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Publisher Description

Students of American religious history familiar with the life and work of Henrietta Cornelia Mears (1890-1963) readily associate her with the stunning contributions she made to conservative Protestantism while serving as the dedicated teacher of the Fidelis Sunday school class of young women at the Reverend William Bell Riley's First Baptist Church, Minneapolis and as the director of Christian education at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, California. Even while teaching full time in the Minneapolis school system, Mears' leadership of the Fidelis Sunday school class led to its explosive growth from five to nearly 450 between 1917 and 1927. During her nearly thirty-five years in Hollywood from 1928 to her death in 1963, the indefatigable Mears built reportedly the largest Presbyterian Sunday school in the country; founded two successful religious publishing concerns; launched a major interdenominational conference center in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles that today services more than 55,000 patrons annually; helped establish a formal ministry to Hollywood celebrities; initiated an international relief program; and became a renowned leader of the postwar evangelical movement. Drawn together in defense of theological orthodoxy through the association of their respective senior pastors, the two churches nurtured a relationship that predated the Scopes Trial of 1925 and continued long after Mears moved to Southern California. But although the congregations and their leaders cultivated a common affinity for the theological bases of fundamentalism, (1) the congregations and their leaders represented different perspectives on the social and cultural implications of doctrinal purity. Her experiential "education" in these two complementary, but divergent ecclesiastical contexts as well as her own formative personal educational experiences helped shape the course charted by Henrietta Mears from the 1910s through the 1930s. Her synergistic solution to the Christ-and-culture dilemmas facing orthodox believers during that era vividly illustrates the widening chasm between old-line fundamentalists and those who would emerge over the next decade as the neo-evangelicals.

June 22
Baptist History and Heritage Society
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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