Bound and free

"I now began to think seriously of breaking up housekeeping," Jarena Lee wrote, looking back on a pivotal moment in her life, "and forsaking all to preach the everlasting Gospel." In 1804, when Lee was in despair over her sins and on the brink of suicide, she heard the future African Methodist Episcopal bishop Richard Allen preach a sermon. That day, Lee found a people with whom she wanted to unite, and over the next several weeks she gained confidence in God's forgiveness and her own salvation.

Several years later, Lee began to preach, which upset Allen and other church leaders, who allowed women to serve as exhorters but restricted the ministry to educated, ordained men.


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