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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

61 Deaconess Work in England


connection with the London West Central Mission there is an association of ladies called the Sisters of the People. "They are expected to be worthy of the beautiful name they bear. They are true sisters of the unprivileged and the disheartened; as ready to make a bed, cook a dinner, or nurse a baby as to minister to the higher need of the immortal spirit. The sisters live together in the neighborhood of their work, and wear a distinctive dress as a protection and for other reasons; but they take no vows, and are at liberty to withdraw from the mission at any time. Their work is directed by Mrs. Hughes. Katherine House, the residence of the Sisters of the People, was opened early in November, 1887, and from that day the work of the sisters dates its commencement. Their daily labors are very similar to those of the deaconesses of Mildmay, who work among the London parishes. Each sister has a district allotted to her, which she visits regularly and systematically. The first object which she sets before herself is to get to know the people, and to make them feel that she is their true sister and friend, irrespective of the fact that they are themselves good or bad, respectable or degraded. When once true friendliness is established, the way is opened for direct religious influence; and many, who in the first instance would never pay any attention to religion, will listen to an appeal from one whom they love and respect."[64]

Katherine House accommodates

twelve sisters. A second house is urgently needed, and a strong plea is made for it in the Report.

There are besides "out sisters," who work with the sisters but reside at their own homes. This is a valuable feature of this mission, as it interests ladies who are living in their own homes, and yet who can be very useful to those who devote their whole work to the sisters' labor. In the Report a great many instances are given which show what an intimate knowledge of the poor people is obtained by these sisters, and in what practical ways they minister to the bodily and spiritual needs of those whom they find in their house-to-house visitations. The term "sister," as it is used in the report of the London West Central Mission, is in all respects a synonym for "deaconess," as the name is understood in the large deaconess establishment at Mildmay. To the study of this we shall devote the following chapter.

[52] Daniel Neal's _History of the Puritans_, London, 1703, vol. i, pp. 344-346. [53] _Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers of the Colony of Plymouth, from 1602 to 1625._ By Alex. Young. Second edition. Boston: C. E. Little & J. Brown, 1844, pp. 455, 456. [54] Schaefer, _Die Weibliche Diakonie_, vol. i, p. 207. [55] _The Royal Guide to London Churches_ for 1866, 1867. By Herbert Fry, p. 162. [56] _Official Year-book of the Church of England_, 1889. [57] _Andover Review_, June, 1888, art., "European Deaconesses," p. 578. [58] _Deaconesses in the Church of England._ Griffith & Farran: London, 1880, p. 22. [59] _Official Year-book of the Church of England_, 1889. [60] _Armen und Kranken Freund_, October, 1888. [61] "Deaconess Work in England," _The Churchman_, May 19, 1888. [62] I am indebted to the kindness of the Rt. Rev. the Bishop of Wakefield for these numbers, upon whom the mantle of Dean Howson seems to have fallen in caring for the deaconess cause. [63] _London Diocesan Deaconess District Services._ [64] _First Annual Report of the London West Central Mission_, pp. 14-42.

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