Tag Archives: testimony

Testify! A glimpse inside the world of ‘holiness testimony,’ through the story of Amanda Berry Smith


Back in 2004 I had the privilege of editing an issue of Christian History & Biography on the topic of the holiness movement. That issue triggered an e-newsletter on the life and testimony of Amanda Berry Smith (subject of my upcoming Emergent Cohort talk–see the previous post for details):

Since the holiness movement was the focus of my graduate studies, and since the current issue of Christian History & Biography is on this topic—Issue 82: Phoebe Palmer and the Holiness Movement—I can’t resist introducing you to a woman who, I think you’ll agree, was one of that movement’s most fascinating figures.

This is the self-described “washerwoman evangelist,” the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) preacher, singer, missionary, and orphans’ home founder Amanda Berry Smith (1837-1915).

We meet Amanda Smith briefly in this week’s featured online article from Issue 82: “I received my commission from Him, brother,” the story of women holiness leaders, written by my friend and fellow Duke graduate student Jennifer Woodruff Tait. But there’s more to Smith’s story:

Born a slave, Amanda Berry Smith was educated mainly at home and was employed for the early years of her life as a domestic worker. She endured two unhappy marriages but found “the joy of the Lord” in 1868 in a classic Wesleyan sanctification experience. Not content to sit still with her experience, she launched out the following year (her second husband and children had died by this time) as a traveling preacher to black churches in New York and New Jersey. Continue reading