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Full Members of the TEAM? Evangelical Women in the European Mission, 1945–1980


After World War II, American evangelicals realized that the European religious landscape had been seriously damaged, causing them to begin to include Europe in their mission programs. Their initiatives reversed the established direction of things, changing the pattern of who sent and who received missionary support. The religious aid flowing from the US fell almost entirely within the masculine framing of the American state, which had so recently exerted its influence in Europe in the military, economic, and cultural spheres. This essay explains how, as a result of practical experience and general social change, gender relations in American missions came to embrace greater inclusivity. European evangelicals, in turn, were both empowered by working with the American missionaries and impacted by the American debate over the separation of male and female roles in the mission field.

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1 Koop Allen V., American Evangelical Missionaries in France, 1945–1975 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986), 24, 7778 .

2 Stenning Robert E., Church World Service: Fifty Years of Help and Hope (New York: Friendly Press, 1996), 39 .

3 Loveland Anne C., American Evangelicals and the U. S. Military, 1942–1993 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997).

4 See Grubb Norman, Modern Viking: Abraham Vereide, Pioneer in Christian Leadership (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1961), 105 ; Krabbendam Hans, “Zenden en ontvangen: De vestiging van Amerikaanse christelijke jeugdbewegingen in Nederland,” in Harinck George and Krabbendam Hans, eds., A Spiritual Invasion? Amerikaanse invloeden op het Nederlandse christendom (Barneveld: De Vuurbaak, 2010), 5578, 66; Balbier Uta, “‘Youth for Christ’ in England und Deutschland: Religiöser Transnationalismus und christliche Nachkriegsordnung 1945–1948,” Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, 51 (2011), 209–24, 219.

5 Kirby Dianne, ed., Religion and the Cold War (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003); Preston Andrew, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), 440–95. Wyneken JonDavid K., “The Western Allies, German Churches, and the Emerging Cold War in Germany, 1948–1952,” in Muehlenbeck Philip E., ed., Religion and the Cold War: A Global Perspective (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2012), 1843 .

6 The first evangelical international organization was the Evangelical Alliance in 1846, dominated by England. Since then a steady stream of the Anglo-American songs, such as by Ira D. Sankey in the 1870s, helped to cement a religious vocabulary and established a dynamic repertoire of sacred songs expressing religious longing. After World War II the number of cultural exports greatly increased. Dijkerman Els, “Sing to Jesus: De rol van Amerika in de verspreiding van gospelmuziek in Nederland,” in Harinck George and Krabbendam Hans, eds., A Spiritual Invasion? Amerikaanse invloeden op het Nederlandse christendom (Barneveld: De Vuurbaak, 2010), 79108 ; Stowe David W., “Transatlantic Exchange in Protestant Revival Hymns,” in Krabbendam Hans and Rubin Derek, eds., Religion in America: European and American Perspectives (Amsterdam: VU University Press, 2004), 250–62.

7 Robert Dana Lee, “Women in World Mission: Controversies and Challenges from a North American Perspective,” International Review of Mission, 93, 1 (2004), 5061 . American women campaigned for temperance, set up schools for girls and training centers for teachers, served in hospitals, and taught children Sunday School. See Tyrrell Ian, Reforming the World: The Creation of America's Moral Empire (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010).

8 Robert Dana Lee, “The Influence of American Missionary Women on the World Back Home,” Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation, 12, 1 (2002), 59–89, 6970 .

9 Snape Michael, God and Uncle Sam: Religion and America's Armed Forces in World War II (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2015), 395, 483–86; Brereton Virginia Lieson, Training God's Army: The American Bible School, 1880–1940 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 5758 .

10 Koop, American Evangelical Missionaries in France, 42–43.

11 Du Plessis David J., “The Agonies of Europe,” Australian Evangel/Glad Tidings Messenger, 14, 12 (1948), 79, 7.

12 Franks J. D., “Europe Today,” in Weeks N. F., ed., Europe, Whither Bound? A Symposium Telling of Southern Baptist Missionary Work in Italy, Spain, and the Balkan States – Hungary and Yugoslavia (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1951), 136, 3.

13 Interview by the author with Samuel Faircloth, Carol Stream, IL, USA, 15 June 2011.

14 Evangelical qualifications of Europe can be found in Evans Robert P., Let Europe Hear: The Spiritual Plight of Europe (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), 17, 33; James DeForest Murch, Amsterdam, 1948: An Evangelical View of the World Council of Churches (n.p.: n.d.), 42, reprinted from United Evangelical Action, 1 Feb–15 May 1949.

15 May Elaine Tyler, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War (New York: Basic Books, 2008). A gendered perspective on the Russian nation was phrased by George Kennan, who “cast himself as the male lover and Russia or the Russian people as the feminine beloved.” See Costigliola Frank, “‘Unceasing Pressure for Penetration’: Gender, Pathology, and Emotion in George Kennan's Formation of the Cold War,” Journal of American History, 83, 4 (March 1997), 1309–39. Cuordileone K. A., “‘Politics in an Age of Anxiety’: Cold War Political Culture and the Crisis in American Masculinity,” Journal of American History, 87, 2 (2000), 515–45; Dean Robert D., Imperial Brotherhood: Gender and the Making of Cold War Foreign Policy (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001), 6670 .

16 Battleground Europe (Great Commission Films, 1955).

17 In the late 1970s Graham changed to accept women's expanding roles, even ordination. Marshall Ellen Ott, “A Matter of Pride: A Feminist Response,” in Long Michael G., ed., The Legacy of Billy Graham: Critical Reflections on America's Greatest Evangelist (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 83 .

18 Gilbert James, Men in the Middle: Searching for Masculinity in the 1950s (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005), 106–34.

19 Hoyle Lydia Huffman, “Queens in the Kingdom: Southern Baptist Mission Education for Girls, 1953–1970,” in Robert Dana L., ed., Gospel Bearers, Gender Barriers: Missionary Women in the Twentieth Century (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002), 101–12.

20 Laville Helen, Cold War Women: The International Activities of American Women's Organizations (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), 197204 , showed how American women embraced the foreign-policy goals of their government even if they confessed that their gender should transcend national identity. In the public diplomacy campaigns the United States highlighted “their” women benefiting from consumerism against the Soviet Union's emphasis on the productivity of women which gave them equal pay and a strong presence in the workforce.

21 Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL, archives (hereafter MBI), Report of the Educational Branch for the Year Closed at 31 Dec. 1952, Annual Reports Educational Department 1948 and 1953, 2–4, 9.

22 MBI Archives, Foreign Missionary Report, 1953. Annual Report Educational Department 1953, 7. Between 1948 and 1990 women had a 53% majority.

23 “What Is the Missionary Union?” MBI Archives, Departmental Missions, Box 1, Missionary Union [1952] history file.

24 Ibid., June 1952 Program.

25 Billy Graham Center Archives, Wheaton, Illinois USA (hereafter BGCA), Collection 171, Oral History Bobby, Mary Lee (1928–) and Albert Edward (1925–1998) Papers; 1953–1978. The interviews with them were conducted by Galen Wilson in their private home in Bowie, Maryland, on 21 May 1982.

26 Mary Lee Bobby Oral History, BGCA.

27 By August 1940, 53 out of 1,597 active missionaries trained at Moody worked in Europe (mostly in Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, and Poland). MBI Foreign Mission Reports, 1939 and 1940. Forty of them stayed there till the end of the war. In 1951 ten new missionaries left Moody for a European country. MBI Archives, Foreign Missionary Report 1979.

28 Jon P. DePriest, “Send the Light: TEAM and the Evangelical Mission, 1890–1975,” PhD dissertation, Claremont Graduate University, 2001, 18–45, 110, 214. Albert Bobby Oral History, BGCA.

29 Al Bobby to Augie, 3 Oct. 1960, BGCA, Collection 171, File 6, Bobby correspondence 1953–1961.

30 In 1921 French evangelicals Ruben and Jeanne Saillens had established the Institut biblique de Nogent-Sur-Marne. Portugal Team field committee minutes 1, 2, 3 Oct. 1951, TEAM archives, Carol Stream, IL. The team voted for supporting the Leiria Bible School and accepted the Conservative Baptist doctrinal statement in April 1952. Berry Mary Anne, Unless the Lord Builds the House: A Brief History of the Faculté Libre de Théologie Évangélique Vaux-sur-Seine, France (Vaux-sur-Seine: FLTE, 2011), 6 .

31 DePriest, 81–111.

32 Robert, American Women in Mission, 219, 239. Williams Daniel K., “Sex and the Evangelicals,” in Schäfer Axel, ed., American Evangelicalism and the 1960s (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2013), 106–11.

33 The Evangelical Alliance Mission archives, Carol Stream, IL (hereafter TEAM), Team minutes, 24 Oct. 1952; Report 1950 Marjorie Ruth Hawes; Portugal Team field committee minutes 30 June 1953; Minutes Annual Field Conference TEAM Portugal, 1 Oct. 1951, TEAM archives.

34 Newsletter, 13 Nov. 1953, BGCA, Collection 171, File 6, Bobby correspondence 1953–1961.

35 “More Blessed to Give,” Missionary Broadcaster, Dec. 1956. Mortenson Vernon, God Made It Grow: Historical Sketches of TEAM's Church Planting Work (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1994), 723–65.

36 “The Life of a Teenager between the Ages of 12 and 16 in Portugal” [between 1956 and 1958], BGCA, Collection 171, File 4, Bobby Notes. Brusco Elizabeth, The Reformation of Machismo: Evangelical Conversion and Gender in Colombia (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995).

37 Mary Lee Bobby, notes, 12 Jan. 1955 and March 1956, BGCA, Collection 171, File 4.

38 After their return Albert joined the staff of Voice of America, Mary Lee went into education and assisted Portuguese-speaking congregations in the Washington, DC area. The transnational contacts continued in a different form.

39 Mary Lee Bobby interview, BGCA.

40 Glenn F. Arnold, “A Comparative Study of the Present Doctrinal Positions and Christian Conduct Codes of Selected Alumni of Moody Bible Institute: 1945–1971,” PhD dissertation, New York University, 1977, 95; Policy Book Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society (1962–64), 11, 12A, 34, 74A.

41 Robert Dana L., American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1996), 216 . For tightening of control see Koop Allen V., “American Evangelical Missionaries in France, 1945–1975,” in Carpenter Joel A. and Shenk Wilbert R., eds., Earthen Vessels: American Evangelicals and Foreign Missions, 1880–1980 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990), 180202 .

42 Robert Dana L., “The ‘Christian Home’ as a Cornerstone of Anglo-American Missionary Thought and Practice,” in Robert, ed., Converting Colonialism: Visions and Realities in Mission History, 1706–1914 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008), 158–65. See, for instance, the memoirs of two American missionary families in France: Ken and Lois Beach, In the Shadow of the Almighty: The Autobiography of Ken and Lois Beach (n.p., privately printed, Dec. 2010). Ivan (Pete) and Peterson Donelda, “Tears and Triumphs”: Fifty Years of Overseas Ministry (n.p.: Xulonpress, 2009).

43 Sarah Page, “A Profile of Single Women Missionaries in France,” MA thesis, Wheaton College, 1979, 3.

44 Interview with Sarah Page by the author, 2 April 2013.

45 Page, 3.

46 Page. Interviews with Sarah Page by the author, 30 March and 2 April 2013. Simultaneously women in the Division for World Mission and Ecumenism of the Lutheran Church in America discussed the neglect of women in mission in their conferences. See Bowers Joyce M., “Roles of Married Women Missionaries: A Case Study,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 8 (Jan. 1984), 46 . A survey among 53 couples was held and a heated debate followed between proponents of quick and radical change and those who were satisfied with the situation. The majority of women complained about the lack of job descriptions. Also in this mainline organization (female) staff hesitated about claiming their rights. The result was the appointment of advisers for couples and opportunity for dual pay, but not (yet) opening leadership positions.

47 Page, 32. Interview by the author with Sarah Page, 25 Feb. and 2 April 2013.

48 Page, 36.

49 Email, Sarah Page to author, 20 June 2015.

50 Finzel Hans, ed., Partners Together: 50 Years of Global Impact – The CBFMS Story (Wheaton, IL: Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society, 1993).

51 Page interview, 2 Apr. 2013.

52 Email, Sarah Page to author, 30 March 2013.

53 Ibid.

54 Greater Europe Report, March–April 1974, 5.

55 Interview with Sarah Page, 2 April 2013. Retreats were also an American innovation. Williams, “Sex and the Evangelicals,” 108–9.

56 The speaker was the female Lutheran evangelist from India Subbamma B. V., “Evangelization among Women,” in Douglas J. D., ed., Let the Earth Hear His Voice (Minneapolis: World Wide Publications, 1975), 765–73; and Gien Karssen, “Evangelism among Women Report,” in ibid., 774–75.

57 Hansell Joy, “An International Forum for Evangelical Women,” in Scott Waldron, ed., Serving Our Generation: Evangelical Strategies for the Eighties (Colorado Springs: World Evangelical Fellowship, 1980), 149–60. Waldron Scott, the executive secretary of the WEF, added the Women's Commission to the agenda of the WEF in 1978: Scott, “Double Helix: A Missionary's Odyssey”  (n.p., n.d.), 710, 725, Web. 16 Feb. 2012. This might seem insignificant, but it was an explicit recognition of the importance of the issue, similar to President Jimmy Carter's decision to appoint an assistant to the President on women's affairs. In 1978 the Korean missionary Chun Chae Ok became the first female executive secretary of the World Evangelical Fellowship's Missions Commission. Scott, “Double Helix,” 719. The inclusion of majority world male leaders came decades earlier than the inclusion of women in the top leadership: Fuller W. H., People of the Mandate: The Story of the World Evangelical Fellowship (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1996), 133–44.

58 Jackson Elizabeth C., “Women's Role in Mission: Issues and Expectations,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, 16 (Oct. 1980), 197205 . Reapsome James W., “Where Are Female Leaders in Mission?”, Evangelical Mission Quarterly, 16 (Oct. 1980), 234–35.

59 Catherine B. Allen, “Shifting Sands for Southern Baptist Women in Missions,” in Robert, Gospel Bearers, Gender Barriers, 113–26. See Stackhouse John G. Jr., “Women in Public Ministry: Five Models in Twentieth-Century North American Evangelicalism,” in Stackhouse, Evangelical Landscapes: Facing Critical Issues of the Day (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 121–39. This essay was originally published in 1988.

60 Bendroth Margaret Lamberts, “Fundamentalism and the Family: Gender, Culture, and the American Pro-family Movement,” Journal of Women's History, 10, 4 (1999), 3554 . Stephens Hilde Løvdal, “Money Matters and Family Matters: James Dobson and Focus on the Family on the Traditional Family and Capitalist America,” in Stievermann Jan, Goff Philip, and Junker Detlef, eds., Religion and the Marketplace in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 102–21.

61 Flippen J. Brooks, Jimmy Carter, the Politics of Family, and the Rise of the Religious Right (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011), 3839, 128–32, 152–53, 194, 272.

62 Fuller, 142.

63 Dzubinski Leanne, “Women in Mission: Women Workers in the Harvest Force,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, 46, 2 (2010) 150–56.  “If women are not thriving, the team cannot reach its potential”: Lindgren L., “Helping Women Thrive: A Key Component of a Healthy Team Approach,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, 48, 1 (2012), 109–13, 113.

64 Ruble Sarah E., The Gospel of Freedom and Power: Protestant Missionaries in American Culture after World War II (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 11 .

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