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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

Passavant resigned his pastoral charge



It was no part of the plan of this book, when first projected, to treat of the deaconess cause as it is developing within the United States of America, but gradually, through the kindness of many friends belonging to different denominations, a number of facts have been obtained which bear directly upon the question of how the example of European deaconess houses has influenced and is influencing the Protestant Churches of America; and it seems unwise to omit them from the consideration of the subject.

Naturally the German Lutherans, who were well acquainted with the deaconess work in their native land, were the first to try to introduce it among their churches. In the yearly report sent out from Kaiserswerth, January 1, 1847, Fliedner mentions that an urgent appeal had been made to him to send deaconesses to an important city in the United States, there to have the oversight of a hospital, and to found a mother-house for the training of deaconesses. In the report for the following year Fliedner again refers to the call from America, and states his intention to extend his travels to the New World, and to take with him sisters who shall aid in founding a mother-house. In the summer of 1849 he was enabled to carry out his intention, and July 14, 1849, accompanied by four deaconesses, he reached Pittsburg, Pa., where Rev. Dr. W. A. Passavant, who had written so many urgent appeals for

his aid, was awaiting him. The building had already been secured for a hospital and deaconess home, and, July 17, was solemnly dedicated at a service where Fliedner delivered the principal address, and a large audience testified to their interest.

Before his return to Europe Fliedner visited the New York Synod, and, in an English discourse, described the character and aims of Kaiserswerth, and commended the newly founded institution at Pittsburg to the sympathy and aid of the German Lutheran Church in America. No further results were reached, as the synod contented itself with resolving that "this Ministerium awaits with deep interest the result of the work made in behalf of the institution of Protestant deaconesses at Pittsburg."[78]

The institution is occasionally heard of afterward in the proceedings of the Pittsburg Synod, and in the paper, _The Missionary_, published under the auspices of the same Church. Urgent appeals were also sent out for devoted Christian women to come to the aid of the sisters and to join their numbers; but although the hospital, commended by their skillful and able ministrations as nurses, had the full approval of the public, there were few, if any, who came to join them, and they were unduly burdened by a task too great for their small number.

In 1854 Dr. Passavant resigned his pastoral charge, and devoted his entire time to the furtherance of the cause, but, up to the present, it has not attained the complete organization and wide extension that its friends in the German Lutheran Church have desired.

The institutions which owe their existence to Dr. Passavant's efforts are the infirmary at Pittsburg; the hospital and deaconess home in Milwaukee; the hospital in Jacksonville, Ill.; the orphanages for girls in Rochester and Mount Vernon, N. Y., and one for boys in Pennsylvania.

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