Serena Lake

Serena Lake (1842 – 1902) evangelist and suffragist
Because she believed sexual equality to be ‘the original design of the Creator’, Mrs Lake supported women’s suffrage and in July 1888, having seconded the motion founding the South Australian Women’s Suffrage League, was elected to its council. She combined logical argument, wit and evangelical passion, sharing platforms with suffrage leaders, including Mary Lee.

In 1865 Serena Lake accompanied her brother to Queensland and established a mission, at the English Bible Christian Conference’s request. Invited to Melbourne next year, she gave valuable assistance evangelizing there and throughout Victoria: she regularly preached three Sunday sermons.

In 1870 South Australian Bible Christians, including the lawyer (Sir) Samuel Way and medical practitioner Allan Campbell invited Miss Thorne to Adelaide. On 22 May, at the first of her thirteen, crowded, Town Hall Sunday services, over 2000 listened to her sermon ‘with breathless attention’; hundreds were turned away. She preached, too, in suburban churches and in the country. On night visits to Adelaide prostitutes, she influenced some ‘poor fallen sisters’ to enter the Female Refuge.

Serena’s life changed at country Auburn when a former Shebbear admirer, the Bible Christian minister Octavius Lake, proposed marriage. Torn between love and duty, she finally accepted when he vowed approval of female preachers: they married in Way’s house on 2 March 1871.

Because she believed sexual equality to be ‘the original design of the Creator’, Mrs Lake supported women’s suffrage and in July 1888, having seconded the motion founding the South Australian Women’s Suffrage League, was elected to its council. She combined logical argument, wit and evangelical passion, sharing platforms with suffrage leaders, including Mary Lee. (Mary Lee – https://atributetoaustralianchristians.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/mary-lee/)

In August 1889 Mrs Lake was appointed ‘colonial organiser and suffrage superintendent’ of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and shaped the union’s commitment to women’s suffrage. Living at Kapunda and later Gladstone, she drove her buggy long distances across country, and travelled by train to Broken Hill, New South Wales, opening some thirty-eight new local unions in the country and Adelaide, gaining hundreds of members, male associates and suffrage petition signatures.

In May 1892 Serena eloquently moved adoption of the suffrage league’s annual report. Subsequently, however, she apparently devoted herself to evangelical and humanitarian causes. In June 1891, in step with the ‘forward movement’ to win poor city-dwellers ‘for Christ’, she had been mainly responsible for initiating the Bible Christian Woman’s Missionary Board, of which she was foundation president, and from October 1892 superintendent of evangelists. Following an operation for cancer, she died of peritonitis on 9 July 1902 in Adelaide Hospital and was buried in Payneham cemetery. Her husband and daughter survived her.

Complete article : http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/AS10279b.htm

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In 1865 the church sent Serena Lake to Queensland to help establish Bible Christianity and in 1870 she moved first to Victoria and South Australia soon after. She received a warm welcome in South Australia and preached at churches in Adelaide and country areas. In March 1871 she married Octavius Lake whom she had known in Devon and they worked together to further Bible Christianity in South Australia. They had seven children of whom only one survived.

Serena Lake attended the foundation meeting of the South Australian Women’s Suffrage League and was appointed to the Council. She was almost certainly a member of the Social Purity Society as she was familiar with the background of the League’s foundation. In 1889 the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) appointed her to the dual positions of Colonial organizer and Suffrage superintendent.

In 1891 she was made a life vice-president of the WCTU. At the 1892 annual South Australian Women’s Suffrage League meeting she spoke eloquently in support of Mary Lee’s report, seconded by Catherine Helen Spence. After this, however, she did not appear again in either the League or WCTU records and when suffrage was won the Lakes were at Moonta in country South Australia carrying on their missionary and pastoral work. She died in 1902 aged 60.

Complete article : http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0899b.htm

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In 1891 Serena Lake founded the Bible Christian Women’s Missionary Board to support missionary work in China. A similar body was formed in the Wesleyan Church in 1893 under the presidency of Mary Colton. Together these were the precursors of the Methodist Women’s Auxiliary for Foreign (later Overseas) Missions – WAFM. This body supported missionary work in the north of Australia, in the Pacific, and in India. It was an autonomous body run by women, with women in the leadership positions. WAFM had a network of branches throughout the circuits of the Methodist Church, across South Australia. Next to the Anglican Mothers’ Union, it was the largest church women’s organisation in South Australia.

Complete article : http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?c=1737

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