Julia A. J. Foote (1823-1900), the daughter of former slaves, was born in Schenectady, New York. Her parents were devout Christians, and she embraced their faith at an early age, joining the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church when she was fifteen years old, by which time she was living in Albany with her adopted family.
Marriage in 1841 to a seafarer, George Foote, took eighteen-year-old Julia to Boston, where she joined this city’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion church. Julia Foote’s ever-increasing hunger for knowledge of the Holy was applauded; however, her insistence that God had called her to preach put a strain on her relationships with those who believed it absolutely inappropriate and downright wrong for a woman to be a preacher. Julia’s parents did not support her call. Her husband did not support her call. Her pastor, Reverend Jeheiel C. Beman, not only did not think she should preach, but he also censured her for engaging in ministry in her home.
Convinced that she had to answer to a higher power, Foote persevered, finding pulpits, homes, revival camps and other venues where her gifts of the Spirit were welcomed. Julia A. Foote preached up a storm: early on in New York, New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, and later, in Michigan, Ohio and Canada. Eventually, she settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where in 1879, she published her autobiography: A Brand Plucked From the Fire.
We do not know how or where this evangelist spent the 1880s and early 1890s, but we know that in 1894 Julia A. Foote became the A.M.E. Zion Church’s first woman deacon. In 1900, shortly before her death, she became this denomination’s second ordained female elder.
The preceding excerpt can be found on the website of the Schomburg Library. You can also learn more about Rev. Julia A.J. Foote in “Daughters of Thunder: Black Women Preachers and Their Sermons, 1850-1979” by Dr. Bettye Collier-Thomas.
Please visit the My Faith and Fitness blog again on February 28 to discover another Black women preacher. Be blessed.