Sarah A. Hallock Lindsey was a licensed Seventh-day Adventist minister who engaged in evangelistic and pastoral ministry with her husband, John Lindsey, in northern Pennsylvania and southern New York state during the late 1860s and in the 1870s.
Promptings to Preach
Sarah A. Hallock was born in 1832, the daughter of a northern Pennsylvania farmer, Noah Hallock, and his wife Hannah.1 It is not clear how Sarah became an Adventist but in 1857, she wrote about her Advent hope to the editor of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald.2 Late in 1859 she read in the same periodical of a call for women to preach the Advent message. Indeed, the writer, B.F. Robbins, suggested female believers were “lacking in that heart consecration to God” if they were reticent to preach.3 Sarah responded by asking the editor to reconcile the article with the scriptural directives for women to keep silent in the churches and not be allowed to teach (I Cor. 14:34, 35; I Tim. 2:11).4 Robbins offered a reply, suggesting that Paul was not in favor of women teaching “dictatorially.” He pointed out that the apostle also affirmed both women and men prophesying in public meetings of the church (I Cor. 11).5 In the wake of this discussion Sarah Hallock became one among a handful of women who later rose to Robbins’ challenge.
Sarah married John Lindsey (1821-1881) about 1862. Lindsey was a Canadian who joined the Sabbath-observing Advent movement through the ministry of Joseph Bates in 1850. For much of the 1850s Lindsey engaged in itinerant lay evangelism in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin with his wife, Esther. After Esther died of tuberculosis in November 1860, John and his two children moved to north central Pennsylvania, where he helped nurture the church in Ulysses in which Sarah Hallock was a member.
After Sarah and John married, he practiced his craft as a jeweller and watchmaker6 to support his family while continuing to provide leadership in the church at Ulysses. A daughter, Kate, destined to become a school teacher, was added to the family about 1863.
In all likelihood John and Sarah first engaged in joint ministry at their home church of Ulysses. In the late 1860s they turned increasingly to itinerant evangelistic tours through the region of northern Pennsylvania and southern New York. The earliest mention of Sarah conducting a service on tour was in the summer of 1868 at Roulette, Pennsylvania.7 In January 1869 both of them assisted with preaching at meetings in Deer Creek near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.8 In the summer of 1869 they conducted an evangelistic effort at Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania, Sarah preaching 23 times on prophetic themes such as latter-day signs and the Second Advent. Then they moved on to New York state to preach a similar series in West Union.9 They employed the winter of 1869-1870 to visit and conduct services with scattered members in Belfast, Crawford Creek and South Addison in New York and Liberty in Pennsylvania.10 During their travels Sarah sometimes conducted funeral services.11
In general, Sarah A. H. Lindsey, was more prominently featured as a preacher than her husband. When they attended the annual New York and Pennsylvania Conference sessions, it was Sarah who told of their evangelistic endeavors of the past year.12 At the conference session of 1869, she became, apparently, the first woman in Seventh-day Adventist history issued a minister’s license.13 The Review and Herald report of the 1871 session also makes explicit that Sister S. A. H. Lindsey was among those granted a license,14 and such was likely the case annually through the mid-1870s but the reporting practices seem to have been irregular in that era. In 1878 Sarah and John were both granted colporteur rather than preaching licenses.15 The following year, the Pennsylvania Conference issued Sarah a preaching license during its first session as a conference separate and distinct from New York.16
The Review and Herald published a few devotional articles by S. A. H. Lindsey during the early 1870s. These articles convey something of her gifts as a gospel communicator. A sample accompanies this article in Related Content.
The Lindseys continued their Pennsylvania-New York traveling ministry until John experienced symptoms of the liver cancer that took his life on October 11, 1881, at Wellsville, New York.17 Despite her exceptional ability as a preacher, Sarah was limited in what she could do after John’s passing. It was unusual but acceptable for a husband and wife team to preach but unwise and unacceptable for a female evangelist to tour alone. Her name does not appear among the ministerial licentiates listed in either the New York or Pennsylvania Conferences after 1880, though the Pennsylvania Conference granted her a colporteur’s license in 1882.18
For most of the time Sarah lived with her parents in Wellsville in retirement from public ministry. When her father passed away intestate in 1894 she successfully contested for his estate in the probate court.19 The 1900 United States Census indicates that her two grand-daughters were with her at the time in her inherited home at Wellsville.20
Sarah A. H. Lindsey, the first Seventh-day Adventist woman whose gift for preaching was recognized with a conference-issued minister’s license, passed away on December 28, 1914.21 She rests in an unmarked grave in the Hallock family cemetery at Newfield near Ulysses, Pennsylvania.22
Andrews, J. N. “Ninth Annual Report of the N.Y. and Pa. Conference.” ARH, August 23, 1870.
Andrews, J. N. “Tenth Annual Report of the N.Y. and Pa. Conference.” ARH, September 12, 1871.
Campbell, Michael W. "Photograph Discovered of Pioneer Adventist Woman." Adventist Review, June 27, 2022. Accessed November 3, 2022. https://adventistreview.org/commentary/photograph-discovered-of-pioneer-adventist-woman-minister/.
Fuller, N. “Report for Review.” ARH, March 2, 1869.
Fuller, N. “Report of Meetings.” ARH, August 4, 1868.
Hallock, Sarah A. “A Query.” ARH, January 12, 1860.
Hallock, Sarah A. “Letters.” ARH, December 31, 1857.
Hutchins, A. S. “Letters.” ARH, July 7, 1873.
Kinne, P. Z. “Annual Meeting of the N.Y. and Pa. Tract and Missionary Society.” ARH, September 9, 1873.
Kinne, P. Z. “Eleventh Annual Report of the N.Y. and Pa. State Conference.” ARH, September 10, 1872.
Lindsey, John. “Letters.” ARH, March 18, 1858.
Lindsey, John. “Letters.” ARH, March 18, 1862.
Lindsey, John. “Meetings in Steuben Co., N.Y.” ARH, June 15, 1869.
Lindsey, John and S. A. H. Lindsey. “Report of Meetings.” ARH, February 22, 1870; June 20, 1870; December 6, 1870.
Lindsey, John and S. A. H. Lindsey. “Appointments.” ARH, September 30, 1875 and June 1, 1876.
Lindsey, John and S. A. H. Lindsey, “Pennsylvania.” ARH, May 9, 1871.
“Noah Howe Hallock.” New York, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999. Ancestry.com, 2021. Accessed July 5, 2021, https://www.ancestry.com.au/imageviewer/collections/8800/images/005114798_00333?pld=8523378.
Robbins, B.F. “Reply to Query in Review No. 8.” ARH, February 2, 1860.
Robbins, B.F. “To the Female Disciples in the Third Angel’s Message.” ARH, December 8, 1859.
“Sarah Lindsey.” New York, U.S., Death Index, 1852-1956. Ancestry.com, 2021. Accessed July 5, 2021, https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/61535.
Saunders, E. B. “Report of the N.Y. and Pa. Conference.” ARH, October 12, 1869.
Stebbins, Willard W. “Horace Hopkins.” ARH, September 28, 1869.
Strayer, Brian. “Sarah A. Hallock Lindsey.” Anderson Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2020. Accessed July 4, 2021. https://www.andersonsdachurch.com/sermon/sarah-a-hallock-lindsey-our-first-sda-licenced-female-preacher-and-some-of-her-female-contemporary-preachers/.
United States Census, 1860, 1880, and 1900. Accessed July 1, 2021 through FamilySearch, www.familysearch.org.
Whitney, B. L. “John Lindsey.” ARH, December 20, 1881.
Whitney, B. L. “New York and Pennsylvania Conference.” ARH, December 5, 1878.
Whitney, B. L. “Pennsylvania Conference.” ARH, October 10, 1882.
United States Census, 1860, FamilySearch, database with images, Sarah A. Hallock in entry for Noar[sic] H. Hallock, accessed July 1, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MXT8-JST.↩
Sarah A. Hallock, “Letters,” ARH, December 31, 1857, 63.↩
B.F. Robbins, “To the Female Disciples in the Third Angel’s Message,” ARH, December 8, 1859, 21-22.↩
Sarah A. Hallock, “A Query,” ARH, January 12, 1860, 64.↩
B.F. Robbins, “Reply to Query in Review No. 8,” ARH, February 2, 1860, 86-87.↩
United States Census, 1880, database with images, FamilySearch, John Lindsey, Wellsville, Allegany, New York, United States; accessed July 1, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZZM-QLH.↩
N. Fuller, “Report of Meetings,” ARH, August 4, 1868, 109.↩
N. Fuller, “Report for Review,” ARH, March 2, 1869, 75.↩
John Lindsey, “Meetings in Steuben Co., N.Y.” ARH, June 15, 1869, 200.↩
John Lindsey and S. A.H. Lindsey, “Report of Meetings,” ARH, February 22, 1870, 78.↩
See, for example, Willard W. Stebbins, “Horace Hopkins,” ARH, September 28, 1869, 111.↩
J.N. Andrews, “Ninth Annual Report of the N.Y. and Pa. Conference,” ARH, August 23, 1870, 78; J.N. Andrews, “Tenth Annual Report of the N.Y. and Pa. Conference,” ARH, September 12, 1871, 102; P.Z. Kinne, “Eleventh Annual Report of the N.Y. and Pa. State Conference,” ARH, September 10, 1872, 102-103.↩
E.B. Saunders, “Report of the N.Y. and Pa. Conference.” ARH, October 12, 1869, 126. In early Seventh-day Adventist denominational practice, the ministerial license signified the conference’s recognition of the licentiate’s calling to ministry as a full-time vocation and conferred upon the licentiate both the authority and obligation to preach, evangelize, and teach. Licensed ministers were not ordained. When a conference authorized ordination, it issued the minister credentials, typically renewed or re-issued at conference sessions held annually. See D.J.B. Trim, “Ordination in Seventh-day Adventist History,” 18-19, January 2014 Papers, Theology of Ordination Study Commission, Office of Archives, Research and Statistics, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, accessed October 21, 2021, https://www.adventistarchives.org/ordination-in-sda-history.pdf.↩
Andrews, “Tenth Annual Report of the N.Y. and Pa. Conference.”↩
B.L. Whitney, “New York and Pennsylvania Conference,” ARH, December 5, 1878, 183.↩
B.L. Whitney, “Pennsylvania State Conference,” ARH, October 16, 1879, 135.↩
B.L. Whitney, “John Lindsey,” ARH, December 20, 1881, 397.↩
B.L. Whitney, “Pennsylvania Conference,” ARH, October 10, 1882, 637-638.↩
“Noah Howe Hallock,” New York, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999, accessed July 5, 2021, https://www.ancestry.com.au/imageviewer/collections/8800/images/005114798_00333?pld+8523378↩
United States Census, 1900, FamilySearch, Sarah Lindsy[sic], Wellsville Township Wellsville village (north of Main St.), Allegany, New York, United States; accessed July 2, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/1:1:/MS64-83X.↩
Brian Strayer, “Sarah A. Hallock Lindsey,” Anderson Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2020, accessed July 4, 2021, https://www.andersonsdachurch.com/sermon/sarah-a-hallock-lindsey-our-first-sda-licensed-female-preacher-and-some-of-her-female-contempory-preachers/.↩