If you're anything like me, your first thoughts of the northeastern corner of our nation revolve around the Pilgrims, Paul Revere, or contrite churchgoers assembling in a white-steepled house of worship.
From the Pilgrims, my mind instantly flows to the importance of religious freedom. Paul Revere connects with the rallying cry "taxation without representation!" and the importance of the governed having a say in how they are governed. I assume that all of the contrite churchgoers were members of large families, lived in harmony with each other, and used industrious techniques to build a better life for themselves.
Are any of those thought patterns inherently wrong? No, not necessarily. The Pilgrims were indeed in search of a new land where they could worship God as they chose, but what some people may not know is that the Pilgrims did not extend religious freedom to those who believed differently than they themselves did; Roger Williams being a prime example. Paul Revere was a key leader in the push for American independency, but the Declaration of Independence that was drafted a year after his midnight ride didn't guarantee equal rights to both white and black Americans. I have no doubt that many New Englanders of religious persuasion worked hard, but almost certainly there was not continual harmony of thought within the congregation. And while families may have been larger back in the nineteenth century, due to less advanced medical knowledge there were higher mortality rates. Grief was mixed with joy.
In other words, our first instincts about eras of history are not completely incorrect; I'd argue more that our ideas are incomplete. Digging into the facts of history can help provide a more nuanced yet truthful view of American history. And as the cut and dried history we learned about in elementary school gives way to the messiness of reality, I'd wager the complexity makes the study of those who came before us more meaningful, relatable, and relevant to our modern lives. Hold that thought for a minute...
* * *
Earlier this summer, my wife and I had the privilege of spending a few days at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. For those unacquainted with this establishment, it is a living history museum (similar to Colonial Williamsburg) set in 1830's New England. This is a lesser-studied era in our national story, sandwiched in between the American Revolution and the Civil War. Old Sturbridge Village - and especially their friendly interpreters - do a marvelous job of bringing this time period to life. I sense that during this time, people looked to the past proudly with patriotic spirit yet looked to the future with optimism, particularly in the realms of abolition and industry. I had visited Old Sturbridge Village once before, while on a whirlwind tour of the northeast back in my college days, but have not been back since. This trip, my wife and I would be sharing the experience together. We also aimed to spend enough time to slow down and absorb as much of the history as possible.
In many ways, Old Sturbridge Village was like I remembered it: the noble Center Meetinghouse at the head of the Village Green and the Salem Towne House bringing up the rear. Between the two buildings, homes and storefronts dotted the picturesque landscape. If I looked right from the Salem Towne House, my glance fell upon the Bullard Tavern. Beyond the Tavern, across the river and through the woods, was the sawmill, blacksmith, and Freeman Farm. If I looked left, my glance fell upon the Thompson Bank. Beyond the bank was the printing office and a gallery showcasing military equipment of the time period.
But there were new additions, too: a cabinet making shop was now erected next to the Center Meetinghouse and a gallery describing regional parades dotted the museum campus in multiple locations. Most satisfying, however, was actually slowing down enough to talk to the interpreters; back during my college days I had covered a lot of literal ground in my time there but talked with few if any of the historically-garbed staff. Now, my wife and I stepped into the shoemaker's shop. We learned not only about how shoes were assembled, but how brain numbing the work was, often encouraging young men to transfer to other careers once enough money had been saved up. One day we encountered a flute player in a home, another day an interpreter giving a demonstration of a concertina in the Tavern. Listening to music of the time period at the Village richly added to our experience, giving a us a slightly better taste of what life in the 1830's might have been like.
My favorite stop was the printing office. The interpreter there was both entertaining and educational, teasing that New England got its start when a bunch of religious radicals crash landed at Plymouth in 1620. But what especially caught my attention was how he weaved the rise of literacy and the demise of poverty in the region to politics and economics. The printer shared how in the 1830's, politicians wanted voters to be literate and educated. This was as a lack of legible handwriting would cause ones' vote to be discarded. Furthermore, if a printer was not contracted to print enough ballots, the voters would have to write out the entire ballot and make their selection! I suddenly started to not take for granted the electronic voting machines I have used when casting my ballot. The idea of politicians back then encouraging literacy and education stands in sharp contrast to some politicians of today. Definite pause for reflection! I also found myself learning about why slavery was eradicated from the North prior to the Civil War. Previously, I had assumed it was because those in the North were, overall, more morally righteous than those in the South. Our energetic printer shared how in reality, it was due to the economics of the situation: it was cheaper to pay free dayworkers their salary only as opposed to healthcare, lodging, food, and more. Interesting. And I'm sure that much more nuanced discussions could be had on these topics; I only relate these lines to illustrate how interesting history is when you get into the details and how pleasant it is to interact with the interpreters at Old Sturbridge Village. It is a wise use of your vacation time!
* * *
A few weeks after returning from our New England trip, I noticed that Old Sturbridge Village was hosting an upcoming women's history weekend. One program's title particularly intrigued me: A World to Win: Women Missionaries. Remember I told you to hold that thought about how the complexity of history often makes the study of this subject more meaningful? Well, pick that thought up again. I always love learning about the nuances of American history, especially how minorities or overlooked demographics have played into our national story. My immediate thoughts of early missionaries are of men, such as Hudson Taylor or Adoniram Judson. But women missionaries? This would be riveting to learn about. Unfortunately, I was unable to make a return trip to Massachusetts to experience the program in person. So I did the next best thing: emailed Old Sturbridge Village, expressed my interest in the subject, and asked if they would be willing to share with me the names of the women who were discussed in the program. A few days later, one of the interpreters very kindly emailed me back - sharing both names and recommendations of resources to start my study with. One of the female missionaries that the program focused on was Hannah Moore, and a book by the name of Hannah Moore: A Biography of a Nineteenth Century Missionary and Teacher by Isabel Weigold was recommended to me.
To be honest, I had never heard of Hannah Moore (also spelled More) before. My next step was to Google "Hannah Moore missionary" to see what I could discover. Not surprisingly, the first result was an Amazon listing for the Weigold book. What caught me off guard, however, was the second result: a link to a letter that one of my faith denominations' founding pioneers wrote about Hannah Moore. My curiosity was immediately piqued.
Shortly thereafter I was able to procure a copy of Weigold's book through the wonders of interlibrary loan. It did not disappoint. Hannah Moore was born during 1808 in Union, Connecticut. She was part of a large family who worked hard on their farm and faithfully attended the local Congregational church. Hannah grew to be a deeply religious child, most likely a product of both her family's views and the religious revivals sweeping New England as part of the Second Great Awakening.
Evidently the young girl had both passion for religion as well as skill for memorization, as two community leaders noted her ability to cite several hundred verses of Scripture. She also enjoyed writing poetry. Moore started her formal education in a one-room schoolhouse that was located approximately one mile away from her home. The habits of cleanliness and punctuality were taught in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Early 1800's New England was a time of old traditions and new ideas. Moore had experienced work in a local mill; but the unhealthy working conditions did not keep her there for long. Generally, young women were expected to get married and raise children. Hannah Moore aspired to be a foreign missionary.
At the age of 25, Moore sought to join the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, an organization with strong Congregationalist ties which sent missionaries all around the globe. Despite a positive recommendation from a reverend she knew, the ABCFM rejected her. They suggested that a single young woman could do as much good for the Lord in New England as in any remote outpost. Her lack of education was also an impairment. Over the next eight years, Moore both attended and taught school in New England, all the while keeping up correspondence with the ABCFM. She never got married, but her increased educational experience and perhaps her sustained persistence found her finally a sponsored missionary of the ABCFM in 1841. The organization assigned her to the Dwight Mission in Oklahoma Territory, where thousands of Cherokee had been displaced due to the infamous Trail of Tears. With a heart full of compassion and courage, Moore set off on a fifteen-hundred mile journey to the center of the American continent.
The Dwight Mission had been established in 1820 by Cephas Washburn and Jacob Hitchcock, both religious men from New England. Moore was selected to replace Ellen Stetson, who had been teaching the female students since the Mission's inception. She found the countryside beautiful and the mission buildings better than she had expected them to be. However, the threat of disease was very real. Moore experienced malaria about a month after arriving, but thankfully survived. Others were not as fortunate. Moore found her pupils capable of academic accomplishment but lacking substantial foundational skills in subjects like arithmetic. Starting at the beginning, she found that the students learned better and began to succeed. After she taught them the information they had been lacking, the students began to succeed.
Soon, however, tensions began to form between her and Hitchcock. Hitchcock thought women should defer to male authority figures, while Moore thought female missionaries should be treated as equals with their male counterparts. This contrast was first evidenced when Moore was requested to give her pupils over to the tutelage of another teacher almost as soon as she herself had started teaching, then when she declared that the primary duty of teachers was to educate their pupils rather than carry out domestic labor, and most of all, when she desired to attend to students' spiritual desires as well as educational pursuits.
"Undeterred, she continued working towards her goal of "saving souls", with the hope that a minister would soon arrive who could confirm her efforts. She told her students, "I did not leave my home and friends and come out here merely to teach the sciences or how to work, but I had another object in view even the salvation of their immortal souls and would direct them to the Lamb of God."" (p. 20)
Hannah Moore was delighted with the arrival of Rev. Worcester Willey in 1845, as the Mission had not enjoyed the permanent presence of a minister since 1840. Willey, like Moore, thought it more important to pursue spiritual benefit for the Indians than the approval of Mission personnel.
Moore enjoyed the approval and appreciation of her pupils and their families. At the end of one school term, the parents sent Moore a horse in order for her to visit some of her students at their homes. It was a bittersweet experience; Moore found herself the recipient of much respect and attention, but she was saddened to observe that almost all of the children had slaves to wait on them. Moore later penned, "I feel confident if slavery could be done away with then would they make far greater progress in the arts and sciences." (p. 24)
I found it interesting to read of a missionary in this time period who found that people owning slaves diminished their own personal development.
Hitchcock continued to complain to his superiors about Moore, falsely claiming that she was selfishly spending money on herself. The mission founder eventually demanded the ABCFM to reassign Moore to a different station. Accordingly, in late 1845, Hannah Moore moved to a mission among the Choctaw nation. Hannah tried to look on the bright side, but sadly similar issues followed her. A deadly epidemic of fever took several of her students, and Hannah herself lost sight in one eye. Furthermore, a new law prevented any missionary from teaching African Americans, whether free or held in bondage.
In January 1847, Moore penned her objections over the slavery issue to her ABCFM superiors. Unfortunately, they did not share her abolitionist views, and a need to return for a visit with her ailing father served as cover for dismissing Moore from the service of the organization. Reverend Daniel Green explained the ABCFM's decision:
"I can appreciate your feelings in the dislike you express of laboring in country where slavery is maintained. There must be much that is painful and disheartening in the scenes which such a state of things presents. But I suppose that we must have some patience with these evils which we cannot at once correct, though they offend and grieve us. God's forbearance is far greater than ours, though those evils are far more offensive to him." (p. 29)
However, Hannah Moore was not one to sit back and let things happen. After a year of healing and rest in her native New England, she taught school for two years in New York. She then aligned herself with the American Missionary Association, who had strong abolitionist ties. And as Christmas 1850 approached, she found herself boarding a ship bound for Sierra Leone, Africa.
* * *
The American Missionary Association had been birthed out of the Amistad Committee. The story of the Amistad is complicated and completely new to me, so forgive me if in my brief coverage a few points are incorrect.
In short, in 1839 some 50+ Mendi persons were stolen from present-day Sierra Leone and forced onto the transatlantic slave trade by two Spanish plantation owners named Don José Ruiz and Don Pedro Montes. Ruiz and Montes intended for the new slaves to work on their plantations near Camagüey, Cuba. Arriving in Havana, the enslaved Mendi were transferred to the Amistad schooner. Tired of the cruel treatment, a Mendi by the name of Sengbe Pieh broke his chains and started a revolt. No firearms had been secured, but the Africans had providentially found a box of knives. Soon the captain and cook of the ship were killed. Ruiz and Montes were ordered by the triumphant Pieh and company to take them back to Africa. Instead, Ruiz and Montes deceived the Mendi and sailed north along the American coast at night, confident that the Amistad would be intercepted and the Mendi re-enslaved. The ship was apprehended near Long Island, New York. The Mendi were thrown in prison and awaited a court hearing.
As one might imagine, just about everyone had an opinion on what should happen to the Mendi. The Spanish government demanded the Mendi returned to Cuba as slaves. President Martin Van Buren was in agreement, but as the executive branch could not interfere with the judiciary branch, his hands were tied. It was a complex matter involving dispute between countries, state vs. federal control, and the morality of slavery in America. The case worked its way up to the Supreme Court amid vast public consciousness and debate. Former U.S. President John Quincy Adams argued in support of the Mendi's freedom, and in 1841 the Supreme Court granted the Africans this status.
While the United States had granted the Mendi their freedom, the nation did not provide any money for the Africans to return to their native land. This is where the Amistad Committee, a.k.a. American Missionary Association, ties into the story. Not only did the Association raise money for the Mendi to return to Sierra Leone, but also sought to establish a mission among this people. Lewis Tappan, an abolitionist influential in the Association, sent William Raymond and a few other missionaries with the Mendi on their return trip in November 1841. Like Squanto returning to his homeland two centuries before, the Amistad Mendi found their homeland decimated by disease and warring tribes. A mission was first constructed about 25 miles south of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. In 1844 it was moved to the more permanent location of Kaw-Mendi, about 40 miles from Freetown.
Despite unrest and war, the Kaw-Mendi Mission was blessed with success. Raymond worked hard and cultivated positive relationships with the native peoples of the region. Manual labor was a primary component of the program for both boys and girls. Unfortunately, Rev. Raymond died in November 1847. Tappan replaced him with abolitionist and reverend George Thompson.
"Thompson fervently supported the abolition of the slave trade and was hopeful that the gospel missions in Africa would be a means of arresting this "abominable business." An article entitled "Mendi Mission" in the Oberlin Evangelist dated September 27, 1848, proclaimed: "Let the gospel elevate the pagans of Africa to Christian citizens, and they would cease to fight and enslave each other. The slave trade 'must die;' the Christian nations of the world would be stripped of their last apology for enslaving Africans."" (p. 44)
Despite his good intentions, Thompson faced resistance externally from the local slave traders and internally due to lack of attention, supplies, and personnel from the American Missionary Association. Thompson was in poor health and discouragement did not help; he sailed for New York, home, and a two-year furlough in late 1850. It just so happened that Thompson arrived shortly before Moore and her party departed, to his great joy.
Similar to her experience at the Dwight Mission, Moore found the countryside and buildings of the Kaw-Mendi Mission much to her liking. Unfortunately, disease and bickering internal politics were just as present in Africa as in America. Three missionary women in total had sailed for Africa in 1850. Only Moore survived the attack of malaria.
The Kaw-Mendi mission operated like a large family: the minister was thought of as the father figure and the teachers as mothers since all took care of the often orphaned children. When George Thompson returned to Kaw-Mendi with his family in 1852, his hopes for an increased staff were dashed upon learning how many had died. Moore was put in charge of all the girls at the Mission and provided lessons in economy and sewing. Despite the isolation, disease, and general privation, Moore felt "her efforts amply rewarded" (p. 51) when her pupils accepted Christ into their hearts.
"It fell to Hannah to take on Thompson's work as well as her own. In addition to managing the Mission school, caring for the gardens, nursing the children through a mumps epidemic, and tending to the new missionaries who were undergoing acclimating fever, Hannah also began to preach on Sundays when George Thompson was away." (p. 57)
Thompson and Moore saw eye-to-eye, but unfortunately that cannot be said of Thompson's superiors or the new doctor assigned to the mission, David Lee. Lee and his wife arrived in 1855. They recommended the Mission change locations as it was currently situated next to a swamp. Despite Moore having advocated the same idea the year previous, she was quite upset that the AMA listened to Dr. Lee but not to her. Personality clashes between Rev. Thompson and Dr. Lee deepened divides, finally resulting in the former returning to America in 1856. Hannah Moore accompanied her good friend. She spent the next year recovering in Connecticut and visiting relatives.
Most people, after almost twenty years spent in mission service, would probably retire to comfortable living. But not Hannah Moore. In 1857 she enrolled at Oberlin College in order to take medical courses, spending the next two years educating herself more while living with George Thompson and his family. She still felt called to mission service; this time in Kentucky. With childlike faith she started out on her journey, trusting that God would lead her to the right place at the right time. In Harrodsburg she found an innkeeper who was searching for a teacher to serve as the principal of a female seminary. Moore accepted the position and intended to complete the two-year stint. However, her loud-and-proud anti-slavery beliefs did not court her any friends. Circulating reading material to her pupils that was friendly to the slaves' cause, Moore found, was grounds for threats to be thrown into prison. The execution of John Brown in 1859 made abolitionists even more unwelcome in the South. Accordingly, Hannah left Kentucky and settled for a time in the northern state of Ohio, then traveled back to her home in New England.
"At a time when women were expected to keep their opinions to themselves, Hannah's views could not have been popular among her contemporaries, but that did not deter her either then or later." (p. 80)
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During the beginning of the American Civil War, Moore attended a presentation by the minister Stephen Haskell. Haskell was of the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination, a group whose roots had first sprung up in New England about twenty years prior and now was headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan. One of the unique practices of the denomination was their adherence to keeping Saturday as a rest day, or Sabbath. From all appearances, Moore enjoyed Haskell's presentation and the literature he gave her on his peculiar beliefs.
She felt compelled to sail back to Africa and resume missionary work there. No longer supported by the AMA, she answered a call to teach at the Hoffman Mission School in Liberia on her own dime. Haskell established correspondence with Moore, sending her periodicals and literature explaining his Bible teachings. Between the printed material sent her and her own intense study of Scriptures, Moore became convinced that Saturday is the Sabbath.
"The fact that the Adventists celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday was only one aspect of what attracted Hannah to this new religious group. Seventh-Day Adventists, from their earliest days, actively sought freedom for all and worked toward abolition of slavery as well as roles for women in the church, and they fostered a strong opposition to formalized church creeds. Freedom was also emphasized through an orientation toward temperance and health reform. Proper care of the physical body would yield a clear mind with which to perceive scriptural truths. These were clearly ideas that appealed to Hannah and set her apart from her Congregational brethren who, at the time, were much more restrictive in their beliefs, especially concerning the submissive role of women in the church." (p. 82)
Moore wrote a letter into the denominations' flagship journal, the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, in 1864. In it she yearned for more souls to be won to Christ and for greater harmony between those already in various Christian denominations.
Around the time that Grant was beginning to force Lee into submission and eventual surrender, Moore took an opportunity to teach once again in Sierra Leone, albeit at a different mission. Within a few months she was managing an orphanage in Freetown. However, her days in Africa were quickly coming to a close as both her health deteriorated and her views increasingly conflicted with those of her superiors. As Moore penned for the Review,
"Those who deemed His coming near
Saying Christ would soon appear,
Have been wild fanatics called,
Scorned and mocked by great and small." (p. 83)
Spring 1866 found Moore, for the final time, back in New England. She spent time with both her birth family and new church family. Despite pushback from her friends and family, Moore did her best to politely and winsomely defend her new religious beliefs. Enjoying the company of Adventists and wishing to find a home among those who shared her beliefs, Moore made a trip west via train to the Adventists' headquarters in Michigan in July 1867. Unfortunately, while the brethren allowed the veteran missionary lodge in their home for a few days at a time, a collective cold shoulder prevailed and none offered Moore permanent employment or lodging. Some records indicate that Moore was not the owner of the most fashionable clothes or the most beautiful body, most likely due to her habits of economy and the battering of foreign mission work.
Not finding the warm welcome she yearned for, Moore contacted her old friend George Thompson, who was living in northern Michigan at the time. He and his wife Martha provided lodging, but not the Christian fellowship that Moore so dearly desired. They permitted her to keep her Sabbath but refused to cease worldly activities themselves in deference to their friend. Accordingly, Moore felt the only appropriate way to keep her Sabbath was by herself in her windowless attic. The harsh change of temperatures with the seasons wreaked havoc on the dear old saint's body, and she passed away in March, 1868.
Ellen White, a founding mother of Adventism and missionary herself, happened to be away from Battle Creek when Moore came knocking. Livid at her church's cold shoulder, White invited Moore to stay with her and her family come spring. Moore lived long enough to exchange several letters with the Whites, but unfortunately died before being able to make the journey south.
I sense that Moore died of a broken heart just as much as of a broken body.
* * *
I find the story of Hannah Moore riveting in its own right: the story of an opinionated single woman who spent her life as a missionary to Oklahoma and Africa in the nineteenth century is novel and intriguing. It's a story that - from my recollection - is far out of the ordinary tales told of this time period in history textbooks. What I find ironic, though, is that despite my being a life-long member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, I had never heard of Hannah Moore before. The denomination's flagship university (and my alma mater) is named after John Andrews, the first Adventist foreign missionary who sailed to Switzerland with his children in 1874. Certainly, the recognition that is given Andrews is well-earned and I do not wish to diminish the appreciation of his contributions to the early Adventist church. Andrews was the first foreign missionary specifically sent by the Church. But eight years prior to Andrews sailing to Europe, there was a Seventh-Day Adventist missionary by the name of Hannah Moore in Liberia. I think it's a both/and situation: our intuition about Adventism's early forays into foreign missions is not completely incorrect; it's just incomplete.
What I find haunting about Moore's story is how unwelcoming the Adventists were in Battle Creek. After Moore's passing, White admonished her church:
"She being dead yet speaketh. Her letters, which I have given, will be read with deep interest by those who have read her obituary in a recent number of the Review. She might have been a blessing to any Sabbathkeeping family who could appreciate her worth, but she sleeps. Our brethren at Battle Creek and in this vicinity could have made more than a welcome home for Jesus, in the person of this godly woman. But that opportunity is past. It was not convenient. They were not acquainted with her. She was advanced in years and might be a burden. Feelings of this kind barred her from the homes of the professed friends of Jesus, who are looking for His near advent, and drove her away from those she loved, to those who opposed her faith, to northern Michigan, in the cold of winter, to be chilled to death. She died a martyr to the selfishness and covetousness of professed commandment keepers.
Providence has administered, in this case, a terrible rebuke for the conduct of those who did not take this stranger in. She was not really a stranger. By reputation she was known, and yet she was not taken in. Many will feel sad as they think of Sister More as she stood in Battle Creek, begging a home there with the people of her choice. And as they, in imagination, follow her to Chicago, to borrow money to meet the expenses of the journey to her final resting place,—and when they think of that grave in Leelenaw County, where rests this precious outcast,—God pity those who are guilty in her case." (1)
White, who was believed to receive genuine visions from God, later penned:
"In the case of Sister Hannah More, I was shown that the neglect of her was the neglect of Jesus in her person. Had the Son of God come in the humble, unpretending manner in which He journeyed from place to place when He was upon earth, He would have met with no better reception. It is the deep principle of love that dwelt in the bosom of the humble Man of Calvary that is needed.
Many look upon the great work to be accomplished for God's people, and their prayers go up to Him for help in the great harvest. But, if help does not come in just the manner they expect, they will not receive it, but turn from it as the Jewish nation turned from Christ because disappointed in the manner of His appearing. Too much poverty and humility marked His advent, and in their pride they refused Him who came to give them life...The light of Sister Hannah More has gone out, whereas it might now be burning brightly to illuminate the pathway of many who are walking in the dark paths of error and rebellion. God calls upon the church to arouse from their slumber..."
Though almost two decades younger than Moore, I can imagine that White closely identified with Moore due to the great number of their shared experiences and lifestyles. For starters, both grew up in New England. White was born on November 26, 1827 in Gorham, Maine - approximately a dozen miles west of Portland - as Ellen Gould Harmon. Growing up in a devout Methodist family, she embraced William Miller's preaching that Christ would return to Earth in 1844. It appears that Moore, serving at the Dwight Mission during this time period, was impressed with traveling Millerite teacher Cable Coval who visited her outpost. While Ellen did marry preacher/printer James White in 1846, the newlyweds had a similar passion for saving souls and practicing economy as the single Moore did. The Whites traveled all over New England engaged in mission work until they moved to Battle Creek in 1857, which precipitated a focus on their Midwest labors. After James' death in 1881, Ellen White served two years as a missionary in Europe and nine years in Australia. Consecrated mission service to God was a hallmark in the lives of both White and Moore.
As the Adventist Church prepared to send Andrews to Switzerland, White pined
"Oh, how much we need our Hannah More to aid us at this time in reaching other nations! Her extensive knowledge of missionary fields would give us access to those of other tongues whom we cannot now approach. God brought this gift among us to meet our present emergency; but we prized not the gift, and He took her from us. She is at rest from her labors, but her self-denying works follow her. It is to be deplored that our missionary work should be retarded for the want of knowledge how to gain access to the different nations and localities in the great harvest field." (3)
* * *
But of course, we as Adventists or Americans today wouldn't treat marginalized or discriminated groups of people in the same way as those high-and-mighty residents of Battle Creek did, right? Riiiiiggghhhttt. Is it really wise to solely spend time with those who look like us, think like us, or believe like us? One of my greatest fears, as I have observed both Adventist and American society over the past few years, is that we are increasingly focused on non-essential matters that honestly threaten to extinguish the existence of both church and country. My heart is torn when I see the breakdown of civil debate and discourse in lieu of screaming, blaming, and a "me vs. you" mentality. Now, I am not saying that all of Adventism or all of America is like this; far from it. Gratefulness swells in my chest as I see those in my church and country who promote unity, inclusion, and focus on the things that really matter. But the negatives still concern me. Are we getting so bogged down in the trees that we don't see the greater forest of sharing the love of Christ to everyone on this planet? Or spreading liberty and justice for ALL from sea to shining sea? These are topics that deserve, indeed demand, our attention. No one is an exception from this struggle. Will we use our individual and collective influence to accomplish these truly noble objectives?
I honestly think the first step is to listen. To have raw and real conversations with those that may differ from us on matters that concern all of us. I am immensely grateful to the interpreters at Old Sturbridge Village who - from my personal experience - do an excellent job at fostering these open and honest conversations about where we've been, where we are, and where we're going as a country. If you have the opportunity to visit in person, do it. If not, go visit a history museum or historical site near where you live. You won't regret it. Within the Seventh-Day Adventist community, I am incredibly grateful that a young woman by the name of Melissa Schiffbauer (@unmistakablymelissa on Instagram) provides a platform to have these sorts of conversations. I highly recommend her content.
I hope this article has been both informative and inspiring to you. I hope that the story of Hannah Moore has caused you - like it has for me - to ask yourself: How can I care a little better for those who live around me and are in need?
I want to leave you with some passages of Scripture that have come to my mind as I have written this article. I pray and hope that we are not so focused only on ourselves that we forget to care for others as the Lord impresses us.
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27, NKJV)
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." (Hebrews 13:2, NKJV)
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV)
"And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’" (Matthew 25:40, NKJV)
"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." (Romans 15:4, NIV)
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Hey there! Thanks so much for taking the time to read this far down in my article. I really appreciate it! I am currently trying to grow my email list. Thank you so much to the three new readers who signed up when I published my last post! I would like to see if I can get two new readers to sign up, so my list will officially hit double digits. :D If you would like to be notified when my future posts go live, please enter your email in the subscription box below.
Unless otherwise noted, page numbers refer to Hannah Moore: a biography of a nineteenth century missionary and teacher by Isabel Weigold.
(1): Testimonies for the Church, Volume 1, p. 674
(2): Testimonies for the Church, Volume 2, p. 140-142
(3): Testimonies for the Church, Volume 3, p. 407
On Old Sturbridge Village:
Be sure to check out their website and YouTube channels -
Adventist Heritage Tour: Old Sturbridge Village - back in my college days I made a video of Old Sturbridge Village. It's a little dorky, but still a fun watch!
On Hannah Moore:
Foot Soldier of the Empire: Hannah More and the Politics of Service - Bill Knott's Ph.D. dissertation. A great resource if you really want to go in detail. I have access through my university; you may have access through a library or university you are a part of.
Story of Hannah Moore (3ABN) - an excellent presentation by Bill Knott on Hannah Moore. Complete with great illustrations (and picture of Moore herself). Click on "OTR000975.wmv" to download and watch.
On Dwight Mission & the Cherokees:
Mission to the Cherokees: the story of Dwight Mission, the first mission established west of the Mississippi River to serve the Cherokee Indians by O. B. Campbell (Amazon) - an oldie but goodie that I procured through interlibrary loan. A great primer on Washburn, Hitchcock, and the history of the Mission overall. An absolutely riveting tale if you are interested in the Trail of Tears, westward expansion, or the Second Great Awakening.
I found the story of Dwight Mission quite interesting as the ABCFM also ran the Brainerd Mission in Chattanooga and supported Rev. Samuel Worcester at New Echota, the Cherokee capital in Georgia (both locations near where I grew up). You can find my videos about the Brainerd Mission and Samuel Worcester here:
On the Amistad & Kaw-Mendi Mission:
The Amistad Saga: A Transatlantic Dialogue - a great scholarly paper
Thompson in Africa - a great autobiography from George Thompson of his time in Africa prior to Moore's arrival. Free on Google Books.
Ellen White's writings about Hannah Moore:
I'm a big fan of studying Ellen White in historical context. Two fantastic books in this genre are the following:
Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet edited by Terrie Dopp Aamodt, Gary Land, and Ronald Numbers (Amazon). Each chapter analyzes White in a different aspect or role: prophet, author, or speaker, for example. Chapters that particularly interested me were on science and medicine, society, culture, and slavery.
A Nation in God's Hands by Jud Lake (Amazon). White had several visions regarding the Civil War; specifically the First Battle of Bull Run. Lake does a fantastic job of discussing White in the greater American historical context of the time, her specific Civil War visions, and how one might interpret the rest of Civil War battles from White's perspective.
The Encyclopedia of Seventh-Day Adventists is a fantastic & free online resource to learn more about different aspects of and figures in the denomination's history. Articles I referenced in writing my article:
Historic Adventist Village - a lovely history museum in Battle Creek, Michigan that preserves original and replica buildings pertaining to Adventist history. There's also a nice visitor center about the Kellogg brothers and their contributions to both the health and cereal industries.
A Bible & A Girl - Melissa Schiffbauer's website with links to her social media accounts and content.
Historical photos used in this post are either in the public domain or are used with permission. Modern-day photos are my own work; all rights reserved.