The revival of religious orders in the mid-nineteenth century opened up a field of Christian ministry for women distinct from previous types of church work, which had been voluntary, part-time, and necessarily limited by contemporary identification of women with the domestic sphere. The Deaconess Movement posed a threat to the accepted gender order of Victorian society, creating new spheres of activity and roles of authority for women outside the home. This volume, bringing together documents on the Movement from a variety of unpublished archives, offers an introduction to a neglected aspect of women's involvement in official Church ministry through the women's own voices. It provides a coherent illustration of the circumstances which fostered the revival of an ancient order of ministry for women, through the first-hand experience of some of the individuals who were involved in the early years. Socially divisive, theologically controversial, the claims of women to be part of an order analogous to that of the male diaconate formed the basis of their active participation in the ecclesiastical hierarchy right up to the present day.
Meticulously edited, this volume offers valuable material for the history of the Church of England. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORYThis excellent selection of documents gives us a view of the early days of the Anglican Deaconess movement. DISTINCTIVE DIACONATE The book encourages historians to reassess the impact and significance of the revival of the female diaconate. Effectively contextualised by an informative, detailed introduction, and featuring the writing of women such as Isabella Gilmore and her more familiar counterpart Elizabeth Ferard, this volume will undoubtedly allow scholars to begin this important re-evaluation. This volume will better enable scholars to determine the complexity and significance of this process. HISTORIANS OF WOMEN RELIGIOUS website
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