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Women’s Groups in Seagrave United Church

Compiled By Eleanor Sturman

The earliest minute books which have been found, of the Women’s Association of Seagrave Church, are dated January 1933; although there is a reference made to visitors present at a meeting, who had been members of the Ladies Aid of Seagrave Church.  The secretary’s report for 1933 showed twelve meetings had been held, mostly in member’s homes, with an average attendance of twenty-one.

Over the years, the format of the meetings remained very similar.  There was a devotional portion, sometimes with a guest speaker, readings, hymns, scripture readings, and frequently, a duet or solo.  The business portion contained plans for fund raising events and support of projects in the church.  The Women’s Association paid for the caretaking and the organist’s salary.  They also contributed to such projects as a furnace or new organs as they were needed.  Sick and bereaved members were sent fruit, flowers, or cards.  Funds were raised through social events such as suppers, plays, and quilting.

 In the 1934 annual report, it is recorded that the parsonage was redecorated; each member contributing 50¢ toward supplies.  An oyster supper was held and in November a fowl supper with geese and chickens.  Monthly dues were raised from 10¢ per meeting to 15¢ in 1935.

 In April 1954, the W.M.S. (Women’s Missionary Society) was begun in Seagrave Church and the focus of this group was to learn more about the work of missionaries in other countries and support their work by making quilts, collecting good used clothing, and financial contributions.

Both of these groups flourished in Seagrave United Church until December 1961, when the United Church of Canada mandated that there be only one organization.  It was to be called the U.C.W. or United Church Women.  Rev. Eustace McNeil chaired a meeting on January 3, 1962 for the purpose of electing officers for the new organization.  Mrs. Ralph Reynolds was elected president, Mrs. Glenn Wanamaker, secretary, and all offices filled.  Later that month the first regular meeting was held.  Nineteen ladies joined that first meeting, but by year’s end there were thirty-six members with an average attendance of thirty at ten regular meetings.  There were three groups which also met monthly and took turns leading the devotional part and providing lunch for the general meetings.  The three groups also shared the work of the fund raising events, of which there were many.

In the new organization, the work of the former W.M.S. was carried on by a supply committee with a special offering collected for the supplies used.  As part of the meeting programme, a portion of a letter sent to us by Lillian Dickson, a missionary we supported, was read.  As well, all the fund raising activities were carried on with catering to weddings, funerals, suppers, and bake sales.  We supported a Formosan teacher, the local hospital auxiliary, made layettes, planned the turkey supper, paid the organist and caretaker, contributed to the upkeep of the parsonage, and most projects in the church.

In February 1965, the former North Group became Unit I and the South and West Groups combined to become Unit II.  The units alternated in leading the general meetings and shared the work of fund raising projects as well as doing some projects individually.

In 1975, it was decided to divide the members into two groups by age, instead of geographical location, as the younger ladies of the U.C.W. had different interests.  Again both units worked on larger projects together, but each had individual ways of raising money.  Travelling suppers, walkathons, dancercize classes as well as various catering, bake sales and auctions were fund raising ideas used by the younger unit.

Member wrote the news columns for the Port Perry Star and organized the Fellowship Sister Night.  Unit I worked very hard providing meals for a movie cast filming a movie in Seagrave and area.

In 1980, Unit II became the Good Neighbours and the U.C.W. became one unit.

Today, the U.C.W. is still in existence but with fewer members and fewer projects.  They organize, with the help of the community, funeral lunches, auction sales, a bazaar at the turkey supper, and a bake table at the yard sale.  They support the Community Nursing Home and projects within the church and community.

The ladies groups of Seagrave United Church have certainly played an important role in the work of the church over these one hundred years.