The Gospel According to Abbie Jane Wells

“The Gospel According to Abbie Jane Wells” Friends of Abbie Jane Wells in Juneau succeeded in getting some of her writings published.  Abbie Jane was a very unique person. She wrote out articles and some of her thoughts in long-hand and then sent them to some of her friends and correspondents.  At one point in time I had an apple box full of material she had written or copied and sent to me on a regular basis. She was not bashful about challenging the “powers and principalities” and she affirmed those with whom she agreed.  Perhaps the best way is to share some thoughts of those who wrote about her.

TRIBUTE by Virginia Breeze dated 3/28/91  “Remembering Abbie Jane Wells”

“In the evenings when all the rest of us were going to bed, Abbie Jane Wells would begin copying. Sitting at her kitchen table, she would gather her materials together – primarily articles and poems but also letters she had received from other people – and in longhand, using a red ballpoint pen (with carbons inserted between sheet of tablet paper so that she could produce more than one copy) she would write all night and into the morning. “When the mailman came she was ready with a bundle of envelopes. Every day she was ready with envelopes, for copying the comments of others who wrote about matters she herself found meaningful and thoughtful, and then passing this information along to people on her “list” was Abbie Jane’s vocation… “Daniel Berrigan was perhaps the most famous of Abbie Jane’s pen pals. The activist Catholic priest…became family to Abbie Jane…There were others, too… “In 1980 Daniel Berrigan spoke in Juneau, an event that became a highlight in Abbie Jane’s life because she was finally able to meet him and to exchange with him the thoughts and ideas they had shared on paper. He gave her a large silver cross and she wore it every single day thereafter. Causes that concerned him and involved him she took up afterward with increased passion….

(Personal note: I was a pastor in Nome at this time and sadly was not able to be in Juneau for this visit of Daniel Berrigan, but I did mention the event in the worship bulletin, just in case any of my members or attenders might be in Juneau on that day. Nome was 1,000 air miles from Juneau.  Just before the benediction, one of my members stood up and said that he was offended that this announcement was in the bulletin. He felt that Daniel Berrigan should be in prison.  (He often was.) When he was finished a young adult male stood up and said that he was offended by these negative comments. He affirmed that Daniel Berrigan was a personal hero to him and to many of his generation. I shared a benediction and one of the women in the church, who obviously loved conflict, said: “We ought to do this more often.”  We didn’t.)

“When Abbie Jane wasn’t copying the words of others, she wrote homilies, most often thoughts with spiritual overtones. They often began, “What if Jesus had…” and she’d go on to suggest in her own homespun style new conclusions to biblical stories. ..In 1985 these homilies became a hardback book called “The Gospel According to Abbie Jane Wells.”

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