*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 17th of June 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
There is a long tradition in the church of women, often wealthy and sometimes widows, who have played an outsized role in supporting the church.
Consider the women who were ministered to, and then ministered to Jesus. The New Testament epistles give us the likes of Priscilla and Phoebe and Lydia. The early church is replete with women, we have talked on this show about the crucial role of Paula the patron of St. Jerome.
Closer to our own time we have such women as Lady Mary Armine who spent her fortune evangelizing native Americans, Sally Thomas gave the first major gift to the American Board of Foreign Missions. We could also name Harriet Beecher Stowe and Julia Ward Howe. We could add the Grimke sisters, Isabella Graham, Lottie Moon, Francis Willard, the catholic Elizabeth Anne Seton and more… it is no small nor insignificant group and today I’d like to introduce you to another one of the club: Selina Hastings the Countess of Huntingdon who died on this, the 17th of June in 1791.
Born in 1707 her life would span almost the entire century and she would find her life wholly engulfed in the 1st Great Awakening in England and Wales. Hastings was born Selina Shirley, daughter to an Earl. At the age of 21, she was engaged to an Earl who happened to have a sister that promoted Evangelical causes.
Selina’s Husband, Theophilus Hastings the 9th Earl Of Huntingdon died young and this left Selina and her sister-in-law to pursue philanthropic and evangelistic work. Let’s break down 5 things you would know about the woman they called “Lady Bountiful” for her extensive work and support of the evangelical cause.
1. Selina Hastings first came to know of the movement through her sister-in-law who introduced her to the preaching of George Whitfield. Selina would join the Methodist meetings of John and Charles Wesley.
2. Hastings would sour on the Arminianism of the Wesley’s but not their evangelical zeal- she would form “The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion” which, despite sounding like a young adult ministry at a 90’s megachurch the “Connexion” was her association of Calvinistic Methodists across England and Wales. She was called “the elect lady” which is a sort-of on-the-nose name for a Calvinist.
3. Her status as a “peer” (a kind of hereditary noble) she was allowed to appoint chaplains. One of her appointed Chaplains was George Whitfield and the Countess would appoint many more. She would also pay for the building of over 60 chapels.
4. Before her death she established the Trevecca House in Talgarth, this was a “dissenting” Academy for those Methodists that would have been removed from or barred from attending Oxford and Cambridge.
5. And lastly, the amount of information we have about the Countess is remarkably scant, and this was part of her design. She implored that no one writes a biography of her, that her papers not be made public, and that her legacy simply is the legacy of the Gospel in England, Wales, and beyond.
Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon- the “elect lady”, “lady Bountiful”, and a singular driving force behind the 1st Great Awakening. Born in 1707 she died on the 17th of June in 1791 at the age of 84.
The last word for today is a salutation that can be repurposed as a benediction from the 2nd Epistle of John.
The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:
Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 17th of June 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man whose favorite Countesses include Lady Huntingdon, Elizabeth the Blood Countess of Transylvania, and whoever is married to Count Chocula, Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a connoisseur of chocolate cereal, I am Dan van Voorhis
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.