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Hidden Stories of RCA Women – the 2023-2024 Albert A Smith Presentation

February 15 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

2023-2024 Albert A Smith Presentation Looks for Hidden Women’s Stories

All too often, when we look for people’s stories in the Reformed Church in America (RCA), we end up telling stories of men. This is because the obvious places to look for RCA history focus on ministers and sometimes elders and, for almost 350 of our nearly 400 years in America, those offices were exclusively held by men. The few women’s stories that have risen to our notice—stories of people like Dina Van Berg, Sojourner Truth, Ida Scudder, and Frances Beardslee—are overused, because their source material is easily found.

Mary Risseeuw, the 2023-2024 Albert A Smith fellow at NBTS, wants us to look beyond all that:

“There are, obviously, a great many women’s stories yet to be uncovered and each one has some significance to our history; our individual church communities as well as the broader story of the RCA. As time goes by it will become more difficult to uncover the stories if there is little to no documentation being done. I cannot tell every woman’s story, but I can help facilitate the stories that need to be expanded and help develop an initiative to locate and preserve the source material.”

Risseeuw, a genealogist and conference organizer, seeks to do just this in her fellowship work, and will share her progress as well as what else remains to be done in the 2023-2024 Albert A Smith lecture. Titled “Hidden Stories of RCA Women,” it was presented on Thursday, February 15, 2024, from 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm Eastern Time. She hopes to have identified and discussed materials in the RCA Archives that could facilitate continued research into women’s stories in the RCA, and perhaps identify materials that could be digitized. She writes, “I think far too many people aren’t aware of how many stories there are to pursue – much less where to begin the pursuit.”

After Risseeuw’s presentation, there was a response by Anna M. Jackson. Anna is co-pastor, with her husband, Dwayne, of Second Reformed Church in Hackensack, New Jersey. She was the 2020-2021 Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in RCA Women’s Studies at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, where she studied the phenomenon of matriarchs in Black RCA congregations and the larger church in the 1970s and 80s. She was also one of the Gnade lecturers in 2023. Prior to going to Hackensack, Jackson was pastor of Queens Reformed Church in Queens Village, New York, and has served as a member of various denominational committees and commissions as well as the General Synod Council.

Following Jackson’s response, we opened the floor to questions and comments by all the participants.


February 15
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category:


James Hart Brumm, Director, The Reformed Church Center