Attitudes to Women in Christadelphian Writings

Attitudes to Women

in Christadelphian Writings


Anyone attending Christadelphian meetings will for the most part find them led entirely by men. In numbers, sisters will be slightly in the majority, though less so than in many communities. But most of the public activities are done by brothers, not sisters. Brothers are “on the door” to greet you and give you a warm welcome. They take it in turn to preside, speak, read the Bible publicly, and give the prayers. Brothers carry round the plate with the bread and the cup with the wine. A brother reads the announcements, and organises the collection bags. Afterwards, a brother counts the money and banks it. Behind the scenes, the main picture is similar. A committee called “The Arranging Brethren” (or sometimes “The Managing Brethren”), all male, oversee the general running of the ecclesia. They are responsible, however, to the ecclesia as a whole, and sisters have an equal vote with brothers in selecting office-bearers including The Arranging Brethren, and in voting by show of hands at business meetings. In many ecclesias, however, a sister may not comment in discussion other than by passing a note to her husband to read out.

Sisters often play the organ to accompany singing and to provide a voluntary to begin and end the meeting. Sisters generally set out the bread and wine on the table and clear away afterwards. During the meeting they stay silent, except that they sing hymns.

At Bible Classes or mid-week fellowship meetings, the picture is similar, though sisters at informal classes may participate in “reading round” (taking it in turns to read a few verses of the Bible) when a chapter is read through by the whole group one by one. Sometimes sisters may ask questions or contribute comments.

In other activities the sisters play a fuller part. As do brothers, they teach in Sunday School, act as secretaries on preaching committees or as booking secretaries for conferences. They teach by writing booklets and magazine articles. On preaching campaigns they distribute leaflets and speak from door to door about our faith. Food preparation for fraternal gatherings or ecclesial lunches, hall-cleaning, and putting flowers on display are usually but not exclusively done by sisters.

This is the general picture, readily recognisable. The question raised in this book, without demeaning the service offered by any brother or sister, is whether this male/female pattern is a truly Biblical way of arranging our activities. How much are we following Bible teaching, ecclesiastical tradition, or secular attitudes of previous centuries?

A Varied Picture

Though the male-orientated description given here is fairly typical, it is a long way from being the full picture. The position is not as uniform as it might appear.

In some ecclesias sisters preside, pray and give papers at Bible Classes; they read the Bible at the Sunday meeting, give preaching talks, and participate in Bible seminar presentations. In some ecclesias the treasurer is a sister. At conferences and gatherings sisters give talks and lead workshops. These practices have become increasingly usual in recent decades, but can be traced back to the 1800s. Those who participate in this wider manner defend it as a correct application of Biblical principles. Since their contribution to ecclesial activities is more than that usually envisaged in many ecclesias, they do so with a conscious awareness of why their participation is Biblical.


Circumstances Alter Cases

Here is an account reporting what happened in the 1860s or 1870s when Christadelphians were becoming established in the Mississippi area of America. The number of believers was very few, and a sister wrote:

... I want to tell you of these humble, simple worshippers that I met with that summer. To begin with, I wonder if “circumstances alter cases” in matters of the truth as in everything else. Be that as it may, I do not see how that little ecclesia ever could have lived had the sisters not taken an active part in the worship.


Those eight, each and everyone, took a part in the meeting, and I have never since seen such zeal, enthusiasm, and devotion. One brother read the lesson, a second prayed, a third took charge of the table, and a fourth led in singing. One sister read from the Christadelphian; second, the thoughts she had noted down during the week, when reading her daily lessons; third, selection of hymn; and fourth, she always did the same thing—read a few verses from the Bible.

(“A Sister’s Narrative for Sisters, On Attaining the Truth Under Difficulties”, The Christadelphian, July 1, 1883, page 315)

The sister (a schoolteacher called Oriana Turney, identified here only by her initials O. L. T.) felt that the enthusiasm of the eight members of the ecclesia, and the value of their individual contributions, outweighed any consideration that sisters should be silent in the meeting: “circumstances alter cases”. This seems a reasonable deduction in itself, and more recently similar advice was given by the Bible Mission to an ecclesia in Africa where the sisters were more literate than the brothers. It was suggested that the sisters should read the Bible in the meetings – but only until the brothers became well enough educated to do so instead. Presumably in the case of the ecclesia in Mississippi, once numbers had increased the brothers took over and the sisters became silent. But if the sisters were able to contribute in an orderly manner, does it not seem a pity and a neglect of a God-given natural resource to restrict the sisters in this way – as well as depriving the sisters of the enjoyment of participation?


In Private or Public?

In 1884, in a reply to a correspondent, Robert Roberts (founder and editor of The Christadelphian) approved the involvement of sisters provided it was not at a public meeting:


Sisters taking part

H.T.J.R. – As regards the conduct of public assemblies, it is an imperative apostolic rule in harmony with the natural fitness of things, that women should keep silence. Paul’s words are plain, “It is not permitted to them to speak” (1 Cor. xiv. 34). But as regards a private company of believers, such as you describe, especially where, as you say, the sisters are better qualified, and greater in number, than the brethren, it would be pedantic to apply Paul’s rule to the exclusion of their useful help. Let them take part in the reading and other exercises you mention, and be thankful that you have sisters among you capable of making up your deficiencies. All Paul’s precepts are prompted and governed by what is reasonable and seemly. Rules for public meetings do not apply in other circumstances. Paul mentions women who laboured with him in the Gospel (Phil. iv. 3), though he forbids their appearance before an audience.

(The Christadelphian, March 1884, pages 128-129)


But is this distinction between public and private valid in itself or one taught by the New Testament?

The issue of sisters’ involvement kept being raised. Obviously some felt the position was not satisfactory. Robert Roberts gave the following answer:


–S. J.– The reasons why sisters do not take part in prayer and exhortation in Christadelphian assemblies, is because of the apostolic interdict, “Let your women keep silence in the churches,” (1 Cor. xiv. 34); “I suffer not a woman to teach” (1 Tim. ii. 12). These words are very precise and clear, and they are in harmony with the natural fitness of things, which has some weight in the decision, as illustrated in Paul’s question, “Doth not even nature itself teach you?” Paul’s reference to women “praying or prophesying” must be understood in agreement with his other statements. They can be so understood. The gift of prophecy by the pouring out of the Spirit was not confined to brethren: The promise was “On my servants and on my handmaidens will I pour out in those days of my spirit, and they shall prophesy” (Acts ii. 18). But this prophesying, in the case of women, appears to have been privately performed, as in the case of Philip’s four daughters (Acts xxi. 8-9). There is no case on record in the apostolic writings, of the public exercise of any office by a woman. Women are very visible throughout the whole work, but it is always in a private capacity.           (The Christadelphian, January 1886, page 5)


A Wise Woman’s Influence and a Wise Woman’s Voice

Robert Roberts was no male chauvinist. He advocated listening to advice from sisters and wives, considering only that women were forbidden to speak and teach in public.


… there is another lesson in the 16th chap. of Rom., which comes as a counteraction to the ideas that some have drawn from Paul’s remarks elsewhere on the position of woman in the ecclesia. Paul has said “Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” There is a tendency with some to drive this doctrine to an extreme. I have heard some speak contemptuously of the sisters as “mere women, only fit to nurse babies, and look after the pudding.” Against such a doctrine, every true brother will earnestly protest. It is not only degrading to her whom God has given us for “an helpmeet,” but it is inconsistent with the spirit of the gospel which teaches that there is neither male nor female in Christ: that we are all one in Christ Jesus. It is probably the natural extreme of the theory which flourishes on the other side of the water, and is equally to be reprobated in Christ. The one puts woman too high, and the other most certainly too low—so low as only tyrannical and selfish men would put them. Paul’s allusions in the chapter referred to, help us to put the right boundary to Paul’s doctrine of feminine subjection in the other case. He commends to the attention of the Roman ecclesia one Phoebe, a sister, whom he distinguishes as “a servant of the church at Cenchrea.” This implies a prominent, active, if not official position on the part of the sister in question. He further distinguishes her by making her the bearer of the epistle to the Romans, of which, for a time, she was the sole custodian. He entreats the whole Roman ecclesia on her behalf, saying of her that “she hath been a succourer of many, and of me also.” In the next verse, he mentions another sister Priscilla, as one who had with her husband, for Paul’s life laid down her own neck. In verse 6, he sends love to “Mary, who bestowed much labour on him.” Further down he salutes among others, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Julia and the sister of Nereus, and the mother of Rufus. This is a standing apostolic recognition of the high place which sisters may fill in the Lord, if in the grace of God, they have wisdom sufficient. True, there are not many such, but that is a misfortune of our times, and not a necessity of the thing itself. It may account for the cynical views of some, but ought not to be allowed to justify an unnatural, mischievous, and unscriptural theory. Sisters are never likely to develop into noble servants of Christ if the door is shut in their face, by a theory which would consign them to cradles, pots and pans. I do not mean to suggest that pots and pans are incompatible with higher duties, any more than the hammers, shoe lasts, or baking troughs of their rougher brethren, but a doctrine which would tie them all the time to these, is an offence and a mischief. It is the part of true nobility to shine in the performance of the humblest duties, we will not say “stoop,” or “condescend,” because there is no stooping in the case. These humble duties, which are most important in the economy of life, become exalted in the hands of intelligence and worth. But to insist on confining sisters to these, would be to ignore the fact that they have brains as well as bodies; and that men have other needs of help-meetship, besides those of knife and fork. Such a boorish doctrine would destroy companionship, where brethren need it most, and unfit their wives to fulfil the highest function of motherhood, which is to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In fact it is a doctrine to be opposed and detested as much as any hurtful doctrine may be. The man who holds, and much more the man who preaches it, deserves to be deprived of every social advantage and be shut up in a cave. This in fact, is his destiny at last. …. If a sister is an intelligent, active, useful, noble servant of Christ, her being a sister is no disqualification or barrier; it only precludes her from the act of public speaking and involves subjection to her husband. It does not shut her up to babies, pots and pans, though these will dutifully receive the right share of attention at her hands. She is a partner, a helper, a fellow-heir in all things pertaining to Christ, and the man who would degrade her from this position, is not fit for a place in the body of Christ. ….        

(The Christadelphian, July 1874, pages 312-314)


Shortly before he died he made a preaching tour of Australia and New Zealand. He tried to settle disputes where they arose, and the role and influence of sisters was an issue of contention in Dunedin.


... it was what may be called old man-ism that was at the root of the trouble. The question, who should be chief, is the most destructive of all discords: “When pride cometh, then cometh contention.” It is the Lord’s express command to all who aspire to be his disciples: “Be servants: take the lowest place.” “If any among you desire to be chief, the same shall be last of all.” When the reasonable spirit of modest self-assessment prevails, dis-union is impossible; for each holds the other up instead of pulling him down. In this case, the affair was mixed up with the question: “Should women rule?” “Does not Paul forbid her to ‘usurp authority over the man’?” If this question is treated in the spirit the Lord prescribes for all his brethren, there will be no danger or even question of the woman usurping authority over the man. If the last thing is for man to usurp authority over his brother—if, as Peter commands, “all are clothed with humility and all are subject one to another”—there will be no room for the usurpation of either man or woman to come in. But in point of fact, there was no question of usurpation, though Paul’s interdict was quoted. It was in reality a question of whether woman’s voice was to be heard in consultation or suggestion. There was no question of public speaking. All were agreed that the law of the Lord prohibited woman’s voice from being heard in public assembly. The question really was whether in the non-public working or management of things, woman’s voice might be allowed a place. The question seems an extraordinary one. The Lord’s law is never directed to the prescription of impossibilities. You can no more suppress a wise woman’s influence and a wise woman’s voice, than you can suppress the law of gravitation. You may prevent her delivering a public address: but you cannot prevent her giving good counsel, and you ought not. Though woman, by divine law is in subjection, she is not to be extinguished. If man is her head, it is not to domineer over her, but to protect and cherish and serve her in honour “as the weaker vessel,” content with the casting vote in matters of difference, which is the extent of his superior privilege. If the Scriptures appoint man as her head, they do not exclude her from partnership in all that concerns their mutual well-being. They show us women “labouring with Paul in the gospel” (Phillip iv. 3): as official servants of an ecclesia with business in hand, which the ecclesia was called upon to promote (Rom. xvi.1-3): exercising the prophetic gift (Acts xxi. 9); prominently ministering to Christ himself (Luke viii. 2-3): sometimes leaders in Israel, like Deborah (Judg. iv. 4). The denial of public speech to women is as far as we are justified in repressing them. I have seen tyrannical and unsympathetic men wrongly using Paul’s authority to put down and quench godly women more qualified than they themselves to exercise judgment and give counsel. Let women certainly be modest, but let her not be reduced to a cypher, which God never intended. She is intended as a comrade and a help which she greatly is, when enlightened and treated rightly. We ought to be thankful when women turn up who are able to help with wise suggestion. To object to such on the score of “ruling the ecclesia,” is to evince either a shameful misconception of duty or an itch for headship which disqualifies for the true service of the ecclesia. No man who wants to be head is fit to be head. The headship that comes from service is the only headship that is either useful or tolerable, or, in the long run, possible. Where the spirit of exalting each other, instead of exalting ourselves prevails (as Christ commands) there is little danger of difficulty arising, and an easy settlement of them when they do arise.

(Robert Roberts, A Voyage to Australia, pages 141-142,

 Saturday February 29th, 1896,

 first printed in The Christadelphian, February 1897, pages 60-61)


It is evident that Robert Roberts held women in high esteem; in this he was in accord with the progressive atmosphere of the times.[1] In the 1860s (at the same time as the Christadelphian community was increasing in numbers) there was a growing movement in support of women’s suffrage. Voting by women, for instance, was introduced in municipal elections in Britain in 1869, and universal suffrage in New Zealand in 1893. When Robert Roberts drew up The Ecclesial Guide in 1883, sisters held the same position as brothers when voting for ecclesial offices and activities, but like the 1869 Act of Parliament, although women could vote for offices, they couldn’t stand for election themselves.

His emphasis on humility, on being subject to one another, on listening to wise counsel whether spoken by sister or brother, contains the seeds to encouraging full involvement of sisters in every aspect of ecclesial life according to ability and spiritual maturity. In Wanganui he met a sister who appears to have been one of the “Arranging Brethren”:

I was also introduced to sister Dexter, whose characteristics are described in many a Scripture specification of womanly excellence, and whose serving capacities are so highly appreciated that she has been appointed “a managing brother!” Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth, was an excellent managing brother, to whom Barak naturally took the second place.     

(Robert Roberts, A Voyage to Australia, page 117,

Monday January 20th, 1896,

first printed in The Christadelphian, November 1896, page 421)[2]


Speaking in Public

The sticking point, however, seems to be speaking “in public”. It is worth analysing, therefore, the explanation given in 1886.

The context of 1 Corinthians

14 suggests this should not

be understood as an apostolic interdict on all speaking

(see pages 52-62).



“Natural fitness” tends to be subjective, varying from

generation to generation.


Neither precise, nor clear.


This is also qualified by its context. Women acceptably teach elsewhere in Scripture.


Euodia and Syntyche “these women ... have laboured side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers.”

“Always in a private capacity”?

–S. J.– The reasons why sisters do not take part in prayer and exhortation in Christadelphian assemblies, is because of the apostolic interdict, “Let your women keep silence in the churches,” (1 Cor. xiv. 34); “I suffer not a woman to teach” (1 Tim. ii. 12). These words are very precise and clear, and they are in harmony with the natural fitness of things, which has some weight in the decision, as illustrated in Paul’s question, “Doth not even nature itself teach you?” Paul’s reference to women “praying or prophesying” must be understood in agreement with his other statements. They can be so understood. The gift of prophecy by the pouring out of the Spirit was not confined to brethren: The promise was “On my servants and on my handmaidens will I pour out in those days of my spirit, and they shall prophesy” (Acts ii. 18). But this prophesying, in the case of women, appears to have been privately performed, as in the case of Philip’s four daughters (Acts xxi. 8-9). There is no case on record in the apostolic writings, of the public exercise of any office by a woman. Women are very visible throughout the whole work, but it is always in a private capacity.

Phoebe, “a deacon of the church at

Cenchreae” and prophetesses in

1 Corinthians 11. Is this not “the public exercise of an office by a woman”?


Note the give-away word “appears”.

1 Corinthians repeatedly shows that prophesying is a public activity – and by both sexes, 1 Cor. 11 & 14.


1 Corinthians 11, from where this is quoted, approves of sisters speaking in the meeting.



Agreed, so reassessment is needed.


Is there any evidence or likelihood of prophesying being done in private?


Euodia and Syntyche “these women ... have laboured side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers.”

“always in a private capacity”?

(The Christadelphian, January 1886, page 5)


We suggest that there are so many holes in the argument presented here by Robert Roberts that this passage alone gives strong reason why the position should be re-examined.


When is “in public” not “in public”?

When Jane Roberts (wife of Robert Roberts the editor) produced an address for a “Tea Meeting” of the “Young Women of the Birmingham Ecclesia” in the Athenaeum Hall, 29th December 1881, it was read by her husband. So too in 1883.


In Victorian times, even in the academic community, it was thought unseemly for a woman to address an audience:

... the Social Science Association (founded in 1857) admitted women to membership. Initially papers submitted by women had to be read by male colleagues – such was the contemporary abhorrence of women on the public platform...         (Tom Begg, The Excellent Women –                           The Origins and History of Queen Margaret College, page 8)[3]


But in 1893 there is “An Address Read at the Opening of a Sisters’ Bible Class” by C. H. J. (Sister Jannaway, probably) and this she read herself. However, the explanation is given:

Let us not suppose that our meeting is the Church, or that it is in any way public. It is simply a private gathering of sisters. We assemble in this hall as a matter of convenience, but the hall does not in any way affect the private character of our meeting.

(The Christadelphian, September 1893, page 332)

The advice and teaching given by these sisters is practical, sensible, spiritual, and well worth the attention of brothers too, which is no doubt why the texts of these addresses were printed in The Christadelphian.


‘Getting Round’ Scriptural Injunctions

The above occasion may not have been attended by any members of the public, and no brothers were present, but to speak to a large audience can hardly be described as not in public!

And we should ask:


(1) Is a meeting exclusively of sisters not a meeting of the Church?


(2) Should such a meeting from which brothers are excluded not be considered contrary to the unity of the ecclesia, or even an example of sisters usurping authority by not permitting brothers to be present?


(3) Does speaking to a meeting in a public hall, albeit a private meeting, not constitute public speaking?


The reasons for holding sisters’ classes are excellent in themselves: to enable sisters to speak and discuss aloud, and thus benefit from study, preparation and mutual interchange of views in the same way as brothers do at Bible Classes.

But on the other hand, if sisters should not teach because Eve was deceived, if they should keep silent, if they should ask their husbands at home if they wish to know anything, surely sisters classes are as much avoiding these commands as if brothers were present?

The assertions about public/private teaching were a way of justifying a course of action by arguing that there was no technical breach of a Scriptural injunction. Much the same has often been done since. Sometimes Bible Classes are opened in prayer, a talk is given by a brother, then the class is closed in prayer – so that sisters can then take part in the discussion. It is considered no longer a meeting of the ecclesia (the meeting having been closed in prayer), so rules that sisters must remain silent no longer apply. Likewise, those who consider sisters shouldn’t teach or give addresses do not mind sisters doing so at sisters’ classes because (it is asserted) they are not meetings of the ecclesia. Or sisters can take part in discussions at ecclesial afternoon “fellowships”, where the Bible is read round and discussed, but, again, this is not a meeting of the whole ecclesia, so the rule is considered not to count.

Sisters teach brothers and sisters by writing articles in Christadelphian magazines, but then, again, this is classified as not teaching in the ecclesia, and since the magazines are usually edited by a brother it is claimed that it is not really the sisters who do the teaching but the brother who publishes their articles. All such arguments seek to “get round” the prohibitions while claiming to uphold them. Would it not be better to say, as Robert Roberts said about female head-dress, that the issue was viewed one way in ancient times “considering the extreme seclusion of the female sex in the social customs of those countries” (The Christadelphian, April 1895, page 140), but should be seen in a different light today? Is it not better to argue that “circumstances alter cases”, as sister Oriana Turney in Mississippi said (The Christadelphian, July 1, 1883, page 315)? Restrictions listed in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2 are applicable not to the cases of sisters giving addresses (as did Sister Jane Roberts and Sister Jannaway), but to cases of disruptive, uneducated women who were causing the problems in Corinth and Ephesus.


The message restricting women (as given to and for some of the ancient ecclesias) was appropriate in the situations to which it was applied. But in different situations, a different application is right and necessary. If we read 1 Corinthians 14 in its context, being aware that it is addressed to all the brothers and sisters (1 Corinthians 1:2), it is clear that “circumstances alter cases” there too, for in his description of how ecclesial meetings were organised in Corinth, Paul expresses his approval of both brothers and sisters speaking in an orderly fashion. He objects only if too many people speak at once.


This is what I mean, my brothers and sisters [adelphoi]. When you meet for worship, one person has a hymn, another a teaching, another a revelation from God, another a message in strange tongues, and still another the explanation of what is said. Everything must be of help to the church. ... All of you may proclaim God’s message, one by one, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged.

(1 Corinthians 14:26, 31, GNB, 1994 edition)

The Good News Bible correctly translates adelphoi as “brothers and sisters”, just as “Christadelphians” means “brothers and sisters in Christ”. And Paul quite specifically writes “All of you...”. Is not the Mississippi description very close to that of Corinth at its best?


Support for Christadelphian Sisters’ Involvement in Public Speaking and Teaching

When we look at writings of others within the Christadelphian community, we find that many have examined the issue and have supported fuller involvement for sisters.


Thomas Nisbet of Glasgow for many years published a Christadelphian magazine called The Investigator, to which leading brothers in Britain and overseas contributed articles and comments. His Editorial for January 1895 discussed “The Disabilities of Women as Teachers in the Church”.

He said:

It has hitherto been generally assumed that Paul at least did not suffer a woman to teach in church ; but the matter seems to me one which calls for reconsideration, and I propose to examine here in detail those passages of scripture which are regarded as having a bearing upon the question. ...

There are but two such passages in the New Testament....

(The Investigator, Vol. X, No 37, January 1895, page 2)

He examined 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and considered that this passage referred to wives who “talked or chattered in church, which, of course, Paul forbade.” On the second passage, 1 Timothy 2:11-12, he wrote:

The next passage reads:– “Let a wife (gune) in quietness be learning, in all submission ; and I am not permitting a wife (gune) to be teaching nor to be domineering over a husband, but to be in quietness.” The “church” idea is not present to the mind of Paul here ; he is not talking of any particular gathering, but of apparel (see verse 9), and general deportment. As far as I can understand Paul here, it appears to me that he says it is (or should be) the man’s place to teach his wife, not the wife’s place to teach the man, nor indeed to obtrude herself in any unbecoming manner where husbands are concerned. As to what is unbecoming, custom will largely determine, and husbands will doubtless differ as to where the line is to be drawn. (Ibid, pages 2-3)


We have indicated in earlier chapters that the range of possibilities on these two passages is considerably greater than Thomas Nisbet examines. He does not pick up on the positive New Testament passages which encourage women to teach:

The answer to the question “Are women permitted to teach in church?” is to be answered according to the evidence thus:—She is not specially forbidden. The evidence which is supposed to exclude her is found irrelevant. It speaks about something else ; and not of women as such, but of wives.

He then advocates sisters’ active participation in Christadelphian meetings and his conclusion deserves acceptance:

The wise will learn from any and every source, losing sight of the instrument in the message itself ; and if the women can teach us men in any direction, by all means let them begin at once in the church. I think we might learn much from women if they would express their views upon things more, in all our meetings. It would be so much more pleasant to have the monotony varied by the softer tones of a woman’s voice speaking to edification, than to be subjected always and everywhere to the harsher tones and harsher thoughts of one of the sterner sex. And a man, it must be confessed, does not always speak to the edification of his hearers. From this point of view, our teaching must always be more or less defective—so long as woman is excluded from the privilege of publicly expressing her view of things, since we are thus without the advantage which comes from “hearing the other side”; and woman—and it must be confessed not without advantage to the man—does not always look at a matter as a man would do.


Thomas Nisbet considered that women’s “disabilities” were of a positive kind:

Domestic duties and maternal cares preclude the wife from situations where the man is fit, and the sentiment of the age, although it is changing with the advent of the New Woman, is still strongly against being taught by women—married or single. .... Whether woman may ever come to teach in the church or not, she must always have her special work in the moulding, by means of home teaching of much raw material in the young, and fill a place where man cannot for a moment compete with her.


Interestingly and perceptively, Thomas Nisbet was aware of prejudice in himself, despite his advocacy of women as teachers:

But I must, when all is said, confess to a share of that miserable feeling which seems, generally speaking, to possess the sterner sex regarding woman’s sphere and influence, for I have a measure of antipathy to women as public teachers, but why, I don’t quite know—a mere prejudice, I presume.

(All quotes from The Investigator, January 1895, page 3)


The position taught by Thomas Nisbet is the logical continuation of that held by the sister from Mississippi, as it is of the encouragement by Robert Roberts in 1896 of “a wise woman’s influence and a wise woman’s voice”. When we no longer live in the same situation as that to which the two restrictive passages are addressed, the way is clear for the full involvement of sisters.






The following account appeared in 1895 about the new meeting room for Dudley, Queen’s Cross, Christadelphian Ecclesia:

The builder engaged for the work requested us to select some one to lay the first stone. This was a new idea to us as Christadelphians, but after some thought we decided to invite our aged sister Clements to perform the office, she being the first-fruits of Dudley some twenty-four or twenty-five years ago, and the oldest Christadelphian in this district at the present time. Our sister having consented, the stone was duly laid on Monday, October 28th, in the presence of myself and others, our sister Clements offering up a short prayer to the effect that God would grant all who should worship in the building to be erected on that stone, might themselves be as lively stones growing up into a spiritual house, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. The site is at Queen’s Cross. “Dudley Christadelphian Church” will be cut on stone at the front, and we hope to be ready for our opening services on the first Sunday in the new year, if the Lord permit.[4]

            (The Fraternal Visitor, Vol X, No 122, November 1895, page 346)


Christadelphian Mutual Improvement Societies

That sisters could speak and teach to both brothers and sisters as early as the first decade of the 20th century is evidenced by printed reports of the meetings of the Christadelphian Mutual Improvement Societies Union. For example:


BIRMINGHAM ... We had a very pleasing change on May 2nd, listening with much gratification to an excellent essay on “the Authenticity of the Four Greater Epistles of the Apostle Paul,” from the pen of our fellow-member, Sis. May Hadley. At the conclusion of her reading our sister was very warmly thanked for what was considered an extremely concise and well-reasoned statement of the subject.

(The Fraternal Visitor, Vol XX, No 236, May 1905, page 145)


Further on in this report from Birmingham these meetings are described as “seasons of help and instruction”.


In December 1906 it was reported:

In connection with the arrangements for the proposed Conference of the Mutual Improvement Societies’ Union at Birmingham next Whitsuntide, the question has been raised of whether the participation of female members in the discussions of these societies is in contravention of the teaching of the Apostle Paul, who commands: “Let your women keep silence in the churches.”


The editors pointed out the arguments used by both sides; in favour of the participation of sisters the editors gave the following justification:

... the whole context shows that the apostle is writing about the orderly conduct of meetings of “the churches” ; that his counsel is fully honoured by all the modern Ecclesias, and that in an outside assembly, such as a mutual improvement society, a female member may contribute her information to the common stock of the company, so long as she does not do so in any dictatorial spirit tending to violation of the Divine appointment respecting the relation of the sexes.


By calling the mutual improvement class “an outside assembly”, the same argument was being used as that involved in closing a meeting in prayer so that sisters may then speak. A better justification needs to be presented if the practice is to carry conviction.


On 1 Timothy it was commented:

Women are, and ever have been, “teachers,” but apostolically it must be in a way which does not involve unwomanliness, or usurpation of dominion over a man.

The editors invited comment and concluded:

... there are other Scriptures also bearing upon the matter ; and what we would have our readers turn their attention to is whether in the light of all of them the procedure of the mutual improvement societies is in violation of Divine rule. Upon this we should be glad to hear from them. If it can be shown that it is, or even that a grave doubt relates to it, we have every confidence that the societies affected will be ready to amend their rules. But in all these questions we have need of forbearance and patience one with another, and an avoidance of sitting in judgment on our fellows.

(The Fraternal Visitor, December 1906, pages 359-360)


Replies from brothers L. G. Thirtle (Clapham), W. D. Jardine (Birmingham), Kirkland (Derby), and W. H. Forty (Cheltenham) defended the participation of sisters, though with varying explanations. (The Fraternal Visitor, “Our Mutual Improvement Societies – Participation of Lady Members” February 1907, page 43-46.)

Arguing against the participation of sisters, Bro F. Udale of Derby wrote:

When a mixed number of persons meet together for edification in the things that belong to God, there must first of all be order according to the law of God, and the law in this case is (I Cor. xiv. 34 and 35; I Tim. ii. 11 and 12). Why try to wrestle with the plain declaration? Let your women keep silence in the churches. “Adam was first formed, then Eve,” and Paul’s advice to Timothy (I Tim. iii.) excludes women altogether from taking a prominent part in preaching the Word. ....

Man is for strength, judgment, and achievement. Woman is for grace, sympathy, and ministration.

(Fraternal Visitor, “Our Mutual Improvement Societies –

 Participation of Lady Members” March 1907, page 80)

These arguments (which ignore context so noticeably) are not Christadelphian in origin but those of centuries of Christendom beforehand, while the last of these statements could almost have come directly from pagan authors. To assert that “grace, sympathy, and ministration” are intended to apply to women and not to men can hardly be considered fair Biblical exposition.


C. C. Walker, by then editor of The Christadelphian magazine, no doubt in response to the practice at Mutual Improvement Classes, gave the following reply in “Answers to Correspondents”:



A. B. asks: “Does Paul mean keep silence only in the assembly for breaking of bread? or will it include other meetings: take, for instance, a Bible class?”


ANSWER.–No such restriction as named is contemplated in the apostolic injunction. It would be manifestly improper for a woman to preach or pray in public at any other meetings than those for the breaking of bread. The expression “under obedience” indicates the spirit of the matter. No woman worth the name of a sister would insist on breaking silence in face of the apostolic writing. In a Bible class, a sister might put questions through a brother or in writing. Paul’s regulation was not intended to discourage women, but to eliminate the disorders that were current in the Corinthian ecclesia. It requires careful handling nowadays.

(The Christadelphian, November 1904, pages 502-503)


It is interesting to observe how much the major content of 1 Corinthians is missed, and two words are chosen as “the spirit of the matter”. Note the heavy pressure on women: “No woman worth the name of a sister...”. Note how women praying and prophesying in 1 Corinthians 11 are ignored, and there is no recognition of the participation of sisters in 1 Corinthians 14:26. There is an awareness, however, that these restrictions on women are under challenge: “It requires careful handling nowadays.”


A further negative note was introduced:


The following resolution was passed on March 5th, at a meeting of managing brethren in Birmingham:– “That in view of a feeling of offence given to some of our brethren, the Managing Committee do hereby add to their previous declaration [i.e., affirming that women ought not to take part as speakers in meetings of the church] an expression that we have no desire to see women taking part in public assemblies ; and we recommend the female members of Mutual Improvement Societies not to participate in discussions under circumstances which may be open to misconstruction.”

(Fraternal Visitor, “Our Mutual Improvement Societies –

 Participation of Lady Members” March 1907, page 80)

Participation by sisters did continue, however. And this was not only in the Suffolk Street fellowship. The 1914 Programme for the Sheffield Christadelphian Mutual Improvement Society (Temperance Hall Ecclesia meeting in Devonshire Hall) lists three sisters as speakers.[5] Likewise at Derby (Temperance Hall) sisters prepared and delivered papers.



Approval of Wider Participation by Sisters


In 1929 Estella Blackmore of Bournville Ecclesia, Birmingham, wrote an article on “The Position of Women in the Church” as part of a series titled “Let us Reason Together”:


Our religious contemporaries overcome the difficulty of lack of time by appointing a paid minister, who gives the whole of his training, time and energy to the work of his Church. This may appear to be a satisfactory solution of the problem, but it has its drawbacks, and we prefer not to adopt it. What have we in its place? A system by which practically all ecclesial work is done by a few selected from just two-fifths of the community—the male section. We attempt so much and achieve so little, probably because we curtail the number of our workers. Surely when we attempt so much, and are so handicapped for time, it behoves us to use all the workers available. Our assembly consists of two brethren to every three sisters, and of these, the one brother does practically all the work of any moment, the other four-fifths are, to a large extent, inactive. How can we expect to achieve the best which is possible?


Amongst our sisters there ... is ... a small section who appear to be quite content to leave all the work to others, and find their pleasure in trivial things. ... A far larger section is filled with a keen desire to serve, but find themselves hindered and prevented by the influence of a few mistaken brethren who have tried their hardest to suppress the sisters in many directions. To these sisters one would say: Do not be discouraged: the younger generation are awakening to their responsibilities, they are learning to think for themselves, and are moving to co-ordinate all that is good and logical and true. We need the help of our sisters in the work of the truth. They are of equal value to us as our brethren, and it is a duty of the brethren to see that they do not drift from us for lack of opportunities for exercising their gifts.


The last and largest section of the sisterhood consists of those who are quite willing to do what they can, but owing to the uninformed criticism of some brethren in the past they have retired into their shells, afraid of giving offence. They will require much persuasion before they can enter into a fuller life in the Truth.


... It has been assumed by some brethren that the suppression of women within the Church was the express teaching of the apostles. No doubt these brethren have been quite sincere in their convictions, but it is possible for them to have been mistaken.


Many have read letters which were written by Christ’s early followers, to certain sections in their own day, as though they were written to all types of present day people. The passage I. Cor. xiv. 34 is often quoted: “Let the women keep silence in the churches...” .... This verse has nothing to do with women taking a proper part in a church service, but refers only to a disturbance. In the meeting places of the Jews, the women sat by themselves ; and as their service was the same ritual over and over again, during the service the women were often talking to one another. But the Christian assembly was in spirit, and so Paul instructed them not to be chattering.


.... On the other hand we have the apostle making a definite inference in I. Cor.xi. 13, where he says, “Judge in yourselves ; is it seemly that a woman pray unto God unveiled?” This could only have reference to the public assembly, and if Paul did not countenance the participation of women in public services, the verse has no meaning. ....


In the light of the part played by women in Paul’s days, and in view of his own teaching, one wonders how he would view things to-day if he could visit some of our meetings and hear how his words have been wrested from their context to support a contrary practice. Surely he would be very grieved.


Now the question naturally arises as to how much the sisters should attempt. As they are on a spiritual equality with the brethren, should they aim at doing all the duties which are now performed by brethren? This is neither necessary nor desirable. There is a sufficiently large scope for sisters to exercise their latent talent without necessarily undertaking every manly duty. The guiding principle should be suitability.


In visiting various ecclesias I have learned of many duties undertaken by sisters which are usually performed by brethren. In one ecclesia the Managing Committee consists of both brethren and sisters. Two ecclesias have a sister for secretary. One small ecclesia, for a fairly long period of time, depended on two sisters for the reading of the chapters at the Sunday morning services. Evidently these ecclesias considered that the work was of more account than the worker. And so it should always be. The work is the thing that matters. Where a sister can do a particular piece of work better than a brother, it cannot be wrong for her to do it. Where an ecclesia has three sisters to every two brethren, would it not be an advantage to have the sisters’ help and their point of view represented on the committee which manages that ecclesia?


.... The advantage to the brethren, if the sisters took a more active part in ecclesial work, is obvious. The advantage to the truth itself would naturally follow. It remains for the brethren to do their part by giving all the encouragement possible. For it takes a brave heart indeed to make a pioneer, particularly when the pioneer seeks no personal aggrandisement, but looks rather to follow an ideal in all humility of spirit.

(“The Position of Women in the Church”, E. L. Blackmore, Bournville,

The Fraternal Visitor, November 1929, pages 287-290.)


In December 1929, Estella Blackmore commented:


Since writing in the November issue of the Fraternal Visitor on the position of women in the Church, I have had expressions of opinion from various brethren, both by letter and by word of mouth. The consensus of opinion expressed by them is to the effect that the old prejudice on this subject has largely disappeared, owing to a more enlightened reading of the Scriptures during recent years.

(The Fraternal Visitor, December 1929, page 318)


On the same page, James Melville (Barrow-in-Furness Ecclesia), described by the editor as “a brother of long standing” wrote:


I have read with pleasure the article by Sister Blackmore ... relative to “The Position of Women in the Ecclesia,” as I have entertained such views for over thirty years.


In March 1930 Sister Blackmore commented further:


.... I have had many more letters on the above subject from brethren of long standing in the Truth. Without exception, these all strongly adhere to the position upheld in the November issue. I have not heard one word of adverse criticism. What does this indicate? Do these brethren represent the trend of opinion throughout the brotherhood? If so, is the matter going to stop there? Writing and speaking are of little value if unaccompanied by deeds, for “by their fruits ye shall know them.” If it is wrong to hide our light under a bushel, it must be doubly wrong to force others to hide their light.

The sisters, generally, seem greatly desirous of taking a more active part in the work of the Ecclesias, but hesitate to cause offence to those brethren who hold to the attitude of fifty years ago. But, after all, why be so concerned about the displeasure of man? It is God’s displeasure we should fear to incur, as it is God’s work in which we seek to take part. Courage is needful ; but that is quite a small matter when we consider that we have the Apostle Paul on our side, and when we contemplate the wonderful attitude of Christ Himself to the women of His day.

(E. L. Blackmore, The Fraternal Visitor, March 1930, page 72)[6]


Disapproval of Wider Participation by Sisters


If Estella Blackmore and her approving brothers of long standing felt the attitude in 1930 had changed from 50 years previously, not all agreed. John Carter, later editor of The Christadelphian, had once been in Suffolk Street and had transferred to Temperance Hall in 1915. Forty years later he commented:


I always felt when I was in the Suffolk Street fellowship that sisters giving papers to mixed classes was a mark of laxity.

 (John Carter, Letter to Ruth McHaffie, 1st May 1956)


Sister Blackmore, however, presented her view not on a basis of laxity but on a basis of understanding the context of Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy.


John Carter added in the above letter: “Please do not put me in the class of women haters, or anything like that” and he printed articles from sisters. However, sisters with the enthusiasm to write in The Christadelphian, and thereby to teach, were tackled over the years by two brothers, Viner Hall and Philip Hall. Their aim was to dissuade sisters from holding a position “on the platform of magazines”. Philip wrote and complained to husbands of sisters who wrote articles in The Christadelphian, while Viner wrote directly to the sisters, in words such as the following:


Moreover, woman’s nature and constitution is such that her character and disposition is marred when she enters the lists in competition with men in the conduct of public affairs; and especially so when she is allowed to occupy a position of equality (as a speaker) on the spiritual platform of a magazine which exists exclusively to teach in the churches. It gives such sisters a prestige in the meeting (I have witnessed the evil myself) which is inconsistent with their God appointed position of humility and submission in which the Divine model of true femininity and beauty is manifested and sustained (I Peter 3:1-6). [Italics his.]


It would be reasonable to comment on the above that sisters who write and speak are not entering “the lists in competition with men” but seeking to offer their service to God. One wonders at the male mind which seems to feel threatened in that it talks of “competition”. And if a sister who speaks well or writes well runs the risk of a little self-pride, do not brothers who write do likewise? Are not humility and submission to one another the virtues which brothers should also have?

Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves.                                                           (Philippians 2:3)

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)


‘Getting Round’ Inconvenient Verses

Viner Hall belonged to a small Christadelphian fellowship known as the Family Journal fellowship. His view that writing in The Christadelphian is the same as teaching is a valid one. The argument that it is not really teaching is an attempt to ‘get round’ the obvious in an effort to uphold the status quo (i.e. that sisters may write articles in magazines). At business meetings, in ecclesias where 1 Corinthians 14 is considered an absolute ban on sisters even asking a question, another commonly used method of ‘getting round’ the prohibition is for a sister either to ask her husband to say something or to pass a written note to a brother.


W. G. Butterfield headed another Christadelphian subdivision called “The Remnant of Christ’s Ecclesia”. He wrote:


We believe the command that sisters must be silent in the Ecclesia is clear and definite, and to nullify this command by using slips of paper or a brother to express their views in the Ecclesia is a wicked attempt to make void the command.

(W. G. Butterfield, Are Christadelphians Astray?, page 17)


In the Temperance Hall fellowship Brother Barnard wrote in similarly dismissive terms:


Why then have the “oracles of God” been entrusted to men rather than to women? Because her Edenic sin has stamped the woman with its accompanying weakness, namely, susceptibility to deception. In Divine things especially, women are more easily deceived than men. There is, at bottom, a credulous mysticity, a proneness to superstition deeply ingrained in feminine nature... This predominant strain in woman’s nature, combined with her strong material and affinitive tendencies towards emotion rather than reason, unfits her for any kind of leadership in Divine or even political matters.                                  (The Testimony, April 1956)


This seems to owe more to pagan Aristotle or the Early Church Fathers or to the Scottish reformer John Knox than to the oracles of God. Eve at least put up an argument against the Serpent, while Adam apparently made no effort to follow the commandment he had been given. And insofar that women (if we can generalise) may show more readiness to emotion and sympathy, for example, should we not see this as part of God’s creation declared to be very good (Genesis 1:31), part of God’s purpose in creating a suitable companion because it was and is “not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18)? To demean sisters in the manner quoted above is also (though doubtless unintentionally) to criticise God’s wisdom in creation.


The comments by brothers Butterfield and Barnard verge on misogyny. Observe the intimidating language: “wicked attempt”. Statements like the above restrict and oppress women, and are merely dogmatic assertions. They fail to represent adequately the letter of the New Testament, and certainly fail to catch its spirit of freedom and service. We are back to the Pharisees and their rules and their heavy condemnation of others, of whom Jesus said:


They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.

(Matthew 23:4)


When is Teaching not Teaching?

The inconsistency of allowing sisters to teach publicly in writing, but objecting when they do so at meetings and conferences, was pointed out again in 1989 in the correspondence section of The Christadelphian:


... you condemn the inclusion of a sister as one of the three main Study leaders on Scriptural grounds, presumably on Paul’s words of “I suffer not a woman to teach”. Yet a few pages earlier in the magazine you include the teachings of a sister to be circulated to the entire brotherhood.... Maybe you can see a difference between the teaching of a sister by writing rather than by speaking, but to me this is the sort of argument which might well have been a teaching of the Pharisees.

                                                            (Frank Dilley, Totnes, South Devon)


Michael Ashton, editor, gave the following response:


There is no more an inconsistency in condemning the decision to allow a sister to take a leading part in a study weekend while publishing an article written by a sister than exists when 1 Timothy 2:12, “I suffer not a woman to teach”, is compared with Titus 2:3, where the Apostle encourages “aged women” to be “teachers of good things”. The context of the Apostle’s words explains the situation. In his first letter to the Corinthians he states clearly: “Let your women keep silence in the churches ... it is a shame for women to speak in the church:” (1 Corinthians 14:34,35). The question does not turn on the thousands who can read a magazine article compared to the tens who may attend a study weekend, nor is it a legalistic view based on the difference between writing and speaking. God has ordained that in communal worship the errors committed in Eden by both man and women [sic] should be recognised by the attitude of their sons and daughters. Woman is not to usurp the man’s authority as Eve did, and man is to proclaim God’s Word as Adam failed properly to do. By conforming to this command, testimony is given to the fact that “Christ Jesus ... gave himself a ransom for all” (see 1 Timothy 2:5,6).

(The Christadelphian, April 1989, page 149)


If we examine this answer, we find as with that given by Robert Roberts, that different texts are run together and though context is confidently mentioned, the overall contexts are not taken into account. Note, again, how the word “clearly” is used (although the passage is obscure both in its context and in its position in the original text). A matter of interpretation is presented as fact: “God has ordained...”. Note how “in the churches” or “in the church” has been changed into “in communal worship”. Note how it is assumed that correct and Godly teaching by a sister can be described as “usurping authority”, even if done with her husband’s encouragement and approval. In Eden, the woman did not “usurp the man’s authority”: both tried to usurp God’s authority. And the inconsistency is still there: if “man is to proclaim God’s Word” (not woman) is it not pharisaical to say that the woman may do so to thousands in writing in a magazine despite Paul’s comment “I suffer not a woman to teach”? When questioned on another occasion about this inconsistency, a different answer was given: that since the editor is a man, the article though written by a sister is really the editor’s.


Circumstances Do Change Cases

Such arguments rely too much on assumptions and fail to address the issues adequately either from a Scriptural position or from a textual one. Would it not be more logical to argue that women should not write articles? Since, however, the practice is well established, and it is agreed that their articles are profitable, would it not be better to agree with the sister who wrote to The Christadelphian in 1888 that circumstances change cases; the context of 1 Timothy is different from today; and sensible teaching by sisters (whether written or spoken) in no way usurps authority or undermines testimony to the saving work of Jesus. Nor does it undermine Paul’s reference to Genesis if Paul is describing a parallel situation: ill-informed women (like Eve) should not teach. When properly educated in spiritual things (“let a woman learn”, 1 Timothy 2:11), the matter is different. Hence such women can be “teachers of good things” (Titus 2:3), and serve the community acceptably by writing in The Christadelphian and edifying the ecclesia by their words.

In the reports of sisters’ talks in The Fraternal Visitor, it is obvious that their work was appreciated, that they were not considered to be domineering over brothers, and that the sisters engaged in a valuable spiritual activity. The reports above are also valuable in that the magazine of a large section of the Christadelphian brotherhood was prepared to allow fair discussion of both sides of the argument, and itself give support in favour of the participation of sisters.


Sisters continued to give talks throughout the 20th century. With reunion of the two fellowships (Suffolk Street and Temperance Hall) in 1957, there was some drawing back in order to pursue unity by uniformity. Since reunion, though sisters have participated widely, most magazines have not been prepared to present the positive case for speaking by sisters but have regularly argued the case against. Even so, a more positive attitude is now shown to the character and abilities of sisters:


The qualities of care and compassion which are inherent in women are highly beneficial when directed towards spiritual ends. Often sisters have a sensitivity which brethren lack, and which can be advantageous to the edification of our community life.

(Michael Ashton, The Christadelphian, November 1993, page 425)


These same qualities would usefully enhance public worship and communal prayer, and 1 Corinthians 11-14 suggests that is what happened in the first century.


Different Interpretations of Biblical Practices

Those who involve sisters in speaking and teaching have been accused of “unbiblical practices”, but it would be more appropriately respectful to the Christadelphian brotherhood to speak of different interpretations of Biblical practices. Our review through the last 120 years shows considerable differences in approach. Sisters have always played a smaller speaking part than brothers, as was also the case in the earliest ecclesias, and the vehemence with which their participation is attacked even today helps to uphold this situation. Nevertheless, it remains true that the interpretation that sisters should remain silent is not universal Christadelphian teaching or practice.


[1] When Robert Roberts moved to Birmingham in 1864 and was seeking employment he twice used a testimonial from Birmingham MP John Bright (My Days and My Ways, Robert Roberts, pages 128 & 132). John Bright voted in favour of John Stuart Mill’s amendment on women’s suffrage in 1867. His brother, Jacob Bright, MP, moved the amendment to the Municipal Corporation Bill which succeeded in 1869 in giving women the vote in municipal elections. Robert Roberts as a newspaper reporter was well informed on the thinking of his day and the enlightened attitude he shows towards women is in accord with those who sought reform. Just as Robert Roberts was influenced on slavery by reading “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, it is reasonable to think that he was influenced by the parliamentary reform speakers in his attitude to voting by both brothers and sisters in making ecclesial appointments. (We are grateful to Neil Hallett for supplying the historical background.)

[2] It has been suggested that she was an “arranging brother” because there were no other brothers there at the time. According to details printed in The Christadelphian, by the time Robert Roberts visited Wanganui those recorded there were Brother and Sister Hayward, Brother Beaumont, Brother Henry Holmes, Brother and Sister Dexter, Brother and Sister Taylor and Brother and Sister Mays (6 brothers and 4 sisters). (Thanks to Peter Lawton for extracting this information from the electronic version of The Christadelphian.)


[3] And it wasn’t only on the public platform:

New Rule – The Duke of Cambridge has declined to fulfil an arrangement to preside at the approaching annual banquet of the Royal Caledonian Asylum on account of his objection to the new rule whereby ladies are allowed to dine in public with gentlemen.” (The Scotsman, 22nd March 1883)

[4] Hannah Clements is the great, great, great grandmother of Rob Clements, Horley Ecclesia. In drawing this to our attention he wrote – quite rightly, we think: “I can’t help feeling rather proud of her!”

[5] In 1885 the Christadelphian movement split into two fellowships, known as Suffolk Street and Temperance Hall. This division was healed in 1957.

The Fraternal Visitor was published by the Suffolk Street fellowship, The Christadelphian by Temperance Hall. On reunion, The Fraternal Visitor was discontinued and its editor Cyril Cooper (whose wife Mary had regularly spoken at classes in Watford Ecclesia) joined the committee of The Christadelphian.

[6] Estella Blackmore (Stella) was a founder member of Bournville Ecclesia, Birmingham. She was secretary of “The Letter League” which wrote to brothers and sisters in isolation – like “The Isolation League” today. She was a school teacher, ran a choir, and was a keen weaver. She did weaving and sold it to raise money to build Bournville ecclesial hall.

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