Black History Month: 8 influential African-American Christian leaders

Jarena Lee

Jarena Lee
An 1849 picture of Jarena Lee (1783-circa 1855), the first official female preacher for the African Methodist Episcopal Church. |

The Rev. Jarena Lee was the first official female preacher of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, being granted a license by Bishop Richard Allen, the denomination’s founder.

Born Feb. 11, 1783, in Cape May, New Jersey, to free black parents, Lee was baptized in 1807 into the AME Church and given authorization to preach in 1819.

“Reverend Lee was a true itinerant evangelist,” explained the AME Church’s Social Action Commission. “She proclaimed the Gospel extensively throughout the Northeastern United States and Canada, traveling more than 2,800 by foot preaching more than 692 sermons.”

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