Early Methodist Women
Methodist women have always been a powerful and integral part of the church body. They have always been interested in spiritual growth and fellowship for women, missions, and the welfare of women and children. At first was an unorganized, loosely knit group of women that assisted the pastors. The records we have of organized women's groups begin November 22, 1882. Called the Ladies Aid Society, their first recorded meeting was in the Third Street church, and their first task was to develop and approve a constitution, shown at the right.
In May of 1883, a chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was formed, led primarily by women of our church. They believed that God provides water as a natural drink for “man and beast”, and that alcohol is a poison. Their doxology was:
“Praise God, from who all blessings flow,
Praise God, who heals the drunkard’s woe,
Praise God, who leads the temperance host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”
We have all enjoyed the annual “Snowflake Bazaar”, but few realize how old this tradition is. In the minutes for November 21, 1883, there is this entry:“It was decided to have a “Fair” just before the Holidays, & work for the same was commenced.”
In 1887 there were about a dozen women attending meetings in homes or the church parlor. They did hand work for missions or had a study. Money was raised from mite boxes. dues, box socials, teas, rummage sales and bazaars. They canned pears and plums for Gum Moon home in San Francisco and for the Deaconess's home. They also sent rag rugs and comforters to Gum Moon. They bought furniture and other things for the parsonage and took care of needy families in Santa Rosa.
By 1914 there were 49 members. That year they spent $52 on missions. Those supported were Indians in Covelo, Jessie Lee Home in Alaska, Italian Friends Center and Gum Moon in San Francisco, Ellen Stark Home and Fred Finch Home. They sent $5 to Beulah Home in Oakland for fruit trees and a vegetable garden. Study topics mentioned were Moslem Women, India, drug and narcotic problems and labor problems. Due to the flu epidemic, there were no meetings from September 1918 to February 1919.
Some things never change! Stuck in the book of minutes for the 1880’s was a handwritten note: “Gone to the Ladies Aid. Lock the back door and shut the lattice.”