Jarena Lee

Mother Bethel AME Church and Moonstone Present
AME Women Activists
for Social Justice
Sunday October 13, 1 pm
Mother Bethel AME Church, 419 S. 6th Street
Dr. Mark Kelly Tyler, Pastor


Mother Bethel will highlight the life of Ms. Jarena Lee who was born February 11, 1783. In 1819, in an age when women were prohibited by social and religious custom from preaching, Jarena Lee became the first woman to be authorized to preach by Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Although he at first denied her request, Bishop Allen was so moved by Lee’s spontaneous exhortation during a visiting minister’s sermon that he “rose up in the assembly, and related that [she] had called upon him eight years before, asking to be permitted to preach, and that he had put [her] off; but that he now as much believed that [she] was called to that work, as any of the preachers present.”

Despite Allen’s blessing, Lee continued to face hostility to her ministry because she was black and a woman. She became a traveling minister, traveling thousands of miles on foot. In one year alone, she “travelled two thousand three hundred and twenty-five miles, and preached one hundred and seventy-eight sermons.”

In 1833, Jarena Lee began working with an editor to turn her religious journal into an autobiography. Three years later she had 1000 copies of her Religious Experience and Journal printed, and began distributing it at camp meetings, organizational meetings, and on the street. In 1839, one year before she joined the American Antislavery Society, she had another 1000 copies printed, and in 1849 she printed an expanded version, which carried her autobiography up to her 50th year

The program will include a solo dramatization of Jarena Lee, poetry by Mrs. Kristina Mosley, and a panel discussion moderated by Mrs. Leslie Tyler

This Program is part of Moonstone’s
Hidden History Series Presentation on
Voices of Women – A City Wide Festival
October 12 to November 9, 2013
Made Possible by grants from the Lomax Family Foundation
and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council
For More information www.moonstoneartscenter.org/voicesofwomen
or 215-735-9600

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