Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from stjeromeschapel.org. I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is January 8th, 2009: the feast of Blessed Harriet Bedell.
Because of the marginalized status of women throughout so much of history, it’s sadly easy to forget that there have been some truly extraordinary women who were not defined by the cultural realities of their day and achieved success that would be impressive for anyone, male or female, even in our day. One such woman is the one we remember today, the Deaconess Harriet Bedell.
Born in 1875, she was educated at the New York Training School for Deaconesses, and became a missionary-teacher in Oklahoma, where she served primarily the Cheyenne. She also served in Alaska before moving to Florida where she used much of her own money to reopen the mission with the Mikasuki Indians. She helped them to restore some of their traditional crafts, and to sell the results.
As was the custom at the time, she accepted mandatory retirement at the age of 63, but she didn’t think that meant that she would have to stop her ministry. She remained active well into her 80s.
Because of her status as a Deaconess, we hear today Paul’s instruction to the Church at Rome, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.” (Romans 16:1-2)
Deaconess Bedell is no less worthy of Paul’s praise. This woman of faith in action, who, in the early 20th century, drove an average of 20,000 miles a year to do her work, was indeed a benefactor to many, and to us as well.
Let us pray: Holy God, you chose your faithful servant Harriet Bedell to exercise the ministry of deaconess and to be a missionary among indigenous peoples: Fill us with compassion and respect for all people, and empower us for the work of ministry throughout the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us on February 28th at stjeromeschapel.org for the feast of Blessed Anna Julia Heywood Cooper. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.
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