Godey's Lady's Book

American Woman in Religious Ministry in 1897 – Part Three

In the latter part of the 19th century Godey’s Lady’s Book put a larger focus on the achievements of women outside the home in teaching, healthcare/sanitation, literature, and religious service.

This five part series is based on an article called  Woman in Religious Ministry from the September 1897 issue of the magazine.

This article ran during the period when magazines were making the transition between hand drawn portraits/illustrations and actual photography.

This story is especially interesting in that context because it discusses contemporary women working in various religious ministries, but the images used are a combination of rather artistically elegant drawn portraits and posed photographic images.

Woman in Religious Ministry in 1897 – Part Three

By S. T. Willis

Rev. Florence Kollock-Crooker

Rev. Florence Kollock-Crooker, one of the foremost women preachers of the country, is a product of the great West. She was born in Wisconsin, taking her collegiate course at the university of that State, and what she considers her ministerial life work was done in Chicago.

Rev. Florence Kollock-Crooker

Rev. Florence Kollock-Crooker

She was blessed with parents who felt that the girls should be given an equal chance in life with the boys. As a result every member of the family of seven children, which included four girls, adopted a profession. Florence Kollock began her independent career as a school teacher, and it was the development of her deeply sympathetic nature in this work that made her feel that she could do a broader work in the Christian ministry.

It seemed to her that the pulpit needed women, and her cordial reception by the brethren as a co-worker in the cause of humanity showed that her judgment was correct.

Her parents were Universalists, and as that was the first denomination to open its educational institutions and grant ordination to women, she naturally chose that denomination and took her theological course at St. Lawrence University.

Endowed by Nature with strong personal magnetism, she soon displayed the ability to draw to her work the strongest people in the community, including always a large share of those who had imagined themselves “too broad for any church, ” or those whose early church discipline had caused them to avoid all churches in later life.

Church-going is often left by the husbands to the women of the family, but it was never so in Florence Kollock’s church, which always contained an unusual proportion of men, young and old. Her ministry in Chicago covered a continuous period of about fourteen years, during which time she built two church edifices, the last being the handsome Stewart Avenue Universalist Church, and when she left it, hers was the largest congregation of the denomination in Chicago.

When she broke that tie to gratify a desire for foreign travel and study she was not released until she accepted the unusual commission of personally selecting her own successor, which she did. After her trip abroad, during which she busied herself with lectures at Oxford and the British Museum;and writing a series of articles on co-education in Europe for home papers, she confined her work to a short engagement at Pasadena in answer to the call of a brother minister in broken health.

Last winter she spent in Boston as assistant organizer with Dr. G. L. Perrin in the philanthropic and educational work of the Shawmut Avenue Every Day Church. Since that time her marriage with Rev. Jos. Henry Crooker has been celebrated and her experience surely ought to make her an ideal minister’s wife. Mr. Crooker has just accepted a call to the Unitarian Church at Troy, N. Y.

The two are as one in up-to-date methods of church work, but Mrs. Crooker does not intend to relinquish her membership in her denomination, though she is fully in sympathy with the church of her husband’s choice. She has always been a consistent and ardent supporter of all movements for the advancement of women, but herself, one of the most womanly of women, she never approved of women who aspired or affected to be in the least mannish. Her pulpit manner is intensely earnest, but her delivery is free and her sermons always best when she casts her manuscript aside, as she has done of late years.

Rev. Annis F. Eastman

When the long and successful pastorate of the Rev. Thomas K. Beecherdrew to a close, in the Park Congregational Church at Elmira, N. Y. , at his earnest request, Mrs. Annis F. Eastman and her husband were called as co-pastors to succeed him, and in the call to that large and influential church womanhood everywhere is honored.

Rev. Annis F. Eastman

Rev. Annis F. Eastman

It was not until Mrs. Eastman was the mother of four children, and her husband’s health began to fail, that she began to fill his pulpit occasionally at the evening service. Her ministrations were acceptable, and gradually she grew into a strong preacher of the word.

She was ordained in Brookton, N. Y. , in the autumn of 1889, and among the large number of distinguished clergymen who sat in that Congregational Council and assisted in the service of ordination were her own husband and Dr. Thomas K. Beecher. From Brookton she was called to West Bloomfield, where she did splendid service until called to the Park Church in Elmira.

Mrs. Eastman has been asked to preach in some of the most influential churches in the country, and as a writer and lecturer has made an enviable reputation. She read a very strong paper on “The Influence of Religion on Woman” before the Congress of Religions at the World’s Fair, in commenting upon which the Chicago Tribune said:

“Her essay was received with far more than usual interest. “She has a genius for preaching, and a simplicity of language that is truly eloquent. The womanly element, the mother’s heart in her preaching, gives a peculiar pathos and tenderness to all her appeals. A newspaper reporter, writing about her preaching, said: “It is impossible to listen to her without having more passion for righteousness, more faith in divine goodness, and greater courage to strive after and attain the divine ideal. “

Collection: Godey’s Lady’s Book
Publication: Godey’s Lady’s Book
Date: September, 1897
Title: Woman in Religious Ministry
Location: Philadelphia, PA

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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