Sister Betsy's Visit

November 01, 2002 | Joy Swift

Members of the Hamilton, Mont., Adventist Church recently enjoyed a surprise visit from the past, when “Sister Betsy” came to share a bit of Adventist history.

While a few oldsters in the congregation may have met “Sister Betsy” as children, most in the audience had never heard of her.

Interviewed by Pastor Barry Curtis, “Sister Betsy” announced that she was born in 1859.

At age 143, how was her health, the pastor inquired.

“There have been times and places in our church’s history that I have been weak and ill,” she said, “even to the point of death. But other times I’ve been strong and healthy. Fit as a fiddle!”

She then explained that early in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, missionary pioneers like J.N. Andrews and John Loughborough had to give up the ministry because they could no longer provide for their families while doing the Lord’s work full time. Not wanting to lose these ministers, Church leaders called on “Sister Betsy” (originally known as “Systematic Benevolence”) to help.

Men were asked to contribute five to 25 cents per week; women two to 10 cents, and one to five cents for each $100 in property they owned.

These small donations provided all the needs of the Adventist cause and even sent missionaries out West.

Systematic Benevolence means making a plan for giving and sticking to it, said “Sister Betsy.”

“The Church doesn’t exist because of large gifts. It’s all of us doing a part to bear the burden of God’s work in a systematic way,” she said.

Members noticed that “Sister Betsy” bore a strong resemblance to local member Deanna Harris and that Harris missed the entire interview, as she was called out of the sanctuary just before “Sister Betsy’s” introduction. •