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Title: Ministering in affliction : the 'brown deaconesses' of the Church of Scotland, 1888-c.1948
Author: McEwan, Muriel Lynn
ISNI:       0000 0001 3624 0207
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis is concerned with the Order of Deaconesses within the Church of Scotland, which has been largely ignored or misrepresented in social, religious and culhrral history. It considers the role and status of the 'brown deaconess' (socalled because of the colour of her unifonn) and explores what made her different from other women workers in the Kirk. The thesisis organised in five thematic sections. The first section considers the rationale for studying deaconesses and the value and limitations of using a biographical approach. Section II places the Church of Scotland deaconess within the context of the wider deaconess movement and within the social, religious and culhrral changes that occurred in Scotland during the nineteenth century. The role of A. H. Charteris in the 'revival' ofdeaconesses within Scottish Presbyterianism is also considered. Section III assesses the selection and training ofdeaconesses and examines the religious symbolism, protocols and display associated with the setting apart ofdeaconesses. It also considers the semantics of language associated with this ceremony which reinforced notions of subordination. Section IV focuses upon the variety of service undertaken by deaconesses. It also explores the gender relationships between deaconesses and male office-bearers and how this affected their daily work. The final section considers how deaconesses perceived themselves by exploring their possible motivation for joining the diaconate, their aspirations and outlook. The sense of identity ofthe deaconess is assessed in the symbols, protocols and material culture associated with the order. The problems and difficulties facing deaconesses are also considered. This research suggests that the unrealistically high expectations placed upon deaconesses, that frequently resulted in serious breakdowns in health, combined with the vague, subordinate and anomalous position of the deaconess within the Kirk, contributed to the decline of the brown deaconess movement in the 1930s and 1940s.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Open University, 2008 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available