Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Shepastor Highlights the "Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee"
Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee
In honor of Black History Month, today Shepastor highlights Jarena Lee, preacher extraordinaire! In 1819, Jarena Lee became the first woman to be authorized to preach by Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Below is an excerpt of her experiences in her own words… (Excerpts from PBS online series, "Africans in America")
I now began to think seriously of breaking up housekeeping, and forsaking all to preach the everlasting Gospel. I felt a strong desire to return to the place of my nativity, at Cape May, after an absence of about fourteen years. To this place, where the heaviest cross was to be met with, the Lord sent me, as Saul of Tarsus was sent to Jerusalem, to preach the same gospel which he had neglected and despised before his conversion. I went by water, and on my passage was much distressed by sea sickness, so much so that I expected to have died, but such was not the will of the Lord respecting me. After I had disembarked, I proceeded on as opportunities offered toward where my mother lived. When within ten miles of that place, I appointed an evening meeting.
There were a goodly number came out to hear. The Lord was pleased to give me light and liberty among the people. After meeting, there came an elderly lady to me and said, she believed the Lord had rent me among them: she then appointed me another meeting there two weeks from that night. The next day I hastened forward to the place of my mother. who was happy to see me, and the happiness was mutual between us. With her I left my poor sickly boy while I departed to do my Master' s will. In this neighborhood I had an uncle, who was a Methodist and who gladly threw open his door for meetings to be held there. At the first meeting which I held at my uncle's house, there was, with others who had come from curiosity to hear the woman preacher, an old man, who was a Deist, and who said he did not believe the coloured people had any souls -- he was sure they had none. He took a seat very near where I was standing, and boldly tried to look me out of countenance. But as I labored on in the best manner I was able, looking to God all the while, though it seemed to me I had but little liberty, yet there went an arrow from the bent bow of the gospel, and fastened in his till then obdurate heart.
After I had done speaking, he went out, and called the people around him, said that my preaching might seem a small thing, yet be believed I had the worth of souls at heart. This language was different from what it was a little time before, as he now seemed to admit that coloured people had souls, as it was to these I was chiefly speaking; and unless they had souls, whose good I had in view, his remark must have been without meaning. He now came into the house, and in the most friendly manner shook hands with me, saying, he hoped God had spared him to some good purpose. This man was a great slave holder, and had been very cruel ; thinking, nothing of knocking down a slave with a fence stake, or whatever might come to hand. From this time it was said of him that he became greatly altered in his ways for the better. At that time he was about seventy years old, his head as white as snow; but whether be became a converted man or not, I never heard…
What a powerful testimony of faith, determination and holy boldness! May we as clerygwomen gain strength and inspiration to persevere as we consider the paths that our forebearers tread to open doors for us today!
To read more about Jarena Lee, visit the PBS website at
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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,