|Sketch of the A.M.E. Church in Schenectady from the |
April 25, 1908 issue of the Daily Gazette.
|Julia A.J. Foote as shown |
in her autobiography.
Many of the chapters in Julia’s autobiography act as a parable that relates back to her faith and spiritual beliefs. Chapter six tells the story of the hanging of her teacher, her reaction to it, and how it formed her beliefs. When Julia was ten, she was sent to live with the Prime family in Glenville who sent her to be taught by John Van Patten in Rotterdam. She was a quick study in reading and writing due to her “great anxiety to read the Testament.” However, she wasn't able to be taught by Mr. Van Patten for very long. Mr. Van Patten shot and killed a paramour who insulted him and was hung for his crimes. Julia witnessed the hanging and it shook her, “The remembrance of this scene left such an impression upon my mind that I could not sleep for many a night.” The hanging of her former teacher formed her belief that the taking of any life, even “a life for a life, as many believe God commands,” was a horrible, barbarous thing.
Her family eventually moved to Albany to join the A.M.E. Zion Church where her faith was reignited. She married George Foote at the age of eighteen and moved to Boston. In Boston, she was dedicated to informal evangelizing in her community. Foote believed that she had been sanctified by the Holy Spirit and was destined to become a preacher. This was a highly controversial belief that challenged Christian tradition, as well as many American beliefs. Her mother, husband, and minister of her church all disapproved of Julia’s public preaching. Not even the lack of higher support from higher church authorities could sway Julia from preaching, and she began an independent preaching career.
"When Paul said, ‘Help those women who labor with me in the Gospel,’ he certainly meant that they did more than to pour out tea!”- Julia A. J. Foote
Julia traveled throughout upstate New York with other A.M.E. ministers and worked her way west to Ohio and Michigan, often attracting crowds of thousands of both white and black Americans. Her sermons would often focus on the evils of racism and sexism. She was the first woman ordained as a deacon in 1894 and was the second to hold the office of elder in the A.M.E. denomination in 1900. Julia died on November 22, 1901 and was buried in the Cypress Hill Cemetery in Brooklyn.