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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

72 The larger number of the deaconesses at the central house


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Conference Hall, too, should have a further word of recommendation for the truly catholic spirit in which it serves the interests of a myriad of good causes. Besides the crowded meetings of the conference there are held Sunday services throughout the year. The hospitality of its rooms is readily granted to every good cause with which the mission has sympathy. During 1887 "temperance society meetings, railway men and their wives, Moravian missions, Pastor Bost's mission at La Force, the MacAll Paris missions, the Sunday closing movement, young men's and young women's Christian associations, a Christian police association, the Children's Special Service mission, the Christmas Letter mission, Bible readings for German residents, and various other foreign and home missions have all in turn been advocated here."[72]

The larger number of the deaconesses at the central house, as well as the twenty-five at the branch house in South London, are employed in twenty-one London parishes, where their work has been sought by the clergymen; they go to all, undertaking every kind of labor that can give them access to the hearts and homes of the people. While co-operating with the clergyman in charge of a parish their work is superintended from the Deaconess Home. They visit from house to house among the sick and poor, hold mothers' meetings, teach night-schools, hold Bible-classes separately for men, women, and children; hold special classes for working women

and girls who are kept busily employed during the day, and during the winter months have a weekly average of more than nine thousand attendants on their services. They are solving the problem of "how to save the masses" by resolving the masses into individuals, and then influencing these individuals by the power of personal effort and love.

But a few steps from Conference Hall is the Nursing Home, where about one hundred "nurse sisters," nurses, and probationers make their home in the intervals between their duties, and are presided over by a lady superintendent of their own. Adjoining is the Cottage Hospital, a beautiful building, the gift of a lady in memory of her son. The walls have been painted and decorated throughout by some ladies who delight in using their skill to make beautiful the homes of the sick.

A large hospital and medical mission also exist in Bethnal Green, a densely populated part of London that in some portions can vie with the worst slums of the city. It was so necessary to provide better accommodations for nursing the sufferers than could be found in their poor homes that a warehouse was fitted up with beds and transformed into a small hospital. In 1887 four hundred and thirteen patients were received at the hospital, and in the dispensary for outside patients sixteen thousand four hundred and eighteen visits were paid during the year, nearly two thirds of which number were to patients in their own houses. There is no place in which a hospital could be more sorely needed than in this destitute part of London, and perhaps no place where it could be more appreciated. "I had no idea," said a man of the better class who was brought in, "of there being such a place as this; you give as much attention to the poorest man you get out of the street as could be given to a prince."[73]

Every Christmas some kind of an entertainment is arranged for the hospital patients, and, through the gift of friends, articles of warm clothing are distributed to protect against the winter's cold.

A variety of mission work is carried on in connection with Bethnal Green. There is a Men's Institute, open every evening except Sunday and Monday, in connection with which is a savings' bank that is well patronized. There is a Lads' Institute, where the deaconesses have classes and meet the boys in a friendly way; a men's lodging-house, where a comfortable bed and shelter can be had for eight cents a night. The latter is an enterprise which could be imitated with profit in all our large American cities, where it is very difficult for the homeless and poverty-stricken to obtain a decent lodging, or to find any place, in fact, where liquor is not sold. There are also evangelistic services in the mission here, Sunday-schools, Bible-classes, temperance meetings, a soup kitchen, and a coffee bar, where, during Christmas week, between four and five hundred men and boys were given light refreshments, and at the same time some idea of the kindliness and good-will that are associated with this happy season of the year.


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