Distinguished Faculty Lecture Focuses on Women in Early Adventist History

Beverly Beem, associate professor of English at Walla Walla College, presented the 2005 Distinguished Faculty Lecture in November. The presentation, entitled “My Soul Is on the Wing for Glory: Voices of Early Adventist Women,” focused on the role women played in Seventh-day Adventist heritage and development as recorded in the Review and Herald between the years of 1850 and 1881.

Beem and co-scholar Ginger Hanks Harwood, associate professor of religious and theological studies at La Sierra University, have been studying early Adventist women for nearly a decade. Beem and Hanks Harwood scoured the Review page by page, attempting to put the women’s letters into perspective. Hanks Harwood specializes in theology and church history, while Beem adds an emphasis in literary analysis. “We need each other’s skills,” adds Beem. “The heart and soul of scholarship is bringing in as many approaches and viewpoints as possible.”

The role of women in the early church was counter-cultural at the time, yet distinctive to the Advent movement. Women were called and expected to help spread the Three Angels’ Message. “The Review gave a voice to those who had none. It provided them with a forum and allowed men and women to speak equally,” says Beem.

Questioned after the lecture about her views of women’s roles in the church today, Beem commented that it wasn’t her place to say. “As scholars, our job is to collect the information and present it to others. It’s up to them whether they want to use it.”

Beem has been at WWC since 1976, serving as professor of English, college writing coordinator, and chair of the English department.

February 01, 2006 / Walla Walla University