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Pioneer Women of Pentecostal Revivals How did Woodworth-Etter’s and McPherson’s methodologies set them apart from other revivalists of their time?

Leah Payne: Woodworth-Etter and McPherson practiced typical forms of revivalism: they held large meetings, used altar calls and divine healing to show the efficacy of their messages, were skilled preachers, and experts at self-promotion. We know of them today in large part because of their talent and skill. Woodworth-Etter and McPherson were distinct from other revivalists in a few key ways. First, they differed from their male counterparts in that they did not (could not) use stereotypical masculinity to bolster their preaching or shore up their authority. Second, unlike the vast majority of their female counterparts, Woodworth-Etter and McPherson did not argue much over whether or not the Bible authorized their ministries. Neither woman spent a significant amount of preaching or writing time trying to convince her followers that the supposed prohibitions in Pauline literature did not apply to women today. Instead, they created biblically-informed identities that simultaneously reinforced their status as feminine women and as authoritative ministers.



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Category: Church History, Summer 2016

About the Author: Leah Payne, Ph.D. (Vanderbilt University, 2013), is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at George Fox University. Leah serves on the Foursquare Church Education Commission and she is the author of Gender and Pentecostal Revivalism: Making a Female Ministry in the Early Twentieth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Visit her blog on religion & popular culture: Faculty Page Twitter: @ProfLeahPayne

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