Benjamin Franklin (1812-1878) was the leader of northern conservatives in the mid-19th century within the Stone-Campbell Movement. His American Christian Review was the most widely read periodical of the movement after the Civil War. He led the fight, for example, against the introduction of instrumental music into worship assemblies and grounded the argument for an exclusive ”five public acts of worship” in the idea of positive law. He represented the “right wing” of the Stone-Campbell Movement in the postbellum North.
Recognizing this context lends weight to his moderate position concerning the presence of the female voice in the public assemblies of the gathered church. He took this moderating position because he found, to his satisfaction, explicit ground for it in Scripture. When asked his opinion on “sisters taking part in public worship,” he responded (ACR 3.5  18):
It depends on upon what part in the public worship is meant. They are not allowed to teach, or to usurp authority over the man, but that they may not sing, pray, commune and exhort, we think no man can prove. The words “suffer not a woman to speak,” we think, is of the same import as “suffer not a woman to teach,” in another place. It is clear that women prayed in the primitive church, or Paul’s speaking of their “praying with the head uncovered” would have been without meaning. They could not have prayed without speaking, but they could without teaching.
Franklin was convinced that there were “two extremes–the one not permitting women to open their lips in any worshipping assembly, and the other making them public preachers and teachers” (ACR 10 [2 July 1867] 213).
The practice of northern “Churches of Christ”–extending into the early 20th century with Daniel Sommer among others–encouraged women to pray audibly, exhort the congregation and participate in the leadership of the song service. This pervasive practice among northern congregations was ultimately overwhelmed by the practice of the more dominant southern “Churches of Christ” who regarded any public role by women as unseemly and unbiblical (e.g., David Lipscomb and James A. Harding). Their influence squelched the practices of the northern churches and silenced the women in the assembly except for congregational singing. Daniel Sommer noted this trend and remonstrated against it.
It is good to see some congregations of “Churches of Christ” renewing the practice of their 19th century northern ancestors and opening the assembly to hear the female voice in prayer, reading, and exhortation.