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8.12.2012

It is not good to be alone


Superintendent Dean Gregory was well and good pleased that Scotts Mills had taken on Charlotte.  He advised her to work hard (by which he meant have no life outside the work), grow the church, and that in time, he could help her move to a bigger, modern, and more urban church.  Yes, he was thinking about her career advancement, so was she. No one saw this as being unfaithful to the call of Christ.

Mr Gregory also advised Charlotte to not live alone. If marriage was not in the cards, then she needed to find a female roommate - preferably one who would be a good church worker.  The parsonage had plenty of room.

.......

I had an interesting conversation with a pastor of this same vintage and  his wife, while researching Charlotte. They knew her well and loved her. I asked them how hard it was to be a single female minister in that day. They reported that it was very hard.

Wife: You see, if a woman was a pastor, and single, she was considered to be sexually dangerous.

Husband: No honey, you mean sexually vulnerable.

Wife: I suppose dear... (looks at me and mouths - Dangerous!)


.......

The injustice of being considered dangerous for what you weren't doing, was not lost on Charlotte, but she never complained about it.  In fact, in a hundred hours of interviews and reading that I did for this project I never found one person who could repeat a single complaint, on any subject, that came from Charlotte's lips. Not even her intimates could recall one.  Not even when they tried. They all asserted that in private as well as public, she focused on what could be done, not the obstacles in the way. I think some hagiography is likely involved, but I also think that their memories reflected her character accurately.

Her brother Mahlon reported that while people in the YM did not usually criticize Charlotte directly, or even to Superintendent Gregory, who was seen as soft on the issue of female ministry, that some Friends did feel free to come to him with their  grumblings and naysaying. (he refused to repeat or credit any such remarks) He said, however, that they never got more than one chance to say these thing to him. He was a fierce defender of his sister. He was glad that Charlotte was spared the worst of the remarks. Mahlon saw this critical and oppressive tendency as being unfaithful to both the Quaker and the Holiness movements.  He believed it was an incursion of the wider post-war culture. He felt that if it were not for Dean Gregory and later Jack Willcutts, that the recording of female ministers in Oregon Yearly Meeting could have stopped completely.

Charlotte was too busy being a pastor to worry much about it. She called Dorothy Barratt who was back in Oregon and enrolled at  the new Western Evangelical Seminary in Milwaukee and convinced her to commute from Scotts Mills. Dorothy moved in that first summer that Charlotte was at Scotts Mills and immediately started teaching Sunday School. May Wallace also lived with them for a while, but then May went on to pastor up north on the Olympic Peninsula.

Dorothy Stayed.

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