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Elizabeth Fedde

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Elizabeth Fedde was a Norwegian Lutheran Deaconess who established the Norwegian Relief Society to better served the Norwegian-American immigrant community.

Biography

Elizabeth Fedde was born on December 25, 1850 near Flekkefjord, Norway. She was trained as a deaconess at the Lovisenberg Deaconess House under the supervision of Mother Katinka Guldberg who had herself been trained at the Fliedner Motherhouse in Kaiserswerth, Germany.

Elizabeth spent much of her early career in Troms where she lived and worked under harsh and primitive conditions. On her thirty-second birthday, Sister Elizabeth received a letter from her brother-in-law Gabriel Fedde challenging her to set up a ministry in New York City for Norwegian seamen there. She departed for the United States three months later and finally arrived on April 9, 1883.[1]

Sister Elizabeth firmly established her work beginning on April 19 of the same year with the founding of the Norwegian Relief Society. The service establishing the society was presided by Pastor Mortensen; Gabriel had served as his secretary. In the beginning, the Relief Society was a boarding house with three small rooms rented for a price of $9 per month and located at 109 Williams Street, near the Seaman’s Church. Sister Elizabeth also made significant efforts at visiting the sick and distressed, often writing in a journal about her experiences.[2]

In 1885, Fedde opened a deaconess house for the training of other women to help in her ministry. Originally, the house consisted of a nine bed hospital that ultimately became Lutheran Medical Center of Brooklyn. After remaining in New York for several years, she left at the request of Lutherans in Minnesota to come and minister to them. She arrived in Minneapolis in 1888 and established the Lutheran Deaconess Home and Hospital of the Lutheran Free Church the next year and helped plan for a third hospital in Chicago.[3]

Eventually, the work in America proved to be exhausting and Sister Elizabeth returned to Norway in November 1895 to Ola Sletteb, a suitor whom she had left to conduct her missionary work. The two were married shortly after her return. Elizabeth died on February 25, 1921. She is commemorated on that date on the Calendar of Saints by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.[4][5]

References

  1. Memoirs of Sister Elizabeth (translated by P. J. Hertsgaard. Norwegian-American Studies and Records, Volume 20.)http://www.naha.stolaf.edu/pubs/nas/volume20/vol20_9.htm
  2. Elizabeth Fedde's Diary, 1888 (translated and edited by Beulah Folkedahl. Norwegian American Historic Association. Volume 20: Page 170)http://www.naha.stolaf.edu/pubs/nas/volume20/vol20_9.htm
  3. Lutheran Medical Center and School of Nursing, Brooklyn, New York(Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/History/ELCA-Archives/Exhibits/Lutheran-Deaconess-History/Norwegian-Deaconess-Home-and-Hospital-Brooklyn.aspx
  4. Sister Elizabeth Fedde of Norway (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)http://archive.elca.org/communication/timeline/1882.html
  5. Elizabeth Fedde, deaconess, February 25th (ELCA Lutheran Calendar of Saints) http://christianity.wikia.com/wiki/Lutheran_Calendar_of_Saints

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