Ladies Aid and Missionary Society History

By Mrs. Jeanette Benjamin.


        

                               Ladies Aid and Missionary Society History

                                             1837-1987

     The year was 1896.  In the well established church at Willseyville the ladies of the 
congregation recognized needs going unfilled.  The feminists met on several occasions to discuss 
those matters.  The result was the birth of the Ladies Aid Society complete with constitution.

     The fledgling Society quickly went to work packing boxes with essential dry goods for home 
use to be used locally and abroad.  The quilted, bought fire wood for church heating, purchased 
song books and collected items for the Sunshine Fund and Birthday box including money gifts.  
In addition they helped White Cross make up first aid materials.  On a short term basis they 
would adopt a family that was extremely needy.  The work of their hands went as far as Hungary, 
Russia, and the Philippines.

     As one might expect by the name, membership was restricted to ladies 15 years of age and up.  
Associate memberships were granted to the gentlemen some years later.  But, the running of the 
organization and the conducting of business rested in the hands of the women.  Monies for 
operation were generated through a membership fee ($.25) monthly dues ($.05) and 
contributions.

     Meetings were held monthly at a member’s home.  A typical meeting found the gathering 
singing, praying, reading the Word, conducting business and working on one of the many 
projects undertaken.

     The minutes for November 1945 carried this amusing yet felicitous note, "Pastor Cline read
another portion of the book, Papa Was A Preacher.  We are enjoying it very much."


     The success of the Ladies Aid Society prompted the church to consider reaching into the 
world through missions and missions related works.  Under Pastor Wallace Stevens and his wife 
Gertrude’s leadership the church gave birth to the Gertrude Stevens Missionary Society in 1940.

     By May of 1952 the Society was functioning well enough that the Ladies Aid Society was 
disbanded.  The ladies then joined the mission society where several of its purposes were still 
being realized.

     Membership in the new society was open to both men and women.  The holding of office and 
voting privileges however was limited to those 21 years of age and over.

     Activities of the new society included the sending of relief kits around the world, writing 
local servicemen away on active duty, keeping in touch with former members moved away, shut-ins, 
giving to special needs at home and abroad, contributing regularly to missionaries and mission 
works and aiding the White Cross in their work.  On occasion visiting missionaries were heard 
and entertained.

     The annual report for 1942 gave the figure of $25.00, "sent as our Mission Quota."  the 
minutes add, "all of this money was obtained by voluntary contributions."  By 1947-48 five years 
later giving rose to $185.35 or better than 7 times the original "quota."  Today the budget is 
$2,750.  On October 16, 1945 the young society took on its first annual financial responsibility.  
Each December it would send $5.00 to the American Bible Society.  In late 1946 mission 
envelopes were employed for systematic giving.  Then in the Spring of 1951 Miss Gladys Jones 
was pledged $108.00 annual support.  Today the society sends support to eight missionaries and 
four mission type works.

     Attendance at meetings fluctuated over the years.  Sometimes there were but six.  At other 
times as many as twenty-five answered to roll call.  Three meetings were always well attended, 
the annual picnic in July, the Thanksgiving program, and the Christmas party.

     The following note from the minutes of 1942 - the Second War era - on attendance is of 
inspiration.

          "…we have tried to continue our work as well as possible and have
          kept a close union with our Savior at all our meetings."

Secretary,

Mrs. Alice Cook

     On the other hand attendance at the Christmas party 1950, post war era was reported as
     "…an excellent attendance."  the following people took part.

     Scripture Reading and Comment          - Rev. Cline

     Recitation                                              - Audrey Oltz

     A Letter                                                 - Mrs. Pichany
 
     Piano Solo                                             - Marjorie Cook

     The Youngest Shepherd                        - Alice Cook

     Baritone and Trombone Duet                - Robert and Ronald Kellogg

     Solo                                                        - Betty Neal

     Recitation                                              - Richard Oltz

     Trumpet Solo                                        - Bernice Manning

     Solo                                                       - Dixie Manning

     Duet                                                       -  Rev. and Mrs. Cline


     Incidentally, the Gertrude Missionary society celebrates its 35th year, 1952-1987.

     As the society heads into the next decade it pauses to thank God for His faithfulness.  Not    
once has she faulted in her commitments to the missionaries.  This was possible because the 
society was KEPT BY THE POWER OF GOD.


                                                                                                                
Mrs. Jeanette Benjamin   

Ladies Aid and Missionary
                                                                                                
Society Historian





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Ernie Miles