...consistently the backbone of all congregations
Several reports and names from the past recently came to my attention, bringing back memories of my early exposure to the work of "women of the church". Regardless of denomination, the faithfulness and commitment of women's organizations have, without question, been the life blood of all churches.
At a very early age I came to realize what "women of the church" really stood for, be they auxiliaries, societies, ladies aid, missionary groups -- whatever. I remember very clearly being relegated to my upstairs bedroom on the evenings when my mother hosted church group meetings. I would curl up on the floor with my ear cupped to the grate that allowed air from downstairs to circulate to the upper floor level. I would listen to what was transpiring in the parlour and living room below -- the prayers, the hymns, the committee reports, the updates on care packages and those coarse khaki wool socks and mitts lovingly knit by the ladies for the troops, "our boys", overseas. Of course there would always be at least one fund-raising program on the agenda to help bolster church coffers.
I was able to put a face to every voice that came up through the grate and I was fascinated by what was being said and who was saying it:
A school teacher,
the banker's wife,
a public health nurse,
my Aunt Hattie,
my best friend's mother,
a farm lady who delivered eggs to us every Thursday,
our choir leader with her unmistakable laugh,
the minister's wife with her quiet voice of reason,
occasionally, my mother;
the collective face and voice of mission and outreach in churches, small and large, around the globe to this day.
Looking back now, maybe I was hard pressed for entertainment. Maybe I was just curious. Remember that there were no televisions, computers or cell phones in kids' bedrooms in those days. Certainly, it was a different era and I am glad that I was exposed to it. At that impressionable age I came to understand how the efforts of a small group of women could reach around the world.
I would generally drift off to sleep just as tea cups began to tinkle amidst the hum of female conversation at the conclusion of the business portion of the meetings. All was right with my world. I could depend that there would be leftover peanut butter cookies and at least one date square put aside for me next day...Mrs. McFadden would see to it. I was warm, I was secure, God was in Heaven and "The Church Ladies" had everything under control.
Fond memories all, and an appreciation for the work that church women have continued over the decades with much dedication and little fanfare. I dare say that there are no inquisitive little boys eavesdropping on meetings these days, but it goes without saying that God has an ear to His Heavenly "grate" and He blesses all church women for what He hears.