success stories

Posted February 7, 2004

Book: A History of Women in Christian Worship
Author: Susan J. White
Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, OH, pp. 351

An excerpt from the Jacket:

In A History of Women in Christian Worship, White poses two very significant queries: How do we find women in the history of Christian worship? In what kind of spaces have women chosen to worship? To answer these questions, she uncovers a rich heritage, documenting and gathering a much-neglected, but abundant wealth of stories of women and worship.

An excerpt from the Book:

Despite persistent efforts to limit their access to worship spaces, to regulate their behavior while in worship spaces, and to define which spaces could be legitimately considered worship spaces, women have in a variety of ways made places of Christian common prayer their own. Women have felt comfortable in church buildings and passionate about the degree to which their place in church accurately mirrored their place in society. They have used their resources to furnish the liturgical environment and to memorialize themselves and their loved ones after death. They have established convent chapels and have supervised the liturgical patterns followed there. In their own homes, women have overseen feasting and fasting, family devotions and clandestine prayer meetings, and worship at the sickbed, the deathbed, and in the birthing room.

At the same time, women have been willing and able to transform different kinds of open-air places — streets and churchyards and brush arbors — into functional and potent liturgical settings. Poor and marginalized women especially have claimed authority over worship in these environments, and perhaps more importantly, in worshiping there they have challenged the barriers between church and world that the ecclesiastical establishment has persistently attempted to erect. Indeed, the ability of women to adapt the spaces in which they are most comfortable into worship settings is surely one explanation for the continued strength of Christianity in women’s lives, despite generations of officially sanctioned repression and subjugation.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1 Finding women in the history of Christian worship

Chapter 2 The places of women’s worship

Chapter 3 Women of influence

Chapter 4 The forms of women’s liturgical piety

Chapter 5. Going to church on Sundays

Chapter 6. Women, worship, and the Christian household

Chapter 7 Women and the liturgical arts

Conclusion: Knowing their place

Appendix 1 Women and “Churching”

Appendix 2 Women as patrons and benefactors

Appendix 3 Deviating from liturgical norms and standards

Appendix 4 The Field-Matron’s tale

Appendix 5 The Peasants’ Tale