Iva Durham Vennard
Methodist holiness deaconess, evangelist, and educator
Iva was converted at the age of twelve and joined a Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) shortly thereafter. Six years later, she claimed sanctification after attending first a holiness meeting in Decatur, Illinois, and then a revival preached by Joseph H. Smith. Following graduation from Illinois State Normal University in 1890, she taught school before entering Wellesley College in 1892. In 1895, she enrolled at the Deaconess Home in Buffalo, New York, and was assigned to conference evangelism. Three years later, she was appointed deaconess-at-large for the Woman’s Home Missionary Society of the MEC and traveled across the country promoting deaconess work and preaching revivals. In 1901, she founded Epworth Evangelistic Institute, a deaconess training school in St. Louis, and served as principal until 1910, when she resigned. She then founded Chicago Evangelistic Institute, a coeducational, holiness training school, and was its principal until her death in 1945. This school relocated to Iowa and continues under its present name, Vennard College. She also served on the Executive Board of the Association of Women Preachers and was a board member and treasurer of the National Holiness Missionary Society (later World Gospel Mission), an organization that she helped to create. Iva received a local preacher’s license from the MEC in 1920 and an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Taylor University in 1923.