Encouraging Education… and Equality: Mary and Clara Hoffman

At a time when the denomination was run almost entirely by men, Clara (seated) and Mary Hoffman were pioneers, promoting education and equality.

Regrettably, the history of the Brethren in Christ Church is all too often exactly that: his-story, a story of men who gave leadership, cast vision, and guided the denomination to new areas of insight and work.

But it would be remiss to suggest that women leaders did not play an essential role in the story of the church; in fact, examples about: At a time when women were barred from pastoral service, Rhoda Lee and Frances Davidson stirred the conscience of the Brethren in Christ toward international evangelistic outreach; Sarah Bert led the work of the Chicago Mission and pioneered the denomination’s burgeoning urban ministry.

Now, thanks to an insightful biographical sketch by Rebecca Kasparek, we know that women also played a key role in encouraging education within the church. Kasparek’s article on Clara and Mary Hoffman describes the way that the two women, who contributed almost eight decades of combined service to Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training Home (now Messiah College), also worked to raise the profile of women not only in society but particularly within the church.

Kasparek rightly highlights a stirring quote from Mary Hoffman:

We are glad for the place women have in conducting the affairs of the world. They have entered nearly every field of labor formerly only occupied by men and are proving themselves capable of doing satisfactory work in these places.

Read Kasparek’s full article here.


About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah College. PhD student at Temple University. Member of Grantham BIC.
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