Editor’s Note: Below is an excerpt of a longer presentation I gave at the Reedwood Friends Church in 1994. To read the entire presentation you can use the link to the Word document below, or click on the “keep reading” link at the end of the excerpt – MPA.
Carole has asked me here tonight to talk about Hicksite Spirituality and the Ministry of two Hicksite women in particular, Rachel Hicks and Lucretia Mott. I feel a special connection with these two women. My role models growing up were the activist Quaker women who fought against slavery, and women who spoke early and strongly for women’s rights — women like Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony. Their work encouraged my own in women’s rights and anti-war activism. Rachel Hicks is a contemporary of their’s, but not well-known. I came across her journal many years ago as I am descended from various of the Hicks family. But her experiences were alien to me then and somewhat of a curiosity rather than a role model. I have only come to appreciate her as I have become more aware of and opened to God’s direct leadings within me and had to wrestle as she did with the nature of my own ministry.
These two women were strong, dynamic women who were very different in their personalities as well as their ministry. At times they even came into direct conflict with each other. Rachel Hicks’ travelling companion described one meeting where the large gathering included Lucretia Mott and many other abolitionists. “These Friends made a strong plea for Friends to join actively in the [anti-slavery] movement. Rachel Hicks led the opposition, and there was an animated discussion.”
These two women can also be seen as illustrating two extremes of women in the ministry among 19th century Friends. Janis Calvos in an article on “Quaker Women Ministers in Nineteenth Century America” describes how unusual Quaker women were in their freedom to preach, but how that freedom did not extend to a broad spectrum of women’s rights even within the Society of Friends of the time. Women and men still had separate business meetings and women were expected to remain within the roles of housewife and mother for the most part, except in the area of ministry.