SARAH EMILY WALDO YORK (1819 - 1851)
Sarah Emily Waldo York, the daughter of an American naval officer who lost his leg during the War of 1812, attended the female seminary in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Following her father’s death, she taught both in a private school in Boston and in a Baptist Sunday school there. In 1844, the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions agreed to support her as a missionary in Greece. Arriving in Corfu in 1844, she commenced work at a school for children. In 1848, she moved to Zante, where she married Mr. J. York, a native of Corfu, who had been converted by the mission’s efforts.
The missionaries sought to convert the Greeks, even though they were already Christians. Accordingly, Mrs. York refused to marry Mr. York until he had renounced the Greek Orthodox Church. The following is an excerpt of a letter she sent to him before their engagement:
“Yet while from my inmost heart I bless God for what he has wrought in your soul, and while I feel that to be united by living faith to the same Saviour, is infinitely more important than to belong to the same communion, I dare not say this is enough. I do not mean to say that there can be no conjugal happiness without a perfect coincidence of sentiment. On the contrary I agree with you that this is very difficult, if not impossible. I can easily imagine a case of as perfect happiness as is admissible in this imperfect world, where the parties concerned are of different denominations. A Wesleyan for instance might marry a Presbyterian or an Independent, and feel that he only stepped within the pale of a sister church, whose members on all essential points were of his own faith. But I could never regard the Greek as a sister church, but as a lapsed communion, which has shut herself out of the sisterhood of Evangelical churches, by the adoption of most fatal errors.” (p. 341)