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Haskin, Sara Estelle

Leader in Settlement Work

When the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS), began its foray into settlement work at the turn of the twentieth century, it asked Sara Estelle Haskin to take up the post in Dallas. With no equipment and no real pattern to follow, she plunged into the work and began a very successful ministry. Her goal was to be a neighbor to those around her in the neglected areas of the city where she settled. She started three settlement houses that provided much-needed services for the area. Afterward, she moved to Nashville, where she worked with Mrs. Sallie Hill, an African-American woman, to start another center to serve the neighborhood. Eventually, her success in such endeavors led her to a position as secretary of literature of the Woman’s Missionary Council, located in Louisville. Biography was important to her, so she used many sketches of persons of faith in the literature she published.

With unification came a new position and title for her. She was elected editor of World Outlook. Reluctantly, for she dreaded the thought of living and working in New York, she went to the city to attend her first executive committee meeting and find a place to live. She accomplished both, giving a report full of hope for the new church at the committee meeting. After the meeting she drove with a friend to the hotel where she was staying. On the way, she was seized with pain and died shortly after she reached her hotel room.

The new church had barely begun life when hers ended, but eight years later, coworkers were still praising the vision she had brought to the union and the influence of her vision, which had persisted long after she died. Haskin was noted for her dedication to the Christianization of social relationships as well as the development of personal mystical relation to the soul of God. She was a crusader for race relations and gave leadership to considerations of labor laws and other concerns when these were issues being discussed by only a handful in the church. She was also remembered as a campaigner for the laity and clergy rights of women.

Her work increased the communication between women of the MEC and MECS churches long before they became officially one church. In this way, she was truly a founding spirit of the new denomination, even though her physical life was at its end.

Taken from Linda Gesling, Mirror and Beacon: The History of Mission of The Methodist Church, 1939-1968. (New York: General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, 2005), p. 29.

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