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Canadian Methodist Women, 1766-1925

Marys, Marthas, Mothers in Israel

By Marilyn Färdig Whiteley
Subjects Social Science, Women’s Studies
Series Studies in Women and Religion Hide Details
Hardcover : 9780889204805, 328 pages, April 2005

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
Canadian Methodist Women, 1766–1925: Marys, Marthas, Mothers in Israel by Marilyn Fardig Whiteley


Introduction: Something in the Atmosphere

Part One: The Legacy of the Itinerancy

1. “Bed and candlestand, for any passing Elisha”: Hospitality and the Founding of Churches

2. Mistress of the Parsonage: The Role of the Itinerant’s Wife

Part Two: Evangelical Experience and the Means of Grace

3. Bible, Closet, and Family Altar: The Private Means of Grace

4. The Grace of Utterance: Class Meetings, Prayer Meetings, and Revivals

Part Three: The Organizing Church

5. “Gospel in bread and butter and afternoon tea”: Benevolence Work and Ladies’ Aids

6. Wide Spheres of Usefulness: Sunday Schools and Church Music

Part Four: The Missionary Movement

7. From Missionary-hens to “an entirely new line”: Women’s Support for Missions

8. “A broader culture, a wider experience”: The Work of the Missionary Society

Part Five: Responding to Change

9. “The Foreigners in Our Cities”: Women and Social Christianity

10. Widening the Field: Responding to a New Era

11. All the Rights and Privileges: The Status of Women within the Church







Canadian Methodist women, like women of all religious traditions, have expressed their faith in accordance with their denominational heritage. Canadian Methodist Women, 1766-1925: Marys, Marthas, Mothers in Israel analyzes the spiritual life and the varied activities of women whose faith helped shape the life of the Methodist Church and of Canadian society from the latter half of the eighteenth century until church union in 1925.

Based on extensive readings of periodicals, biographies, autobiographies, and the records of many women’s groups across Canada, as well as early histories of Methodism, Marilyn Färdig Whiteley tells the story of ordinary women who provided hospitality for itinerant preachers, taught Sunday school, played the melodeon, selected and supported women missionaries, and taught sewing to immigrant girls, thus expressing their faith according to their opportunities. In performing these tasks they sometimes expanded women’s roles well beyond their initial boundaries.

Focusing on religious practices, Canadian Methodist Women, 1766-1925 provides a broad perspective on the Methodist movement that helped shape nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Canadian society. The use and interpretation of many new or little-used sources will interest those wishing to learn more about the history of women in religion and in Canadian society.


``Whiteley's accounts are agreeably readable, and she provides appropriate and vivid images of representative figures such as Annie Leake, Nellie McClung, and Elizabeth Sutherland Strachan. ''

- Jay Newman, Canadian Book Review Annual, 2006

``A magnificent story. ..[that] enlarges, transforms and enhances the entire Methodist movement. ...Those formerly in the background are brought forward. ''

- Eldon Hay, Touchstone

``This book is necessary reading for those interested in Canadian women's history and specifically the history of women in social and religious movements. Marilyn Färdig Whiteley makes it clear that for the nineteenth century the social and religious were inextricably connected. The result of extensive archival research, Canadian Methodist Women provides both a deep understanding of the pervasiveness of the Methodist Church, and a chronological narrative of women's activism within and beyond the church. Chapters on ministers' wives, Methodist and family life, prayer meetings and revivals, ladies' aid societies, mission wives and missionary women, community outreach work, and Methodism and the social gospel movement, all point to the great extent to which women kept Methodism alive in early Canada. ... Marily Fädig Whiteley is to be congratulated for her efforts at brining these Methodist women's stories to light. ''

- Myra Rutherdale, University of Toronto Quarterly, Volume 77, Number 1, Winter 2008