L'influence des femmes: women, Evangelical Protestantism, and mission in nineteenth century France
Sigg, Michele Miller
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This dissertation argues that female piety and mission practices shaped the Evangelical Protestantism and the missionary movement that emerged from the Réveil [Revival] in nineteenth century France. It shows that women through their writings, their philanthropic initiatives, and their focus on education and social renewal on behalf of children laid the foundation for French Protestant mission and outreach. This study fills a gap in Anglophone scholarship on the role of women in French Protestant mission history and the history of the nineteenth century Evangelical Revival in France. After the Reformation, Protestant women preserved the Huguenot cultural identity of Protestants both at home and abroad. This continuity was manifested in the nineteenth century when the countries of the Huguenot Refuge sent missionaries of the Evangelical Revival back into France. The ethos of Jan Hus’ Dcerka [The Daughter] present in the work of French Protestant women in philanthropy, education, and social renewal demonstrates the continuity in piety and outreach from the Reformation to the nineteenth century. After the founding of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society in 1822, the Paris Mission women’s committee, led by Albertine de Broglie and Émilie Mallet, played a crucial role in promoting missions by mediating regional and class differences between Protestants. Late eighteenth century female initiatives on behalf of vulnerable women and children laid the foundation for the work of missions because, through them, women developed networks that served the goals of philanthropy, fundraising, and infant education. Infant school education, pioneered in the Lesotho Mission by Elizabeth Lyndall Rolland, was essential to women’s mission practice. The infant school pedagogy of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and Jean-Frédéric Oberlin, with its religious teaching, the centrality of the female role, and the emphasis on kindness was the key component in the work of the Lesotho Mission. In the 1830s, the arrival of missionary wives launched the work of the Lesotho Mission and energized French Protestant faith. In the 1840s, women once again sparked spiritual renewal with the creation of deaconess communities in Paris and Strasburg that served as models of Christian unity and self-sacrificial service. Overall, women’s piety and outreach were sources of revitalization in the Reformed Church and influenced early Evangelical Protestantism in nineteenth century France. Women’s mission practices that focused on works of mercy, education, and the nurturing of Christian families served as catalysts for renewal.