning in 1888.

[14] Maddox, Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology, 215.

[15] “Training of Deaconess,” The Message and Deaconess Advocate, (May 1898), 3.

[16] The Message, (July 1887), 2; Mary Agnes Dougherty, “The Meyers: Josiah Shelley and Lucy Jane Rider,” Methodist History, 37 (October 1998), 54. Mr. Meyer and Mr. Blackstone remained distinctly disagreeable to Lucy Rider Meyer’s interest in biblical criticism especially in the later years of her life and ministry, evidence of the pervasive tension between male narrators and the expanding Deaconess movement.  Josiah Shelley Meyer expressed his opinion that “Modernism is the old Unitarian whims of doubt.  The Fundamendalists [sic] are the fighting cocks in the pulpit, they are both wrong,” in Josiah Shelley Meyer, Modern Miracles, (unpublished), 41.  Although Josiah Shelley Meyer was most likely more conservative than Lucy Rider Meyer with regard to biblical criticism his position was not exclusively fundamentalist.

[17] “Training of Deaconesses,” The Message, (May 1888), 3.

[18] Rosemary Skinner Keller, “Belle Harris Bennett and Lucy Rider Meyer,” in Something More than Human, Charles E. Cole, ed., (Nashville: United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, 1986), 15.  According to Keller, since most of the faculty was part-time and female, they received no salary.

[19] Lucy Rider Meyer, “Course of Study,” The Message, (January 1887), 4.  In the listing of courses and faculty this submission named Lucy Rider Meyer’s husband as Rev. J.S. Meyer, the instructor of Bible and Church History.

[20] Lucy Rider Meyer, “Journal of the School,” The Message, (January 1887), 3; “Here and There,” Deaconess Advocate, (May 1903), 12, 13.

[21] Diana Shaenberger, “As a Physician and Scientist,” Deaconess Advocate, (June 1904), 10. Meyer received the M.D. degree from Woman’s College of Chicago.

[22] Ibid., 236-247.

[23] The Message, (June 1888), 2.

[24] J. S. Meyer, “Modern Miracles,” 44.

[25] Henry Sylvester Nash, Deaconess Advocate, (September 1908), 10.

[26] Horton, High Adventure: Life of Lucy Rider Meyer, 117.

[27] “Our Deaconess Home,” The Message, (June 1887), 3.

[28] The Message, (August 1887), 2.

[29] The Message, (September 1887), 2.

[30] The Message, (April 1888), 1.

[31] Editorial, The Message and Deaconess Advocate, (September 1902), 8.

[32] “Religious Movements of the Nineteenth Century,” The Message and Deaconess Advocate, (January 1901), 6.

[33] “Are You Becoming Better?” The Message and Deaconess Advocate, (September 1901), 10.

[34] See Jean Miller Schmidt, “Reexamining the Public/Private Split: Reforming the Continent and Spreading Scriptural Holiness,” in Perspectives on American Methodism, ed. Russell Richey et al. (Nashville: Kingswood Books, 1993), 235-240.

[35] Mary Agnes Dougherty, “The Meyers: Josiah Shelley and Lucy Jane Rider,” Methodist History, (October 1998), 46.

[36] Horton, High Adventure: Life of Lucy Rider Meyer, 184-6.

[37] Ibid., 204-6.  Horton gives less attention to her mention of Meyer taking courses at the University of Chicago with Shailer Mathews and Gerald Birney Smith.  According to Horton, “But college courses formed a minor part of her education”(203-4).

[38] Ibid., 207.

[39] Laceye Warner, “Methodist Episcopal Deaconesses and the Social Gospel: Social Service with Evangelistic Ministry,” Journal of the Academy of Evangelism in Theological Education, October 2001, 36-49.

[40] Horton, High Adventure: Life of Lucy Rider Meyer, 315; J.S. Meyer, “Modern Miracles,” 42.

[41] Horton, High Adventure: Life of Lucy Rider Meyer, 314, 322.

[42] J.S. Meyer, “Modern Miracles,” 41. 

[43] Ibid., 42. 

[44] “What are Deaconesses?” The Message, (June 1888), 1.

[45] Ibid.

[46] L. R. Meyer, Deaconesses, Biblical, Early Church, European, American, 111.  Meyer’s text, Deaconess Stories, includes numerous accounts of M.E. Deaconesses ministering to immigrant families.  See Lucy Rider Meyer, Deaconess Stories, (Chicago: Hope Publishing Co., 1900), 63f, 70f, 71f, 83f, 91f, 155f.

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