JARENA LEE

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Jarena Lee (February 11, 1783 – ?) was a 19th-century African-American woman who left behind an eloquent account of her religious experience. She was also the first woman authorized to preach by Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1819.[1] 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”.[1] Lee’s importance is threefold. First, she exemplifies the 19th-century American religious movement’s focus on personal holiness and sanctification. Second, she left a detailed account of her life of faith that serves as a valuable primary source. Third, she became an eloquent witness to her faith and a pioneer for women seeking license to preach in the Methodist traditions.

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