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The Rise and Demise of Women’sministry in the Origins and Early Years of Pentecostalism in Britain

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Early Pentecostalism was a revival movement whose ‘charismatic moment’ in Britain was between 1907 and 1914. During this period women pioneered in ministry, led churches and were popular speakers at conventions. They were often the first to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Prior to this date the ministry and teaching of key women had helped shape Pentecostal theology and many offered a firm biblical basis for their own ministry as women. However, it seems that the early Pentecostal women ministered on the basis of their ‘call’, ‘gifting’ and ‘anointing’ with no clear theological foundation in regard to their authority, which was called into question at a debate entitled, ‘A Woman’s Place in the Church’ in 1914. Instead of a positive evaluation of their contribution, many comments were recorded suggesting women’s ministry needs to be limited. As well as looking at the contribution of women to the origins and early years of Pentecostalism in Britain, I will examine the influences which surrounded this debate and seek to draw some conclusions which have relevance for today.

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