Woosley, Louisa 
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Time Period
3/24/1862  - 6/30/1952
Growing up in a religious household, Louisa Woosley always secretly desired to preach, but felt disqualified from the vocation because of her sex. This led to an internal struggle, which caused her depression.

After an opportunity to preach arose in 1887 at her Kentucky church (Macedonia Cumberland Presbyterian Church), the positive experience confirmed her calling. By 1889, she was an ordained by the Nolin Presbytery as a minister.

Her ordination was controversial and was constantly challenged by Kentucky Synod. She responded by publishing Shall Women Preach in 1891, where she defended the right of women to preach according to the Scriptures. Eventually, the Nolin Presbytery succumbed to the Kentucky Synod’s hostility by removing her from the presbytery’s roll. During this time, she stayed loyal to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Woosley later joined the Leitchfield Presbytery in 1911 as an ordained minister.

Her 6,343 sermons, 7,664 witnessed professions of faith, and 258 baptisms marked a 50-year ministry that fought for gender equality.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Women and Religion
Presbyterian Religious Events and People in American History
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Women and Religion in American History
Presbyterian Religious Events and People in American History
Religious Groups
Presbyterian-Reformed Family: Other ARDA Links


Louis Woosley portrait- Internet Archive- from Shall Women Preach by Louisa M. Woosley
Book/Journal Source(s)
Hudson, Mary Lin, 1990. 'Shall Woman Preach?' Louisa Woosley and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. American Presbyterians 68 (4): 221-230.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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