Ordination of Ruby Knapp Bixby by the Free Will Baptists
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Although Baptist women had long preached in America -- including Margaret Meuse Clay, who was tried for preaching in 1770 -- it was not until 1846 that the Freewill Baptists licensed the first female, Baptist preacher. Ruby Knapp married Newell Willard Bixby in 1842 and they subsequently served as co-ministers of 14 mission churches in the then frontier state of Iowa. By the time Knapp, known as "Sister Bixby," died in 1877, the Freewill Baptists had admitted women as denominational delegates and, in 1886, formally initiated a policy of female ordination.
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Ruby Knapp Bixby portrait- Hathi Trust
Newell Bixby portrait- Hathi Trust
Iowa City Baptist Church- Hathi Trust
Leonard, Bill, 2005. Baptists in America. New York: Columbia University Press.
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Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History