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Serving Others: Sister Elizabeth

February 25, 2021

“So if I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” John 13:14-15

Today the church commemorates Elizabeth Fedde, deaconess, who died on this day in 1921. Fedde was born on Christmas Day in Feda, near the southern coast of Norway. The daughter of a sea captain, she trained as a deaconess at the Lovisenberg Deaconess House in Christiania (now Oslo). Her early career was spent in northern Norway, where she helped establish a medical house in Tromsø, living and working under harsh conditions.

On Christmas Day in 1882, Sister Elizabeth received a letter from her brother-in-law, inviting her to set up a ministry for Norwegian seaman in New York City. After arriving in America in 1883, she helped found the Norwegian Relief Society. In 1885, she opened the Deaconess House in Brooklyn and a nine-bed hospital that would eventually become the Lutheran Medical Center of Brooklyn. Her ministry took her to the midwest, where she established the Deaconess House and Hospital of the Lutheran Free Church in Minneapolis. She also helped Pastor Andreas Mortensen plan hospitals in Chicago (what is now Advocate Lutheran General Hospital) and in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Fedde returned to Norway in 1895, marrying a suitor from before her missionary days, Ole Slettebo. She died 100 years ago today, leaving behind a legacy of serving others in the name of Christ and shaping both the church and the medical community in our country.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of mercy, you send servants in all times and places to minister to your people. Thank you for the witness of Elizabeth. We pray for all those who serve as deacons and deaconesses today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Portrait of Elizabeth Fedde, anonymous, circa 1880 (public domain).

From → COVID-19

One Comment
  1. Ruth Reko permalink

    Thanks for your meditation on Sr. Elizabeth Fedde. Having several close connections with the ministries you mention I really appreciated your good words. Sr. Elizabeth’s pictures were prominently displayed at Lutheran Medical Center and this day was observed every year. I also served 2 terms on the board of Seaman’s International House in Manhattan. The last 2 years Grace Knitters have made caps for Christmas at Sea gifts for those who are not able to come ashore or spend Christmas with their families in their home countries.

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