Religion & American Culture
The Calvinist Church of Worcester, Massachusetts, grew out of the frustration of three wealthy women who had been excluded in 1816 from the process of selecting a new minister, Charles A. Goodrich, for the First Congregational Church. Elizabeth Salisbury and Rebecca and Sarah Waldo found Goodrich insufficiently masculine and wondered about his orthodoxy. They rejected the decision of the church's deacons and minister to block their transfer to another congregation. In 1820, they won a reversal of this decision and founded the new church. The women had not explicitly challenged the subordination of women, but their actions amounted to this. Although the charter of the new church gave the three women veto power over the selection of future ministers, it did not give women a formal voice in the selection of ministers. Nevertheless, women voted in each selection prior to the Civil War.
Original Publication Citation
Lawes, C. J. (1998). Trifling with holy time: Women and the formation of the Calvinist Church of Worcester, Massachusetts, 1815-1820. Religion & American Culture, 8(1), 117-144. doi:10.2307/1123916
Lawes, Carolyn J., "Trifling With Holy Time: Women and the Formation of the Calvinist Church of Worcester, Massachusetts, 1815-1820" (1998). History Faculty Publications. 26.