Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

09 November, 2011

A TRIBUTE TO CHURCH LADIES PAST AND PRESENT

I have received a special request to re-produce one of my earliest posts on Wrights Lane.  "The Church Ladies" was/is one of my favorite subjects, but unfortunately Google inadvertently wiped it out of my archives along with 33 other posts, about three years ago.  I wanted to use "The Church Ladies" item in my book Wrights Lane...Come On In and ended up having to rewrite the story from memory.  Here is the re-worked version, with the addition of a few photographs  from the 1950-70 period that will suitably compliment the story. 
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My mother Grace, seated, with IODE friends (from the left) Betty Spearman, Dorothy Rigsby and Isabele Wismer at an IODE meeting in London.  Circa 1970s.

I have fond memories of my early exposure to  the wonderful 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 communities and their churches across our nation.

At a very early age, I came to realize what women of the church really stood for, be they auxiliaries, societies, ladies aid or missionary groups.  The Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) was an all-inclusive group in my hometown of Dresden, bringing together women from all churches, and continues as well to have a special place in my heart to this day.

In the early 1940s, I remember very clearly being relegated to my upstairs bedroom on evenings when my mother hosted church group meetings and gatherings of the IODE.  I would curl up on the floor with my ear cupped to the metal grate that allowed warm air from downstairs to circulate to the unheated upper floor level.  I would listen to what was transpiring in the parlour and living room below -- the prayers, God Save the Queen, hymns, committee reports, updates on care packages and those coarse woolen khaki socks and mitts so lovingly knit by the ladies for the troops ("our boys") overseas in World War Two.  Of course, there would always be at least one fund-raising program on the agenda to help bolster organization and church coffers.

I was able to put a face to every voice that came up through that dusty grate and I was fascinated by what was being said and who was saying it:  Several school teachers, the banker's wife, a nurse, my Aunt Hattie, several of my best friends' mothers, a druggist's wife, a farm lady who delivered eggs to us every Thursday, a choir leader with her unmistakable laugh, a minister's wife with her quiet voice of reason, occasionally my mother -- the collective face and voice of mission and outreach in churches and communities small and large, around the globe.

Looking back now, maybe I was hard-pressed for entertainment.  Maybe I was just curious -- maybe a combination of the two.  Remember that there were no televisions, i-pads, computers or cell phones in kids' bedrooms in those day.  Certainly, it was a different era and I am glad that I was brought up in it.  At that impressionable age I came to understand how the efforts of a small group of women in small-town Southwestern Ontario, could have such a far-reaching impact.

With the impression of the grate well embedded in my cheek, I would generally drift off to sleep just as tea cups began to tinkle amidst the soft din 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, several of the ladies would always see to it.  I was warm and secure.  God was in Heaven and "The Church Lades" had everything under control.

Fond memories all, and an appreciation for the work that church women and organizations like the IODE 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 is hearing.

IODE members always had a special birthday gift for seniors in Dresden area nursing homes.  Accompanying my mother for this presentation was IODE member Doris Dusten (right).



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