Spirit-filled women : Louisiana's United Pentecostal Church International and modern American culture
Mitchell, Glenda Bridges
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From only a handful of believers in 1901, the Pentecostal movement has become an international religious force. With over 525 million believers worldwide, Pentecostals are the largest family of Protestants in the world. This dissertation examines one of Louisiana’s largest Pentecostal denominations, the United Pentecostal Church International. "Spirit-Filled Women: Louisiana’s United Pentecostal Church International and Modern American Culture" explores the relationship between gender role ideology and social behavior in the Oneness Pentecostal movement and the United Pentecostal Church International. Its first section traces the history of the church’s development to 1945, both on the state and national levels. Within the early stages of Pentecostalism’s development, women held important leadership roles in churches and revivals. In the wake of World War II, however, women's leadership opportunities were limited and gradually they were excluded from the ministry on the basis of a biblical hierarchy of men over women. While United Pentecostal women embraced the rhetoric of the church’s hierarchy, they used their spiritual authority to voice their faith and fight for an improved status within the confines of the traditional church and family. The second section of this dissertation details the ways women used their spiritual gifts, such as speaking in tongues and divine healing, to voice their faith. It also examines the ways women have worked to redefine many of the church’s teachings on holiness and marriage to meet the demands of a changing society. Finally, this study explores contemporary Pentecostal women’s struggles to reassert their right to speak within the church by establishing powerful women's organizations and conferences.