Open main menu

The Souvenir of Western Women/Woman Workers of the Episcopal Church

< The Souvenir of Western Women

Souvenir of Western Women 0106 Trinity.png

TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, PORTLAND, OREGON (1905)

The Women Workers of the Episcopal Church

By LOUISA A. NASH

THE Episcopal Church could hardly have found its present firm footing in the Pacific Coast States but for the women who helped to pioneer it. Sometimes the clergyman's wife helped with a church school (as in Corvallis, Or.), which was to become the nucleus of a strong church. Latterly, the rector's wife at the All-Saints' Mission, Portland, won the way to the hearts of the people through the kindergarten attached to her own home. Often the little church building has been seen standing in the small country town, awaiting its rector, while its guild of faithful women kept alive the Sunday school for months, and their busy lingers worked to make all things ready against the arrival of an unknown but welcome rector.

Is there a debt hanging over the church, or a deficit for the running expenses, or is there repair needed?—the Woman's Guild is every ready for the emergency. Their inventive genius can always coin money by one method or another.

While $750 (as the figures of Trinity, Portland, show) seems a large sum for a city church, yet in the little country parish $40 or $50 represents the same degree of zeal and diligence.

The Woman's Guild usually confines itself to home help. A bazaar is often the nest egg for a small outlying chapel, when it has to content itself perhaps with but a monthly service. Substantial gifts gladden the local hospitals at Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as at other times.

The "Daughters," sometimes called the "King's Daughters." sometimes after their own particular church, emulate the matrons in their church ministries; and, like them, not scorning the humbler work of cleaning and lighting fires in God's house. They raise money, and they save money by what they gladly do with their own hands. They teach in the mission kindergartens, and start the children's societies in the right direction.

The children, whether called the "Sunbeams," the "Young Helpers" or "Little Workers," piece their quilts, voting, when complete, whether the home hospital, or the half-frozen Alaskan Mission, is to receive them. They are pretty sure to wish the Arctic Mission School to have it, even if it takes six months to reach its destination. Each Christmas the "Juniors" of Seattle (where naturally Alaskan interest is strong) send a box to the Sunday School of Ketchikan. The first child's cot of the Good Samaritan Hospital, Portland, was started in the small Sunday School of Corvallis, about twenty years ago. Every Christmas since the Sunday Schools throughout the state have contributed to this object, and there are now with Bishop Morris' help three or four cots in perpetuity ready to receive the tiny sufferers brought there for treatment. One of the children's societies worked until it had made $30 that a country church might have a bell in its belfry. The children of Grace Church, Astoria, support a scholarship (the Lottie S. Short Memorial) in the Tokio Divinity School, that trains any boy that wishes to become a minister. It is the children of the Sunday Schools that fill the Lenten and family boxes—their Easter offerings for missions amounting to hundreds of dollars in each diocese. From Oregon went $830 last Easter.

The Woman's Auxiliaries, that spread like a network all over our Pacific states, are the most potent factors for mission work, both at home and abroad. Outlying missions often in desolate localities are started and kept alive with its Sunday School, and often its library and reading room. In Portland they have a Chinese Mission for the Chinamen working in the city.

In connection with All Saints Cathedral, Spokane, the Woman 's Auxiliary maintains a working girls' rest room and home as a memorial to Dean Perine, which they hope, under Deaconess Nosier 's efficient guidance will become self-supporting. In this work women of other denominations are now aiding. The women of East Washington have been very broad-minded in working with others in the Lewiston (Idaho) Public Library; likewise for the Yakima Hospital, and keeping up and beautifying the cemetery of Palouse, which had been left a forsaken field. The Church of Dayton, Wash., was largely built by one woman, who had worked hard to earn the money. The important mission to the miners at Coeur d'Alene receives the zealous support of the auxiliaries. In Washington they have pioneered many churches. In the case of Colfax money has been raised for heavy street grading, as well as church repairs, with no rector to encourage their hearts.

From the oldest church school in the diocese. St. Paul's, Walla Walla, mothers are now scattered all over the Northwest. Wherever they are, the.v are found to be loyal workers for their beloved church. In connection with St. Paul's, as with the "Annie Wright Seminary," the name of Mrs. Wells, as Miss Garretson, will be ever lovingly remembered. When the wife of the bishop, she was principal to St. Mary's (now Bronot Hall). For twentyfive years she worked untiringly for the advancement of young women.

St. Luke's Hospital at Spokane was started and maintained for years by the church women. As for the Portland "Good Samaritan," for years the only Protestant Hospital on the Pacific Coast (which now ranks the third largest this side of Chicago), Bishop Morris says: "But for the women there never could have been a hospital at all."

Idaho, with its three large Indian Reservations, Wind River, Fort Hall and Lemhi, naturally expends much interest on its Indians. The national church has sent clergymen, and the local auxiliaries "do all in their power to lead them to better things—these people, still ignorant and savage in great measure, who led the first white men over the mountains, and prepared the way for so many Christian homes." Bishop Funston writes further of his charge of the mission to the Shoshones, the friends of the great explorers. He says: "A boy of 16, who was, it is considered, with the party, and afterwards called 'Old Ocean,' died at a great age, not so very long ago, at the Fort Hall Reservation. It is part of our woman's work to help these Indians to a knowledge of Jesus .Christ. The Rev. St. Michael Fackler came from Oregon in 1864 and established the first church, which is still standing at Boise City. He formed the first Woman's Guild, the forerunner of our auxiliaries. Strange to say, some of its most important members are still our most active workers in promoting the good cause among Indians and whites, and also in forming and encouraging like societies all over the inter-mountain region."

The Woman's Auxiliary reaches out its hands to the ends of the earth, helping remote mission stations. Gift boxes, that find room for dolls and toys, are sent to Alaskan missions, visited by steamboats but once or twice a year. As is natural to its proximity, Western Washington shows great interest in this. The auxiliaries of Seattle and Tacoma sew with deft fingers for the mission boxes, containing, besides other things, drugs and books. New mining camps, such as Tanana, etc., are not forgotten.

Oregon sends useful reading matter to the soldiers at Manila; to the seamen on the broad ocean; to small reading rooms, as an antidote to the saloon; and to lonely ranch men, starving for mental food. The Grace Church Auxiliary of Astoria supports a Bible woman in China, who goes amongst the women where no one else could have access. The Sisters of St. Helen's Hall aid the Chinese Mission of Portland, and many help with their presence and talents at the Seamen's Institute. Oregon supports a scholarship in the Beaufort (colored) School of North Carolina and in St. Mary's Hall, Shanghai, where 120 native girls are educated. Eastern Washington supports two in the latter place.

The women of Boise City have been very active in work for the St. Luke's Hospital of their city, and have made much pioneer effort throughout their sparsely settled diocese.

Besides all the local and individual activity, the auxiliaries of the four dioceses subscribe about $800 annually for the general mission fund of the church. They never forget either to put by for the "united offering" that is laid on the altar at each triennial convention. This offering amounted this year in Boston to the sum of $150,000, of which our four dioceses bore their own noble part. No wonder the following resolution was passed with unanimous warmth:

"Resolved, That we heartily approve the suggestion made by one of the delegates at yesterday's missionary meeting (October 20) that, in view of the magnificent work of church women, including the raising of $150,000 by the Woman's Auxiliary, the Episcopal Church work should be hereafter carried on by men and women working together and not in separate divisions."