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Woman: Her Place and Power (War Cry 1918)

Posted March 13, 2019

This article, written just over 100 years ago, illustrates the supreme confidence that Mrs. May Lieut-Colonel McInnes had in the abilities of women, and the ability The Salvation Army had in causing women to flourish in their gifts for the Gospel's sake.

Woman: Her Place and Power by Mrs. May Lieut.-Colonel McInnes, National Secretary for the Women’s Home League, originally printed in The War Cry, April 6, 1918 (Page 2)

Ours is a day in which the capacities, the claims, and the dignity of women are acknowledged as never before. We would ask our friends to look on a true picture of the condition of woman before the advent of Christ–to behold her as she is found amoung the Pagan and Mahommedan peoples of today­–and they cannot but rejoice at her superior position amongst us.

Christianity has proved itself to be woman’s truest friend. It has been to her an elevating force; quietly, but certainly it has been securing to her the place, the power and the honour so long and so unjustly withheld. She can now stand by man’s side–walk the same path, and have her individuality and rights honored without asserting them.

The gates of science, art and all the professions are open to her. The world is before her, ­she can climb the heights from which she can survey the many and varied departments of human life; she can choose her sphere, and take that for which her talents have the truest adaptation.

'Christianity has proved itself to be woman’s truest friend. It has been to her an elevating force; quietly, but certainly it has been securing to her the place, the power and the honour so long and so unjustly withheld.'

Woman’s Capacity and Tastes

Women, as well as men, have their own peculiar capacities and tastes; but devoted application is essential to proficiency, and proficiency is indispensable. There must be no trusting to natural abilities; there must be work–­real, persistent work. By earnest work difficulties are surmounted, and supposed impossibilities become joyous facts in life.

One of the most promising signs of the times is the attention that is given to woman’s work in the spread of the Gospel of Jesus. Her power is recognized, and her services are solicited in such a way as they have not been since the first ages of the Christian Church.

'The Army would not have attained its present dimensions, nor have wrought its grand work among the masses of a sin-degraded people but for the policy the General pursued in the employment of women.'

Ministry of Women

In our ranks she has ever held and worthy and honorable position; by her ministry and holy living she has shed a rich spiritual influence–has been an incalculable blessing to others, and contributed to the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. At home, and in the Mission Field abroad, she has proved herself called of God and anointed by the Holy Ghost for the accomplishment of the devotion of a ransomed soul.

Her title to the position has been certified by the excellency of her talents, the luster of her character and the unwavering fidelity with which she has ever-honored her trust.

Employment of women: The Army would not have attained its present dimensions, nor have wrought its grand work among the masses of a sin-degraded people but for the policy the General pursued in the employment of women. They have often succeeded where men would have failed. In the early days of The Army, the mobs which persecuted us would listen to a woman when they would not allow a man to speak.

Ministrations of women: The same applies to visitation: doors were open to women which were closed to men. The women displayed patience, perseverance, tact and a fine religious enthusiasm which has done them the highest honor. The Army has done much for women: and woman, by the womanly tenderness, practical sympathy, quiet intuition, courage and sacrifice, has done much for The Army. Her work is not a hobby, or a passing fancy; she had a vision of the world’s sin and misery, and received a definite call to rise from ease and selfish indifference to go forth to strike a blow for God and humanity.

Fidelity of women: Many have grown old in the services; but they retain their deep spiritual fervor which carries them forward to a consistent pursuance of duty, and enables them to say ‘No’ to all the tempting offers that come their way.

A Noble Band

Let us endeavour to find out our appropriate sphere, and, having found it, be faithful in it.

Many names occur to me which are honored and revered in every land–­of women who have nobly and bravely toiled on, under great disabilities, physical and otherwise. Some are no longer able to be in the forefront of the battle, but their influence lives. In the Homeland no name counts for so much as the name of Mrs. Booth.

Who can write the history of her work?–of the homes brightened, lives changed, broken hearts bound up, wrongs put right and prison doors opened during the years in which she was the head of our great Social Work. In her present position she is exerting a world-wide influence, and, as her dear children are following in her steps, her life will bear fruit in ages to come.

Other Officers also have the unspeakable joy of seeing their lives lived over again in their children. One of the greatest and most potent of the moulding forces of the character is in the home. As is the woman, so is the home of which she is the center and life. The condition of the home proves the woman’s character, and knowing her, you can determine what the home is, and what her children will be. They go out of the home to think like mother, to talk like mother, to live like mother. The foundation of an Empire is the home; the glory of civilisation is the homes.

We are not all adapted to step out into the path of publicity, but we can each do something. Let us endeavour to find out our appropriate sphere, and, having found it, be faithful in it.

A Persistent Question

How then can we best expend our energies to augment the spiritual power and save souls?

Numerous and varied are the answers. Some can serve God best by

  • publicly preaching the Word of God;
  • others by the teaching the young in the Y.P Corps;
  • others by singing His praises;
  • others by praying secretly and openly;
  • others by visiting the sick;
  • others by personally inviting their neighbors to the meetings.
  • The mother in the home, wielding the scepter of love, gentleness, truth and honor–fashioning the character of their offspring that she may send them out into the world, strong to do and dare for God and humanity.

May every one in her order go forward to carry out the injunction of our Master; ‘Whatsoever they hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.’

Reprinted with permission from The Salvation Army's 'The War Cry', April 6, 1918. Grateful thanks to our friends from The Salvation Army Heritage Centre & Archives. Besides the added title 'Ministry of Women' and the bolded headers beneath that section, the article remains the same as it originally appeared.