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Archives: Notable Women in Methodist History

Below you will find stories about women who have played a significant role in the history of the Methodist church.

Learn more about the significant contributions women in leadership continue to make in the mission and ministry of the church.

Methodists Ann and Anna Jarvis are credited with creating Mother's Day in the U.S. Courtesy: Historic St. George's UMC.

Mothers of U.S. Mother’s Day were West Virginia Methodists

Ann Jarvis had the idea and her daughter Anna led a campaign in the early 1900s to have Mother's Day recognized as a national holiday. Read More

Donna Miller of Historic St. George's United Methodist Church in Philadelphia points out images of Ann and Anna Jarvis at the church. Video image by United Methodist Communications.

Methodist History: The Founding Mothers of Mother’s Day

Two women created the holiday that falls on the second Sunday in May in the U.S. but do you know how, and why, they did it? View

Image portray Susanna Wesley, mother of the founders of Methodism. Courtesy of General Commission on Archives and History.

Susanna Wesley: Mother of Methodism

John and Charles Wesley's mom was a strong woman of faith. “The differences she made have lived on because of the sons that she raised.” View

Archive photo of Georgia Harkness Methodist theologian.

Georgia Harkness: Methodist Trailblazer in Theology

During Women's History Month, we explore the powerful impact of an author and hymn writer whose work inspired MLK and remains relevant. View

Methodist reformer Frances Willard is seen in portrait. Courtesy of United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History.

Methodist History: Early Voice for Women’s Rights

Learn more about the 19th century reformer who fought for voting rights and full representation in the Methodist Church. View

Speculative portrait of Annie Sweitzer by Richard C. Douglas, New Windsor, Maryland. Artwork courtesy of Richard C. Douglas and the Strawbridge Shrine Association.

Methodist History: Slave welcomed as one of first members

African-Americans were among the earliest converts to Methodism in America. Annie Sweitzer was one of the first. View

In this 1979 photo, Hoover (right) and Mai Gray (center), president of the Women’s Division, greeted Lee Tae-young, affiliated with Ewha University in South Korea.

Remembering Theressa Hoover, woman of firsts

Trailblazing African-American female became a top executive in the denomination and a mentor who was “larger than life…gentle as a dove.” Read More

Caring for the spiritual well-being of her family was very important to Susanna Wesley. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Courage and conviction: A woman’s leadership through a difficult time

When Susanna Wesley found the spiritual depth of her church lacking, she led her own devotions. When people objected, she stood firm. Read More

Suffragettes march with flags in Washington, D.C., in an archival image dated 1910 to 1920. Six Methodist women advocated for women’s voting rights as part of their Christian calling. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

6 Methodist women who fought for the vote

Expanding the franchise to all adult citizens took great risk and great faith. Fortunately, these Wesleyans were on the case. Read More

Biblical figures Ruth and mother-in-law Naomi are depicted as strong, caring women by painter Sandy Freckleton Gagon.

Biblical mothers: not a job for the faint of heart

Take a look at some of the strong role models of faithfulness and God's self-giving love we can find in Scripture. Read More

Women immigrants who traveled alone were often at risk when they arrived at Ellis Island in the late 19th century. Public domain image.

Methodist History: Welcoming Women Immigrants

Alma Mathews made her mission field Ellis Island. She and others offered a safety net for women traveling alone. View

Dawn Wiggins Hare visits with Alice Finch Lee during a celebration for Lee’s 100th birthday at First United Methodist Church in Monroeville, Ala. Photo by Marianne Lee, a family member.

Alice Lee, United Methodist leader, dies at 103

Lee, the lawyer sister of author Harper Lee, served the church at all levels. Read More

Southern Methodist women celebrated their 50th anniversary jubilee in 1928, commemorating the founding of the Woman’s Missionary Society in 1878. Original Artwork: Mary Turley Marks, 1928 . Courtesy: Board of Global Ministries

Women in Mission: a Protestant Tradition

A must read for Women's History Month: New World Outlook's story of Methodist women who pioneered all aspects of mission service. Read More

Portrait of Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala taken on the campus of Scarritt Bennett. Bishop Nhanala of Mozambique is the first female United Methodist bishop in Africa. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS

Women in UMC History

Browse this gallery to learn the stories of courageous, committed women in Methodist history. Visit Site

Timeline of Women in Methodism

Learn about some amazing women who helped shape the history of the church. Read More

Bishop Leontine Kelly dies at 92

First African-American woman bishop is remembered as a trailblazer, spiritual mother and 'a gift to The United Methodist Church.' Read More

The Rev. Joaquina Nhanala of Mozambique is the first woman elected as a United Methodist bishop in Africa. A UMNS file photograph by Bill Kreamer.

United Methodists in Africa elect first female bishop

The Rev. Joaquina Filipe Nhanala, elected July 23, will lead the church's Mozambique Area. Read More