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Elisabeth Fedde and the Deaconess Movement Among the Norwegians in America
Elisabeth Fedde, a deaconess from Norway, answered a call in 1883 to come and help sick and indigent Norwegians in Brooklyn. The group that called her expected that she would walk the streets of Brooklyn and minister to those she found in need. They did not know they had called a pioneer with unusual abilities. Before two years were out, she had begun a hospital and motherhouse to train deaconesses. Three years later she established a Deaconess Hospital and Motherhouse in Minneapolis. Her foresight, good humor and sheer grit made it possible for her to found what are now huge medical complexes in Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Chicago. Her story includes the history of the Lutheran Deaconess movement as it began in Germany, Norway and here, along with the struggles of American Lutherans as women began to take more public roles in society.This book tells what she suffered and how she struggled to make her dreams bear fruit.
Gracia Grindal draws a distinct picture of Elisabeth Fedde as a pious, but pragmatic and determined woman of strong convictions that led her to visionary, but demanding tasks serving the sick and needy both in Norway and America. The author successfully manages to shape a picture of the religious, social and cultural conditions that made Fedde’s life work possible. Thus, by giving us Sister Elisabeth’s life story in context, this book not only contributes to women’s history within the church, but also women’s history in general—a story worthwhile telling and sharing.
Kristin Kavli Adriansen, RN, Assistant professor, Univeristy of Stavanger, Norway
Here is an amazing account of a woman who stretched the nineteenth century societal limits as she followed the leading of the Holy Spirit to serve the needs of her day. This book offers the reader a window into the deaconess movement as it grew in Germany and Norway and spread into the United States, preparing the pathway for deaconess communities today. Such courage and tenacity in the midst of disappointments and disputes creates a compelling story that continues to inspire us today.
Rev. Deaconess Diane Greve, Fairview Health Services, Minneapolis
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Lutheran University Press
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