Lee, Jarena

Jarena Lee (1783-185?)

Born in Cape May, New Jersey, Jarena Lee was a 19th-century evangelist and itinerant preacher.  Her early years were spent working as a domestic servant. She converted to Christianity at the age of 21 and received a call to preach. When her request for approval to preach was denied by the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1809, she married an AME minister. Following her husband’s death, Lee renewed her request to preach. Reverend Richard Allen, the bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, granted her approval to preach. Lee became a traveling evangelist and visited churches, camp meetings, schoolhouses, and private homes across the Northeast.  Lee described her conversion, travels, and other experiences in her autobiography The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee … (1836), which she revised and updated in 1849 as Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee …

by Aslaku Berhanu


Andrews, William L. (Ed.).  Sisters of the Spirit: Three Black Women’s Autobiographies of the Nineteenth Century. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.