Saturday, December 09, 2006

This Week in Texas Methodist History December 10

Texas Conference Woman's Foreign Missionary Society Formed in Flatonia--Dec. 11, 1880

The 1878 General Conference of the MECS authorized the establishment of a new organization, the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society. The WFMS was empowered to raise funds and send women into the foreign mission field. One of the provisions of the enabling resolution in 1878 was that when an annual conference had three local church chapters of the WFMS, it could form a conference Society. The Texas Conference reached that number in 1880, and on December 11, 1880, delegates from the three churches, Brenham, Chappell Hill, and Flatonia, met in Flatonia and organized the Texas Conference Woman's Foreign Missionary Society. One of the founders was Mrs. Patience Wilson Alexander, second wife of Rev. Robert Alexander of Chappell Hill.

The organization grew quickly. One year later, December 1881, the WFMS met in Houston. Two women volunteered for missionary service. Rebecca Toland went on to Cuba where she worked for more than forty years. Annie Williams volunteered for service in Mexico. She eventually married another missionary and served as part of a missionary team.

In 1890 the General Conference authorized a Woman's Home Missionary and Parsonage Society. That organization's main ministry was to the growing immigrant population. In 1910 the two organizations, the Foreign and Home Societies, were combined into the Woman's Missionary Council. The remarkable Belle Harris Bennett headed that combined organization for the first twelve years of its existence.

After the unification of the MEC, MECS, and MP churches, most of the women's organizations were combined under the name Woman's Society of Christian Service. (An exception was the Wesleyan Service Guild, which the MEC had founded for women who worked outside the home in 1921. It remained apart from the WSCS after 1939.)

In 1972, after the merger of the Methodist Church and Evangelical United Brethern Church in 1968, the WSCS and the WSG were combined into a new organization, the United Methodist Women. Even though the name is changed, Texas United Methodist Women can celebrate the 125th anniversary of Rebecca Toland and the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society.


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