Following God's direction

When faced with resistance, we sometimes back down, even when we believe we are doing what God has created us to do.

In this conversation, the Rev. Donna Fowler-Marchant, author of a new book titled, Mothers in Israel: Methodist Beginnings Through the Eyes of Women, introduces us to some of the amazing women of the early Methodist movement. Each chose to follow God, even when the tradition of the day (and many of the men) were saying what they were doing was wrong.

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You may have heard about the bold strength of Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles. But do you know about Mary Bosanquet Fletcher? How about Sarah Lawrence and Mary Taft? Learn from their example of the conviction to follow where God leads.

Donna Fowler-Marchant

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This episode posted on March 19, 2020.


Transcript

Prologue

Welcome to Get Your Spirit in Shape, United Methodist Communications and UMC.org’s podcast to help us keep our souls as healthy as our bodies. I’m Joe Iovino.

My guest today is the Rev. Dr. Donna Fowler-Marchant, a United Methodist pastor of the North Carolina Conference currently serving the Methodist Church in Britain in the West Hertfordshire and Borders Circuit just a few miles north of London.

But in today’s conversation, we are talking about her new book titled, Mothers in Israel: Methodist Beginnings Through the Eyes of Women. Donna shares the amazing ministries of some of the women of the early Methodist movement, and the ways these women chose to follow God, even when the tradition of the day (and many of the men) were saying what they were doing was wrong. 

Conversation

Joe: Donna Fowler-Marchant, welcome to Get Your Spirit in Shape.

Donna:  It’s good to be here with you, Joe.

Joe: I want to start and congratulate you on your new book, Mothers in Israel: Methodist Beginnings through the Eyes of Women. I understand it’s being very well received right now.

Donna:  Well, it’s been pretty exciting to me because I guess more people have been interested in the topic than I thought would be, because it is sort of a niche market, I’d suppose you’d say. But yeah, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at both in England and the U.S. that people have been interested and started reading it.

Joe: Well, I want to talk about those early Methodist women today with you. To start really basically, in your writing, tell me the story of a woman in the early Methodist Movement that particularly inspired you.

Donna:  Well, there’s so many. But I think you have to start, if you’re going to talk about Methodist women, with Susanna Wesley. You have to start there even though some people say, ‘Oh, she wasn’t really a Methodist.’ But a couple of scholars have taken umbrage at that and said, No, she kind of combined Puritanism and the Church of England and Methodism all in one. I think they’re right about that.

Susanna was really intelligent. She was really devout. She had great liberty of conscience in which she would argue with her husband. She would argue with her sons. She would push her idea of her theology back against them a little bit.

One of the things I love about her was that she sort of walked this line between being a woman of her time who, in her marriage vows, said she would be obedient to her husband and yet she did things that, you know, she kind of pushed against that and went a little over the line with that.

One of the early examples of that was in their marriage they didn’t agree on who should be the proper monarch at the time. So she didn’t say ‘amen’ at the end of the prayer that Samuel had said for King William. And he was just livid. And so he walked out on her and said he couldn’t live with her if they didn’t have the same king, left her with six or 7 small children. She tried very reasonably to talk with him about that to convince him that, you know, it wasn’t fair for him to have his own opinion and her not to be able to have hers. She even wrote a letter to Lady Yarbrough and she said, ‘I’ve tried to represent to him that unfairness of this, that he really should see my side of it.’ But it didn’t go very well. She even said that she would not ask his pardon because she didn’t believe that what she had done was a sin in disagreeing with him, which he clearly thought it was. So that was one of those early kind of indicators that she had a mind of her own even in her marriage and  that she believed that her obedience was to God above any other authority, including her husband, including the church, including anything.

Then later, of course, she’s so well known for her kitchen meetings that she had, which were prayer meetings, worship services, right there in the kitchen at Epworth when Samuel was away on convocation. It’s so funny when you read the letters that she wrote to him and you start piecing together what happened because the curate who had been left in charge in his absence was apparently very jealous that Susanna was doing this, because he apparently was a bit of a dull preacher. So people were neglecting to go to church, but there were coming to the old rectory and sitting there and listening to Mrs. Wesley as she read to them, and as she read sermons to them and led them in prayer.

At first, Samuel was like, okay, this is a good thing. I’m good with that. But then apparently Mr. Inman, the curate, kind of stirred things up again. Samuel apparently wrote back and said, No, you really don’t need to be doing this. It looks peculiar. Or, as they said, particular. So, she wrote him back this other really calm kind of masterly, logical letter and she just sort of went through thing by thing, ticking it off, refuting what he had said. She told him of the good that this was doing for people, and the goodwill that this was creating between the rectory and their neighbors, which had not always been a smooth relationship.

Then she said this…and I have to read it because it’s just such a fabulous quote. The last thing she wrote in this letter to him was this:

If you do after all think fit to dissolve this assembly, do not tell me anymore that you desire me to do it for that will not satisfy my conscience. But send me your positive command in such full and expressed terms as may absolve me from all guilt and punishment for neglecting this opportunity of doing good to souls when you and I shall appear before the great and awful tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ. I dare not wish this practice of ours had never been begun, but it would be with extreme grief that I shall dismiss them because I foresee the consequences.”

Then she closes by saying, “I pray God direct and bless you.”

[Laughter]

Joe: She’s saying there, I think what I’m doing is God’s will. So, if you want to shut it down, you have to shut it down.

Donna:  You have to shut it down and you’re responsible to explain to the Lord when we’re up there being judged that you made me do this because I was doing a good thing. Samuel backed down and she continued doing it until he came home.

Joe: And this grew out of that time when he left, right? He went over the king kind of thing?

Donna:  No, this was actually later than that. Yeah, this was later. He was in London for convocation and he was representing, I guess, the diocese of Lincoln for that.

I guess they’d been getting along a little better at that point. But nevertheless he was away and she felt like she needed to do whatever she could for not just her family and her household, but for the people in the community.

They said at least 200 people crammed into her kitchen for these services. You’ve been in that kitchen. You know it’s not huge. You can just imagine. They were spilling out everywhere and straining to hear what she was saying to them.

There’s a wonderful illustration of her preaching to these people, and that’s on the cover of my book actually. That’s the illustration that was chosen for the cover, and I think it’s perfect. I think it’s an absolutely wonderful way to encapsulate this whole idea of a mother in Israel.

Some people say, ‘Wait. I don’t understand that. Why is it called Mothers in Israel?’ It’s because this was a term that Wesley and a number of the early Methodists used for women who were particularly devout who showed particular leadership, who were particularly good at visiting the sick and caring for people’s souls, all those sorts of things. Obviously, Susanna ticks all those boxes. I mean, she was definitely a Mother in Israel as well as being the mother of the Wesleys and in many ways being the mother of Methodism.

When she died, John Wesley actually said that she was, in her measure, a preacher of righteousness just as her father and her husband and her sons had been. You get a very clear understanding of just the high regard that he held his mother in. Not just as his mother, but as a theological thinker and as someone who was a really good example of living a Christian life.

Joe: Tell me more about the influence that she had on kind of Methodism in general. What’s her legacy?

Donna:  Her legacy, wow, it’s really, really far-reaching, I think, in ways that we maybe haven’t always understood or appreciated. One of the scholars whose books I was using for some of research in this, John Newton, he said that first and foremost she was John’s teacher, spiritual mentor and pastor. That’s pretty high praise right there. But I think it’s well deserved because not only was she, you know, his mother who famously had her children in a methodical, regulated manner of living. She had her school classroom there in the home and she taught them. She was not just teaching them reading and writing and, I suppose, arithmetic, but she was also teaching them the things of God.

If you go into the Epworth Church, the Wesley Memorial Church there, there’s a plaque on the wall that says that she prayerfully educated her children in the things of God. I think first and foremost, that’s what she did for her children. She believed that as their mother her responsibility was to help to form their souls and to fit them for heaven.

To that end she had read widely in her father’s theological library as a child growing up, and she read Samuel’s books, which he sometimes may not have been so pleased about.

She kept a devotional journal in which she would write about the things that she had read. She would write about the thoughts that she was having in struggles, maybe in her spiritual life and so forth. Her children knew that she wrote. So that was a thing that I think was a big influence on the Wesleys, the brothers, and some of the early Methodists was keeping a journal, and that being a big part of their spiritual journey.

She really was their spiritual mentor. I mean, they came to her with questions. Even when John was a student at Oxford, he would write to her about things he was thinking theologically or something he was struggling with. And she would write him back and she would tell him if she disagreed. I don’t care that at Oxford and you’re highly educated; you’re my son and you’ve asked me this, and I’m going to tell you what I think about it, not just like an emotional response, but out of her deep reading and her deep learning, because she was a very highly educated woman for her day.

She educated her sons and her daughters. She believed that she needed to teach those daughters how to read and write long before they learned how to sew or do any of those so-called “womanly” tasks. So she really left a mark, I think, in setting an example to her sons of what a woman can be, being devout, being intellectually really sharp, being able to be a leader. So her sons, it would have been very strange indeed, if they’d grown up to think that women were not capable of doing some of the things that women later did in the Methodist Movement. I think she really set the tone for a lot of that by being an example of that to her sons.

Joe: Let’s move to some of the maybe lesser-known women. Who are some of the other ones that piqued your interest?

Donna:  Yeah, it’s really interesting because when you start looking at those early Methodist women you almost can’t talk about one in isolation because they were all in such a network. All these women knew each other, supported each other. Some of them lived in the same household.

So yeah, it’s really interesting. I’ll just pull out Sarah Crosby. I think she would be an interesting woman to talk about for a moment. We don’t know much about her early life. We don’t even know what her family name was because she was Mrs. Crosby even though her husband deserted her. We only know her as Sarah Crosby.

She apparently first heard George Whitfield preach before she ever heard John Wesley or Charles, and she was very captivated. Apparently, Whitfield was a mesmerizing speaker. So she had this negative attitude about John Wesley and didn’t really want to hear him speak. But she did go hear him speak and she thought, ‘Oh, well, he preached but not with much power.’

She later wrote him a letter and told him that—which I think is hysterically funny—but she continued reading some of the things that he had written. That really changed her attitude towards him a lot. Then she heard him preach again and thought, ‘Oh, okay.’ She was a little more swayed by his theology at that point.

She became a class leader. You know, she was very active in helping to educate and look after the spiritual nurture of the people in her class. She would speak in that small group. But it was interesting that she is sometimes known as the first woman preacher of Methodism because she was the first one, that we know of, that sort of stepped across that line of speaking to just that small group of people and then really speaking to a larger group.

She said that she had expected about 30 people to show up for this particular class meeting, prayer meeting. Lo and behold, she said, there were almost 200 people there. Her first thought was, well what do I do? I can’t possibly speak individually with each of them, but I can’t send them away empty. What should I do? She thought, I’m going to stand up and I’m just going to tell them what’s in my heart. I’m going to tell them what God has done for me. So that’s what she did. She said that she gave out a hymn, she prayed and then she told them part of what the Lord had done for herself, persuading them to flee from all sin.

Then after this was over, her conscience started affecting her. She thought, ‘Oh, I need to write to Mr. Wesley and tell him that I did this and see what he thinks because I don’t know if this was the right thing.’ So she wrote him letter very quickly.

While she was waiting to hear back from Wesley, however, she did it again. She didn’t wait to get the go-ahead from him. She went ahead and on February 13th she says, “This day being appointed for a public fast I humbled myself in prayer. In the evening, I exhorted nearly 200 people to forsake their sins and showed them the willingness of Christ to save. They flock as doves to the windows, though as yet we have no preacher. Surely, Lord, thou hast much people in this place. My soul is much comforted in speaking to the people as my Lord has removed all my scruples respecting the propriety of my acting thus publicly.”

She had already been convinced by her further prayer and reflection that this was, in fact, an okay thing that she had done. And then the very next day she did hear back from Wesley and he said, you know, I think it’s okay. You haven’t gone too far. It’s right what you did. Then he sort of qualified it. He said be sure that you don’t call it preaching to them. Tell them we’re going to have a prayer meeting. You can talk to them, then have a little pause, and then have another little prayer meeting with them.

So he was giving his qualified approval to what she was doing. And you know the reasons for that are because he was an Anglican priest. He was concerned with Methodists not looking like the Quakers or the Baptists because they sometimes did have women preachers. This looked particular…I mean, it looked weird. You just didn’t do that in the Church of England. But he thought, no, we can call this exhorting. We can call this you speaking from your heart. This sort of thing.

So whether or not he actually at that point was willing to say, yes, this woman was preaching. Yeah, she was.

Joe: Yeah. A 200-person class meeting is a little hard to fathom.

Donna:  Yeah, that’s a big enough crowd to call a congregation. I’ve preached to a lot fewer than that. I think she was preaching.

Joe: Just to back up a little bit…. Clarify a little bit what a class meeting is, just for those who don’t understand what that’s about.

Donna:  Yeah. John Wesley liked to have things very organized. I think he inherited that from Susanna. We’ll call that another part of her legacy to him.

The big gatherings of people were called societies. Anybody could come to the society. Anybody, as long as they wanted to follow kind of the Methodist discipline, they were welcome to be in the societies.

Then there were smaller groups of classes, of maybe 12 or 13 people. Each one had a leader and they would meet weekly and they would support each other in the faith. They were companions on the journey. So, he did support women doing that, first of all only with other women, but eventually as time when on women would sometimes be charge of classes that included men as well. So, he’s getting closer and closer to that line of going over what was acceptable for women to do.

Women were class leaders and they were also leaders of bands, which was the smallest group. Those were for the most spiritually mature. There were definitely women who were in charge of those small groups of helping to really be spiritual directors and give spiritual counsel to people.

Women started speaking in a lot of these kinds of groups. Then they would speak at the love feasts, for example. Wesley said that, you know, every woman had a right to speak of what God had done for her and to testify of that at the love feast.

It’s really strange when you think about it. In some ways Wesley was so much a man of his time, very conscious of propriety of things. Yet, he gave space for these very unusual things to happen with, you know, allowing laymen to preach. And that….

There is another piece of Susanna’s legacy, because one of the very first lay men who every preached, Thomas Maxfield. Susanna heard him preach and when Wesley found out that he had preached, he was appalled. He was ready to, you know…. John Wesley fashioned…. gave him a good telling to.

Susanna said, ‘Son, you need to listen to him because I believe he’s as called of God to preach as you are.’ John listened to what she said, heard him preach. Then he said, ‘Hey, this is pretty good,’ and he started authorizing other laymen to preach.

The arguments he used in favor of laymen preaching later became part of the rationale behind laywomen preaching, which was that this was all an extraordinary call of God. Wesley, in fact, thought that Methodism itself was an extraordinary call of God, that the people called Methodists had been raised up for a particular purpose, to spread scriptural holiness across the land, as Wesley said, and that God could work through anyone.

If they’re doing this and there’s good fruits coming from it, it would get the Wesley stamp of approval because he was very practical. If it had been, you know, not producing fruits and people weren’t recognizing their sinfulness and kind of live a new way, according to the gospel, he would have shut it down. But he saw that there were fruits coming from this, do he said, yeah, keep doing what you’re doing.

Joe: You mentioned, too, they all knew each other and it’s hard to talk about one without talking about all of them. Are there kind of overarching take-aways that you’ve gotten from these stories?

Donna:  Yeah. There are a number of strands of things I see in all these women. Then some of it you can also see in Susanna as well.

They all had that sort of liberty of conscience that I mentioned earlier. They really did believe that it was more important to obey God than human authority as it says in the Book of Acts.

You see that with some of the things I discussed about Susanna, and then if you look at Mary Bosanquet Fletcher. She was brought up in a very well-to-do sort of tradesman’s home. She lacked for very little. She was close to her family, believed that she should be obedient to her parents, but they was appalled that she was hanging out with the Methodists. Her father said, you know, I really need you to not be talking about this around your little brothers because I don’t want them to get swayed by this. She said basically, I love you and I don’t want to be disobedient but I can’t make you that promise.

As a result, he said, you know, it pains me to do this but I’m going to ask you to leave home. About 2 weeks later finally he did say, Right, you’re going to have to go. But she would still come back home and have meals, and he would send things to her. I mean, the relationship wasn’t completely broken, but she saw her obedience to God as something that was higher than her obedience to her parents. Even though that was painful to her.

You see that again and again in these women. They were ready to stand up for the gospel, as they believed that they were being called, no matter what kind of opposition there was. Sometimes it was more than just people being angry about it. She was once having a meeting in her home, which she shared with Sarah Lyon and Sarah Crosby and some of the other Methodist women. Men were breaking down the gate of her house, trying to break in the door, to come in there and stop the meeting.  They were threatening physical violence. I mean, it was a very frightening circumstance.

Mary—here she was, brought up to be this proper woman who knew her place in society—faced off with these people and invited them to come in and worship with her. Some of them were ashamed and embarrassed and they ran away. Some of them actually did come in and worship and eventually became Methodists.

I just love this holy boldness that they had. It really didn’t matter if other people didn’t understand it or were opposed to it, or even if there was a threat of actually physical danger. They were still going to do it. I’ve got a couple of quotes from Mary that I think really encapsulate this.

She said, “If I have a word to speak from Him, He will make my way. If not, the door will be shut. I am only to show the meekness of wisdom and leave all to God.”

Then a little bit later, she was answering where people had said that it looked strange what she doing and they thought she was being very impudent. She said, “Therefore if some persons consider me as an impudent woman and represent me as such, I cannot blame them.” [Laughs]

So she’s like, yep, you can go ahead and say it; I’m being impudent and I own it.

Then there were people who said, well, if you think that you’re supposed to preaching, then why don’t you go join the Quakers? You know, their women go around and do this all the time. She said that she did believe that Quakers were doing a lot of good, but this is what she said in response:

“The Lord is more at work among the Methodists. And while I see this that although that they were to toss me about as a football, I would stick to them like a leech. Besides, I do nothing but what Mr. Wesley approves. And as to the reproach thrown by some upon me, what have I to do with it but quietly go forward saying I will be still more vile if my Lord requires it. Indeed, for none but thee, my Lord, would I take up this sore cross, but thou hast done more for me. Only make me holy and then lead me as thou wilt.”

I love that because it’s such an echo of that famous phrase of John Wesley’s when he started doing field preaching when he said he submitted to be more vile. She is picking right up on that and saying, if God wants me to be more vile, I’m going to do it. It’s uncomfortable to me. I don’t feel great about doing it all the time, but I believe I’m being lead to do it and I have to be obedient to God. I just think that’s amazing when you think about the time in which she lived and how much pressure there was on women to conform to a certain ideal. Yet she did not do that.

The other women of her acquaintance, Sarah Crosby, Sarah Ryan, they preached, they exhorted, they lead class meetings, and they significantly mentored other women, which I think is a really important part of the whole legacy, is that they had these networks of support and accountability. They also did the same for men, and there are many accounts of men, some of whom became preachers in their own right who would say, I was converted under the preaching Mary Bosanquet Fletcher or Mary Taft or, you know, different ones of the women.

So it was not just that they were influencing women, but they had a wider influence in the movement, and actually traveled around and were itinerant. They weren’t necessarily on the preaching plan of Wesley’s regular male preachers, but some of them did travel quite a bit to go and preach and teach and submit to be still more vile.

Joe: That’s really an amazing legacy. One of the things that you mentioned is this inner assurance that they had that they were doing what God was calling them to do. Where did that come from? How did they attain that? I think that something a lot of us would like to have in our own lives. I want to know that I’m doing what God’s calling me to do. Was there something that happened in their gatherings that helped them along the way?

Donna:  That is a great question and it’s really interesting. I would love to dig into this deeper if I ever had the time.

Some of these women, like Sarah Ryan and…well, all three: Sarah Ryan, Sarah Crosby and Mary Bosanquet Fletcher, all left written accounts of visions that they had, or dreams that they had in which God was saying things like, ‘feed my sheep.’

Mary Bosanquet Fletcher had this vision in which someone was…handed her an infant and told her to feed it. She said, Well, I have no milk. I can’t feed this child. In the vision, this figure that handed her the baby said, Well, just try. So she did and found that she could in fact feed this infant. When she awakened from this, she said that she felt that she knew, but now she had milk enough to feed all of God’s children, which was just a marvelous, very feminine image of nurture, and of care and really quite bold. It really did kind of empower her.

Again and again, you find this in her journal. She had this vision of Christ saying to her, Thou shalt walk with me in white. She saw that as basically, ‘just continue following me and you will walk with me in purity and holiness and in the life to come.’

That, I would think, they would see as very much a movement of the spirit, that the spirit was bearing witness with them that they were called and were in fact doing what God wanted them to do. And, yeah, I think we’d all give a lot of have that sort of opportunity when you’re trying to figure out, is this what I need to be doing, or is this it? We don’t all get those sort of blinding moments like that. But they certainly did report experiences like that.

Joe: Yeah, especially when you’re coming up against the system. Right? I mean, they were standing against tradition and a bit of the system. It must have been a trying time for many of them.

Donna:  Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s also interesting that Wesley was so incredibly supportive. Of course, Wesley had a pretty tight grip on everything. He liked to have things under his control.

But after his death there were some who had maybe not been able to influence him to discourage these women. There really started to be pressure on not having women preaching. Eventually in 1803 the conference came out with this statement that really it wasn’t necessary. There were plenty of men to be preaching and the women really didn’t need to be doing this, and if they did, it REALLY should be confined to just women. It’s interesting how many women continued preaching despite that ban.

Mary was one of them. Mary Bosanquet Fletcher continued right on up to her death in 1815. And in her household she had two young women, Sarah Lawrence and Mary Tooth, both of whom she called her daughters. So she was a mother to them in that sense as well as being a Mother in Israel, and both of them became preachers in their own right. So the legacy was continuing on.

Mary Taft, she continued preaching for something like 37 years after the ban came into effect. So it’s really interesting to see how these women really were stepping over kind of these boundaries and saying, I hear what you’re saying, but this is what God is telling me.

Then it was also interesting that there were men who were supportive of them and were very outspoken about that. One of those was Zechariah Taft. He married Mary Barrett Taft, and together they would preach. He would not go somewhere to preach where she was not welcome to preach, which is a pretty bold move, I would say, and much appreciated I’m sure.

He wrote a two-volume sort of book of biographies of some of these early Methodist women preachers, some of whom we wouldn’t know anything about if he had not wrote it because records weren’t kept. In some cases, things that the women left a written legacy of, were either lost by male editors or edited in such a fashion that it really misrepresented what she had done in her ministry.

For many of these women when their obituary was written up in the Methodist Magazine it would leave any hint of them preaching out altogether, which is really a sad thing to happen because, again, if it hadn’t been for some of these other people preserving those stories we might not know about these women.

It’s not just an important historical fact. I think it’s important for clergy and for laity to know that this is in our spiritual DNA. Women have been doing this stuff since the beginning of Methodism. So, if you’re at a church and your new pastor happens to be a woman, this is not some weird, new thing. This is actually deeply imbedded in our tradition, going all the way back to Susanna. I think if people realize that it might alter some of the receptions that some of us get when go to a church and people go, Oh, it’s a woman.

They were very amazing, remarkable women, and their stories need to be heard. We need to be able to learn from them and to see in them a pattern of ministering and a pattern of faithfulness because it cost them a lot to do what they did. It wasn’t an easy thing for them to do because it did sometimes fray those family bonds beyond repair. It did sometimes put them in literal physical danger.

But they persisted. They were really bold and they were cognizant of the fact that God was doing something through them.

Joe: There’s a lot of inspiration, I imagine, in your research and I know in your book for all of us to continue in our spiritual journeys. Thank you so much for the work that you’ve done.

Before I let you go I just want to ask the question that I ask every guest on Get Your Spirit in Shape, and that’s: what do you do to keep your spirit in shape?

Donna:  Well, I do a number of things. One is that every morning…. And I’ve done this for the last probably maybe 8 years. I use A Disciple’s Journal, which is an Upper Room publication. Our good friend Steve Manskar puts that together. It’s a wonderful way to start off your day with prayer, with Scripture reading and with some words from both Wesley brothers.

It might be interesting to do something in the future that is similar but to use some of the things that some of these women have said. That would be, I think, a fun thing to do.

But I do that and I keep a journal. I won’t say I write in it every day. But I write in it pretty regularly. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m thinking about until I do that. It’s like it’s up here and in here, but until I write it down I’m not really aware of what’s really going on in there.

Those things are very important for me. If a day goes by when I was too busy to do that, I can feel it. It makes me feel very kind of, uneasy in my spirit, if you will. So, I definitely do that. And I try to spend as much time as I can in having quiet time with God, because we’re all so busy. You would think with the pandemic that we’ve been maybe quieter and more able to take time, but in some ways, it’s even more hurried up because we’re all working from our homes. So time to make that demarcation between work and family time and whatever, becomes a bit difficult, but I think it’s important to spend some time just kind of listening and not just me babbling at God. But yeah, that’s one of the things that’s been really key for me, is to make time and space to do that.

Joe: Well, thank you so much for your time today and for the opportunity to have a chat with you.

Donna: Thanks so much Joe. I’ve enjoyed it.

Epilogue

That was the Rev. Donna Fowler-Marchant, a United Methodist pastor of the North Carolina Conference currently serving a circuit just outside London in the Methodist Church in Britain. She’s the author of a wonderful new book titled, Mothers in Israel: Methodist Beginnings Through the Eyes of Women.

Go to UMC.org/podcasts and look for this episode. On the page, you will find a link to buy Mothers in Israel, a transcript of my conversation with Donna, and some other interesting links where you can learn more about our United Methodist history.

Thank you so much for listening. I’ll be back soon with another conversation that will help us keep our souls as healthy as our bodies. I’m Joe Iovino. Peace. 

If you’re enjoying Get Your Spirit in Shape, would you consider supporting United Methodist Communications by making a gift at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom?