This Lent we are sharing stories from around the world celebrating the women in our lives who have inspired us.
Today’s story comes from Sarah Braisdell, a history graduate from both Bangor University and the University of Sheffield. Sarah is currently working with Methodist Women in Britain (MWiB) as their Heritage and Archives Researcher, helping to tell the story of women working together in British Methodism. Sarah shares the story of her inspirational woman, Mrs Caroline Wiseman:
As part of my work with Methodist Women in Britain I have come across the inspirational woman Mrs Caroline Wiseman. Mrs Wiseman took over as Secretary of The Ladies’ Auxiliary for Female Education (later known as Women’s Work) in 1874 and fulfilled this role until her death in 1912. She has been described as the most notable Wesleyan woman of the nineteenth century and a great example of what a Christian woman can achieve. In her I have found a new heroine, and as a Methodist woman I am ashamed that I didn’t know anything of her before; she was strong-willed, determined and a woman ahead of her time.
At a time when women didn’t follow a profession or even have the right to vote, Mrs Wiseman was the first woman to be elected to a School Board following the Education Act of 1870. She brought this forward-thinking attitude to her work in Methodism; in her years as Secretary she extended the work of the Ladies’ Auxiliary to include medical work as well as education, she visited great swathes of the mission field, increased the annual income and the numbers of women involved in the home organisation dramatically. Perhaps her most significant legacy is the Easter Offering, which still plays an important role in the Methodist Church and the work of MWiB.
Mrs Wiseman was a woman who valued the past but lived for the future; with this vision she transformed the women’s movement in Methodism into a modern and effective movement. This is why she inspires me – we must learn to value the past, our history and our heritage, but use this wisely to inform our future and not allow it to hold us back. I believe all future generations of Methodist women have a lot to thank Mrs Wiseman for.
We invite you and your church to celebrate the women in your lives who inspire you in support of the many who are often overlooked. Our free worship resource pack will enable you to hold a service focused on celebrating inspirational women. It also gives your congregation the opportunity to reflect on and pray for the challenging situations many women across the world face, and enables them to give gifts inspired by the women in their own lives.