Girl  Evangelists
“Baby” Carmel Barnwell

“Baby Carmel” was the youngest of the girl evangelists. She started preaching when she was three, and at age six was ordained. Her parents were ministers, and appear to have been itinerant evangelists themselves under the Barnwell Evangelistic Party name. Carmen first attended a school in the seventh grade. One must assume that she was tutored on the road.

Carmen is said to have spoken in most of the major cities in a ten-state area, where Texas seems to have been the home base. The team frequently used a 600-seat tent, and Carmel was the featured preacher. Her mother explained to one reporter that Carmel “has never written out a sermon or used any notes for her talks. She never knows until she is on the platform what her sermon will be.” The idea that God was inspiring these little preachers is often suggested by comments like this from team members of other girl evangelists too.

The Barnwells were Pentecostals, and they make faith healing a prominent part of their crusades. In one ad (see left), it is announced that in Carmel’s meetings, “the deaf and dumb are healed, crooked limbs made straight and blind eyes are opened.”

The last I have been able to trace for Carmel’s preaching activities is at age 22, in 1937. A newspaper ad announces a crusade at the St. Petersburg, Florida, Coliseum.