Biography Susan Duncan

November 2nd, 2022

The family history section is the same for all the Duncan sisters. Their individual stories are told after this section, but will also have to include shared experiences.

The Duncan family history is one of difficulties and trials. Reverend James Duncan was a Methodist pastor. His wife was a woman of great social ambition who never believed that her husband had a big enough parish or made enough money. Although there were seven children in the family, two boys and five girls, the children were treated as unwelcome burdens. Early on many of the family responsibilities were passed to the oldest girl Elizabeth who declared that she felt old almost the time of being a small child, because of the enormity of the responsibilities placed on her. The home was loveless and Mrs. Duncan kept the family in constant contention and emotional turmoil. After Reverend Duncan retired the contention was so bad that he left the home to move in with his son. When he needed to return for financial reasons, his wife would not even allow him to be in the same room with her. After seven years of this behavior, she abandoned the family altogether and told stories of her perceived mistreatment by her husband and children, so they were asked to leave their church and rejected by many of their former friends.

The girls had started the Faith Home and their father was a constant support. These were his happiest years. When he died the family begged their mother to return, but she continued to be bitter and she died two years after her husband, without seeing any of her children again.

Susan A. Duncan was born in September 1854 in New York. She felt a call from God while young. She attended a private school for girls and considered working as a missionary. God gave her Ezekial 3:5 to indicate that she was working within her borders. She studied art in New York City. Once she graduated she stayed there and gave painting lessons to earn her living. She heard the story of her sister’s healing. Upon returning to Rochester she struggled with healing as unpopular teaching. She desired to focus on evangelism. Upon hurting her hand one day she saw the Lord, in a vision, where He asked if she would trust Him for her healing. Her hand was healed that night. From that point on she was committed to believing that God still healed.

The sisters began to pray regularly and to seek God for providing for them by faith. God began to provide in small miraculous ways for the family. Then God began to speak to them about starting a Faith Home and Mission work. One night while they were praying with a little group a prophetic word came and the promise that God would provide a Home was made. He did all that He promised. Elizabeth, who was now separated from her husband, rejoined the family in 1894. The sisters felt called to open the Elim Faith Home in 1895.

In 1898-1899 God called Elizabeth to India. Susan carried on the work of running the Home, Church, and School. In 1901 they began publishing a journal called “Trust”. Susan Duncan was the editor of this journal for more than thirty years. About 1904 God asked them to create a church and Elim Tabernacle was born. In 1906 they founded the Rochester Training School for missions. The sisters sought God when they heard about the Pentecostal outpouring. They had a Pentecostal experience in 1907 in their June “Deeper Spiritual Life” convention. Susan’s niece Marguerite began to speak in tongues convincing her that this was nothing of man’s invention. People received visions, sang in the Spirit, fell under the power of God, and saw angels.

Duncan’s newly established school became a key training ground for new Pentecostal leaders. Over the life of the school over 400 missionaries were trained. Elizabeth, who had been the leader of the group unexpectedly died in 1915. Susan, Hattie, Mary, and Mary’s daughter Olivia continued the work, with even greater success as the Pentecostal outpouring spread across the country. God had them close the school in the early 1920s and move to a smaller facility in preparation for their home-going. In 1924 Elim Memorial Church was founded and by 1935 they had sent out over sixty missionaries and the sisters and their faith community had given over $100,000 to missions. Christ was their all for body, soul, and spirit. Susan never married and died on October 1, 1935.


Educational costs, tuition fees, and education finances concept, applying for scholarship background.

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