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Jarena Lee felt imbued with a religious mission in life and because of this she bravelydefied the conservative sex biases of the church to become as she contended thefirst female preacher of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church As anevangelist Mrs Lee sometimes traveled on foot to spread her religious message andwould walk as far as 16 miles to preach When over forty years old the unordainedminister logged 2325 miles on the Gospel circuit She preached up and down theEastern Shore and traveled into sections of Illinois and Ohio converting blacks as wellBelieved to have been born free in Cape May New Jersey February 11 1783to parents who were wholly ignorant of the knowledge of God she left home at theage of seven to work as a maid sixty miles away Her first religious experienceoccurred relatively late in life--in 1804 when she was twenty-one Listening to a localProtestant missionary who was holding services in a schoolroom she becameoverwhelmed by the weight of my sins Afterward she contemplated committingsuicide and credited the unseen arm of God with preventing herAfter moving to Philadelphia she was inspired by the preaching of the ReverendRichard Allen founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and becamegloriously converted to God Five years later she experienced a religioussanctification of mind and spirit and was moved by a vision to preach She went to seethe Reverend Allen who informed her that she could hold prayer meetings but that hisdiscipline did not call for women preachers Later writing in her journal she reflected onO how careful ought we to be lest through our by-laws of churchgovernment and discipline we bring into disrepute even the word of life For as unseemly as it may appear now-a-days for a woman to preach itshould be remembered that nothing is impossible with God And whyshould it be thought impossible heterodox or improper for a woman topreach seeing the Savior died for the woman as well as for the manIf
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