Nov 242014

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523/1 Records of the Conference Woman’s Association

Title: Administrative Records of the Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario

Series: 523/1 Records of the Manitoba Conference Woman’s Association

Dates:  1946 – 1962

Extent:  1 m  textual records and other materials

Finding Aid: The Finding Aid (see pdf version for full details) includes File Description and Box Lists.

Historic Note

The United Church Woman’s Associations came into being soon after union as an organisation for women who wanted to work for the Church at the congregational level. The Woman’s Association (WA) was a successor to the various social and benevolent women’s groups of the uniting churches such as the Methodist and Presbyterian Ladies Aid, Sewing Circles and Guilds, and Willing Workers. These groups undertook tasks that ranged from organising fowl suppers, concerts and ice cream socials through teaching Sunday School and knitting socks to furnishing the manse. According to ‘A Handbook for the Local Woman’s Association’ the aim and object of the Woman’s Association of The United Church of Canada was to deepen the spiritual life of the women of the Church; to develop a programme of Christian fellowship and service, personal evangelism and stewardship; [and] to inspire the women of the church to an increasing knowledge of, interest in, and loyalty to the program of the Church. The aim and object of the local WA added to accept larger responsibility in the life, work and witness of the congregation and the Church at large by assisting the Church School in the programme of Christian Education for children, youth and young people; by providing funds for local church purposes through voluntary givings, through use of talents, and, if advisable through money raising projects; by having general oversight of the furnishings of the manse or parsonage; …[and] to assist in the social welfare work of the congregation.

The WA did not, however, have a larger organisational structure until 1940 when the WA Dominion Council was formed at the national level. The Manitoba Conference WA did not come into being until three Presbytery Woman’s Associations had been formed. This occurred in 1950 when Woman’s Associations had been formed in the Presbyteries of Winnipeg (1947), Brandon (1949) and Rock Lake (1950) and an Interim Committee for Conference was set up. The Conference Woman’s Association was formally organised in October 1951 and the inaugural meeting was held at Young United in June 1952. WA representatives served on the Conference Home Missions, Christian Education, Auxiliary (supporting girls for full time service in the church), Literature Depot, Fresh Air Camps and Senior Citizens Homes Committees as well as special committees such as the [Conference] Committee on Indian Work in existence from 1954 to 1956. All levels of WA were strongly encouraged to support the Christian Education initiatives of the Church. Conference WA also sent representatives to many ecumenical organisations including the Citizenship Council, the Welfare Council of Greater Winnipeg, the John Howard and Elizabeth Fry Societies, the Manitoba Branch of the Canadian Association of Consumers and the Provincial Council of Women. Manitoba Conference WA Leadership Camps were held at Clear Lake from 1952-1956 and at the Prairie Christian Training Centre from 1957-1961.

The WMS and the WA co-operated on many levels. Some congregational Woman’s Associations were affiliated with the WMS and as a result would have two or three programs a year that dealt with missionary topics. They were also asked to send a monetary gift to the Presbyterial WMS although there was no formal allocation. The President of the WA that affiliated with the WMS was a voting member of the Presbyterial WA as well as the Presbyterial WMS. In some congregations the WA and the auxiliary of the WMS united to form a Woman’s Federation and the functions of each part were combined in the federation. Every member was a member of the WA and the WMS. The Manitoba Conference Co-operating Committee WMS and WA consisted of three members from each organisation and functioned to promote co-ordination in matters of common interest such as a response to the Bracken Liquor Report. In 1956 the WA responded to a special appeal to send a First Nations woman from Norway House for religious training in Phoenix, Arizona. The enthusiastic response encouraged the formation of a Bursary Fund for continued help with leadership training expenses for promising candidates for full or part time work in the church. The Manitoba Conference WA Bursary Fund was set up at the Conference WA Annual Meeting in 1958. Conference UCW carried on the work of the Bursary Committee after 1962. The WA was dissolved in 1962 as part of the restructuring process that led to the creation of the United Church Women as the sole group for women in the United Church.

The Executive officers of the Manitoba Conference WA included the President, four Vice-Presidents, the Recording and Corresponding Secretaries, the Treasurer and the Presbytery WA Organiser. Manitoba Conference WA Presidents during the period covered by these records were Mrs. K.A. Moyer, 1951-1953; Mrs. T. Spencer, 1953-1955; Mrs. E.J. Sward, 1955-1957; Mrs. H. Dodd, 1957-1959; Mrs. D.L. Holtzman, 1959-1961; and Mrs. D. M. McLean, 1961-1962.

Scope and Content

Surviving records of the Manitoba Conference WA described as part of this series include Minutes, 1951-1962; Reports, 1956-1957; Annual Meeting Policy Motions/Minutes, 1950-1960; Annual Meeting Programs, 1952-1961; Annual Meeting Materials, 1961; records pertaining to the Committee on Co-operation with Christian Education, [195-]; records pertaining to the Study of Women’s Work in the Church, 1956-1960; Yearbooks, 1955-1961; Lists of Names and Addresses, 1958-1961; Books and Pamphlets, 1946-[196-]; a Scrapbook of Manitoba Conference WA Activities, 1957-1961; Clippings, [195-]; Reports presented at the Annual Meetings of the Dominion Council of the WA, 1957, 1959, 1961; and the Bulletin, 1958-1961.

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