December 20, 2009 - Elizabeth Fedde

Elizabeth Fedde (1850-1921) was born near Flekkefjord, Norway, on Christmas Day.  She trained as a deaconess at the Lovisenberg Deaconess House under Katinka Guldberg, a deaconess who had trained at Fliedner’s Motherhouse Kaiserswerth. 

After about four years in Troms, where she worked in a hospital with the most basic and meager equipment, Elizabeth returned home and was met by a new challenge.  She received a letter from her brother-in-law, Gabriel Fedde, begging her to join them in the United States to establish a ministry that would assist the less fortunate Norwegian immigrants in both their spiritual and temporal needs.   In particular, she was to help the Norwegian seamen in New York City.

Sister Elizabeth accepted the challenge and founded the Norwegian Relief Society.  She spent many hours visiting the sick and destitute, and kept a brief but telling journal about her daily ministrations to the needy.  In 1885, she opened a Deaconess House for the training of other women to assist and follow her in her ministry of mercy. This House eventually became the Lutheran Medical Center of Brooklyn. 

Elizabeth was well known in the United States during her time of service.  In 1885, William Alfred Passavant invited her to move to Pittsburgh to take charge of his hospital.  But Elizabeth decided she still had other work to do!  In 1888, she agreed to go to Minneapolis for a few years, where she established the Lutheran Deaconess Home and Hospital of the Lutheran Free Church and helped make plans for an additional hospital in Chicago.

In 1895, after many years of faithful service to the poor, ill, and lonely of the United States, Elizabeth was tired and returned to Norway, where she married Ola Sletteb, a gentleman who loved and waited for her during the entire time that she was in America.  Throughout her life, Elizabeth provided an inspiring example of a woman who showed that she loved her Lord and her fellow countrymen, wherever they were and whatever they needed.  May we be emboldened in our own work by such an attitude and example!


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