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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

The restorer of the office of deaconess


We

have now reached the nineteenth century, and from the early Church to the present time we find successive if sporadic attempts to incorporate into the Church the active diaconate of women. These constantly recurring efforts imply a consciousness, deep, if unexpressed, of the need to utilize better the especial gifts of women in Christian service. We have reached the moment when this consciousness is to take a suitable and enduring form; when the Church machinery, long defective in this particular, is to be re-adjusted and made complete.

[18] _Die Weibliche Diakonie_, vol. i, p. 67. [19] _Woman's Work in the Church_, Ludlow, p. 117, note. "Matthew Paris mentions it as one of the wonders of the age, for the year 1250, that in Germany there rose up an innumerable multitude of those continent women who wish to be called Beguines, to that extent that Cologne was inhabited by more than a thousand of them." [20] _Die Weibliche Diakonie_, Schaefer, vol. i, p. 70. [21] _Der Diakonissenberuf_ E. Wacker, p. 82. [22] _Denkschrift zur Jubelfeier_, J. Disselhoff, p. 5. Guetersloh, 1888. [23] _Die Weibliche Diakonie_, vol. i, p. 73. [24] _Histoire de la principaute de Sedan_, Pasteur Pegran, vol. ii, chaps. i, ii.

CHAPTER IV.

FLIEDNER, THE RESTORER OF THE OFFICE OF DEACONESS.

justify;"> The first years of the present century were sad years for Germany. There was a life-and-death struggle with an all-powerful conqueror to preserve existence as a nation. The Germans still call this "the war for freedom." Immediately thereafter followed a period of religious awakening, and this proved to be the hour when the diaconate of woman rose again to life and power. When the fullness of time arrives for a cause or a movement to take its place among the forces of society, many hearts become impressed with its importance. So, between the years 1820 and 1835, there were four several attempts to awaken the Christian Church to an enlightened conscience in this matter, the last of which obtained a wide and an enduring success. The first was made by Johann Adolph Franz Kloenne, pastor of the church at Bislich, near Wesel. Stirred to admiration by the activity that the women's societies had shown in the Napoleonic wars, he lamented the fact that the associations had dissolved, and complained that they had not taken a permanent form, in which the members might have performed the duties for the Church that deaconesses had done in the early years of Christianity. In 1820 he published a pamphlet entitled _The Revival of the Deaconesses of the Primitive Church in our Women's Associations_. This he sent to many persons of influence, trying to win their co-operation for the cause. He received a great many answers in reply, among them one from the Crown Princess Marianne. But while in a general way his project met with approval, no one could suggest a practical method by which his thought could be realized.

A distinguished woman, Amalie Sieveking, attempted the same task of utilizing the labor of Christian women as deaconesses in the Church. She belonged to a well-known patrician family in the old free city of Hamburg, and was well known for her


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