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August 15

Harriet Teal

Harriet Z. Teal, who served the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Colorado with extraordinary zeal, received her Heavenly reward on this day in 1968 at age 83. Born in Pennsylvania on November 15, 1884, Miss Teal’s mother died when she was seven. Her father took her out of school when she was 16 to care for him and her two aunts, all of whom had health problems. A Quaker, she attended a dispensationalist Bible Testimony Church where she was led to the Reformed faith at the same time as her pastor, W. Benson Male, then a student at Westminster Theological Seminary. When he graduated in 1938 and returned to his home state of Colorado, Miss Teal followed (her own family members had died by this time). Rev. Male became pastor of what would become Park Hill OPC in Denver, where Miss Teal lead many vacation Bible schools, Bible clubs, and Sunday schools for children and women of several racial backgrounds.

During World War II, Miss Teal assisted OP missionary Clarence Duff with a mission work in the coal mining town of Oak Creek. When he returned to Africa after the war, the Home Missions Committee approved allowing Miss Teal take over the work, which was more than 200 miles from her home. Less than five feet tall, the diminutive Miss Teal left Denver on Friday nights and arrived by train at 5 a.m. Saturday morning, then often trudged through snow to visit families. She held a 2 p.m. Sunday school class, then returned by overnight train to Denver. If the train was late, she had a nine-hour wait for the bus. She later added a women’s Bible study on Monday afternoons. After five years, she was forced to discontinue the work due to health problems.

With limited schooling, Miss Teal was educated primarily by reading the King James Bible and books, such as her favorite works of Charles Dickens. She wrote children’s stories and mission reports for the Presbyterian Guardian. Miss Teal devoted her life to teaching children and adults in the church and praying long hours for the children she taught and for the OPC’s home and foreign missionaries. She remained close to the Males and their seven children, at times living with the family, until she was called Home.

Picture: back row and standing: Dee Male, Rev. Ben Male, Miss Harriet Teal, Mary (Wynja), David Male. Front row: Elizabeth (Van Abbema), Ruth (Calvert) , Susan (Lodge), and Dorothy (Christoffels).

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