Friday, March 11, 2016
Lydia Sexton (1799 - 1894) of the United Brethren Church was the first woman in any predecessor of the UMC to be licensed to preach when her application was approved by the Illinois Annual Conference in 1851.
She was born in New Jersey where her father was a Baptist minister but spent most of her adult life in the Midwest where she was widowed twice before marrying Joseph Sexton in 1829. Soon afterward she joined the UBC, eventually becoming a traveling evangelist throughout the region. At age 70 she also became the first female chaplain of the Kansas State Prison, developing a class system with nearly 100 members.
In her autobiography published in 1882 she wrote "I never preached at a place without having the satisfaction to learn that they desired me to return. I mention this only as a matter of encouragement to some of my sisters who feel that they have a call to the ministry. Do your whole duty, and look to God for help."
She is also the great-great-great aunt of current North Texas Conference East District Superintendent Vic Casad. Read Dr. Casad's reflections on his aunt here http://www.northtexasumc.org/…/message-from-vic-casad-febru…