In 1869 the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society (W.F.M.S.) was formed in the Northern M.E. and in the South in 1878. The work was officially recognized by the churches in 1890. Ladies Aid was first recognized in the 1903 Discipline. In 1910, the Women's Home Missionary Society (W.H.M.S.)and the W.F.M.S. theoretically merged but apparently some churches continued to hold the patterns established. In 1921, the Wesleyan Service Guild (WSG) was created for women employed outside the home. In 1939, all groups united to form the Woman's Society of Christian Service (W.S.C.S.) but the WSG remained separate and then in 1968 all united to form a united W.S.C.S. until 1972 when they came under the new title and structure of the new United Methodist Women (U.M.W.).
First Women’s Groups at Wesley
Ladies Aid was first recognized in the 1903 Discipline of the M.E. Church and had continued to grow. The first women’s organization of Wesley was a Ladies Aid Society established in March of 1911 with Mrs. A.C. McCullough as first president (1911-1913). The next month saw the birth of the local Women’s Home Missionary Society and that September the Women’s Foreign Mission Society at the home of Mrs. Pritchard on NW 29th Street. In 1926 the Wesleyan Service Guild was established, in 1929 the original to Wesley group, “Sorrelle”, was established, then in 1939 the Woman’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS) and in 1972 the United Methodist Women united all but the Sorelle Club under one umbrella.
Snapshot of 1940 at Wesley
|Proposed History of the Women|
In 1940 a church yearbook and directory listed the “Ladies Aid Society” had an object “To promote the financial, social, and spiritual welfare of the church”. Ladies were members of ten circles that met around the community on the third Tuesday of the month. Their calendar was from September to June and covered topics of loyalty (September), events such as the “70 and Over” Luncheon” (October), Thanksgiving and a Father-Son Banquet (November), Christmas (January) and Prayer and Lent taking up the first two months of the New Year. The Lent event would be an Organ Fund Concert. Easter (March) in April “The Women’s Work Old Fashioned Dinner”, while May saw a May Day Breakfast, Mother-Daughter Banquet and election of Officers. These were installed in a June program before the group took off the month of July.
“Women’s Foreign Missionary Society”. In 1869 the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society was formed in the Northern M.E. and in the south in 1878. The work was officially recognized by the churches in 1890. It formed in the spring of 1911 and the first president was Mrs. D.G. Murray (1912-1913). In 1940, at Wesley, the group motto was “Saved for Service”, their theme “One Heart, One Way”, their guiding hum was “Brotherhood” (noted as 469 in the Hymnal). Their study text was “Woman and the Way” and their aims were “Study-Service-Sacrifice”. They met every second Tuesday of the month at 1-2 p.m.
The “Women’s Home Missionary Society” motto was “For the Love of Christ and in His Name” and their aim was to “Help Win America for Christ.” The group had formed at Wesley in the spring of 1911 and the first president was Mrs. R.W. Sprigg (1911-1913). They listed in 1940 that that their agencies included 940 Missionaries and Deaconesses serving in 180 institutions in 40 states, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Their official magazines were “Woman’s Home Missions” and “Junior Neighbors”. The theme for the year was to be “With One Increasing Purpose” and their textbook was to be “Homeland Harvest” by Dr. Arthur Limouze and “Right Here at Home” by Frank Mead. The organization was organized into ten groups with Officers, Department Secretaries (Spiritual Life, Christian Citizenship, Thank Offering, Missionary Education, Mite Box, Lenten Offering), supplies, Chorister, Pianist, and Young People Work (College, High School, Intermediate Department, Junior Department, Primary Department, Mothers Jewels).
In 1940 were also listed the “Wesleyan Service Guild” whose motto was to “The World – To Serve”. Its goals were “Enrichment of spiritual life, Practice in World brotherhood, Development of Christian Citizenship, Guidance in the Highest Use of Leisure”. They had several service projects including a home mission through Leisenring Center, Dunbar, PA; migrant work; Navajo Mission School, Farmington, NM.
Their textbook for 1940 was “Through Tragedy to Triumph” by Basil Mathews. The group met the second Tuesday in member homes and had officers covering various projects (President, Recording secretary, correspondence secretary, treasurer, spiritual department chair, world service chair, social and recreational chair, mite box secretary)
The WSG had formed in 1926 under the guidance of Maude Thomas Wolf and existed until the merger of women’s groups in 1973.
At Wesley there was also the “Sorelle Club”. It was organized in the church parlor in 1929 by Frances Wahl McAlister (Mrs. Wade), Mildred Robinett (Roscoe) and Sarah Paul Potts (Mrs. Ruhl). Charter members were: Deborah Heep Lower (Mrs. Paul), Iris Jenkins Miller (Mrs. Lewis), Hazel Ruedy Hornung (Mrs. Gerald ), Naomi Doty Matheney (Mrs. Jesse), Jessie Gowen Fuller (Mrs. Guy Edward), Thelma Varvel McCreight (Mrs. Warren), Mrs. Theresa Cranfield, Mrs. Cora Hayward, Thelma Carr (Mrs. Harold), Velda Marks (Mrs. karl), Betty Salmmon (Mrs. Herbert), Margaret Ireland (Mrs. “Brick”), Birdie Lasater (Mrs. Frenchie), Rilla Warner (Mrs. Judd), and Thelma Saxon Baker (Mrs. Marion).
It was organized by newlyweds and young mothers who wanted church activities and fellowship different than the Circles then offered at the church. The first presidents were: Frances McAlister. Mildred Robinett, Sarah Potts, and Thelma McCreight.
The name was submitted by a committee of organizers and means “sister.” It was reorganized in 1938 by Mrs. Hugh B. Fouke, wife of the pastor, into a spiritual, educational, and social club with meetings held in the parsonage parlor.
In 1940, they reflected that new threefold purpose “spiritual, educational and social.” It was noted they used the “panel method” for their discussions and programs. They met the third Thursday at 12:30 in the Wesley Church parlor. The officers included a Counselor (the pastor’s wife in 1940), chairman, program committee, hostess chairman, secretary and treasurer, telephone chairman
The Woman’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS) was formed in 1939 as a result of the merger between the M.E., North, the M.E., South and the Methodist Protestant churches to form the Methodist Church. The first president at Wesley was Mrs. Joe Morgan (Ione) (1939-1940).