On January 8, the Church remembers Harriet Bedell, Deaconess and Missionary, 1969. This is her biographical sketch from A Great Cloud of Witnesses.
Harriet Bedell was born in Buffalo, New York, on March 19, 1875.Inspired by an Episcopal missionary, she enrolled as a student at theNew York Training School for Deaconesses, where she was instructedin religion, missions, teaching, and hygiene. She then became amissionary-teacher among the Cheyenne at the Whirlwind Mission inOklahoma. In 1916, Bedell was sent to Stevens Village, Alaska, whereshe was finally set apart as a deaconess in 1922. She also served as ateacher and nurse at St. John’s in the Wilderness at Allakaket, just 40miles south of the Arctic Circle, from which she sometimes traveledby dogsled to remote villages. During her last years in Alaska, Bedellopened a boarding school.In 1932, hearing about the plight of the Seminoles in Florida, Bedellused her own salary to reopen a mission among the Mikasuki Indians.There, she worked to revive some of their traditional crafts: dollmaking,basket-weaving, and intricate patchwork designs. The artsand crafts store that they established to sell their handicrafts improvedthe economy of the Blades Cross Mission. Though officially forcedto retire at age 63, Bedell continued her ministry of health care,education, and economic empowerment until 1960 when HurricaneDonna wiped out her mission.Active into her eighties, Deaconess Bedell drove an average of 20,000miles per year during her ministry. She was one of the most popularwriters in the national Episcopal mission periodical, The Spirit ofMissions. Bedell won the respect of indigenous people through hercompassion and respect for their way of life and beliefs. While activein ministry among the Cheyenne, she was eventually adopted into thetribe and given the name “Bird Woman.” The Diocese of SouthwestFlorida has long celebrated Harriet Bedell Day on January 8, theanniversary of her death in 1969.
This is the collect for her day.
Holy God, you chose your faithful servant HarriettBedell to exercise the ministry of deaconess and tobe a missionary among indigenous peoples: Fill uswith compassion and respect for all people, andempower us for the work of ministry throughoutthe world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who livesand reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,for ever and ever. Amen.