The United Church Women of Zion United Church of Moose Jaw
Every story has a beginning. In 1961 The United Church of Canada General Council authorized a new women’s organization to begin on January 1, 1962 and to be called ‘United Church Women’. It was founded by the amalgamation of the two former women’s groups: Women’s Missionary Society (WMS), which was a world mission-oriented service and study group, and the Woman’s Association (WA) which worked in the local congregation.
The purpose of this newly -chartered UCW was “To unite women of the congregation for the total mission of the church, and to be a means by which they may express their loyalty and devotion to Jesus Christ in Witness, Study, Fellowship and Service. “
Zion UCW held a charter members’ tea on Thursday, January 11, 1962 at which time ladies were invited to select which of the fifteen temporary ‘Units’ they wished to join. Membership was 50 cents. The charter executive was: President – Mrs. Dora Crozier; Vice Presidents – Mrs. C.A. Cave, Mrs. C. Perks, Mrs. S.G. Sutherland; Recording Secretary – Mrs. C. Zryd; Corresponding Secretary – Mrs. H. Bowes ; Treasurer – Mrs. J.M. Robinson . Ministerial staff at the time was Rev. Dr. Bill Clarke, Rev. Aubrey Ingram and Rev. Lloyd Boey.
Dr. Clarke helped organize a Sunday morning UCW Inaugural Church Service. He phoned the local newspaper to have it included in the Sunday church service announcement. When the paper was delivered on Saturday, the congregation was some surprised to read about “An All-girl Service” and when Dr. Clarke took his usual place at the pulpit on Sunday morning, there was a good deal of friendly chuckling and laughter and asking what he was doing there.
In 1965, Zion’s UCW Annual Report showed that the membership of 218 members had jelled into eleven units supported by a UCW executive. During that year they raised over $8000.00 with offerings and catering, teas and rummage sales, turkey suppers and a huge bazaar. Their dedicated work took them in many directions such as providing appreciation dinners and suppers to various church and other groups, regularly visiting at Ina Grafton Gage Home, and just as regularly entertaining and visiting at the Training School. They sponsored a student from Ghana to study medicine at the University of Saskatchewan; they attended the hospital cart every Friday; they made 2200 visits to shut-ins and those in hospital, and regularly placed flowers in and decorated the sanctuary. They placed a rose in the pulpit to honor newborns, packed 323 pounds of good used clothing for First Nations’ Reserves, and 77 pounds of nylons for Korea. They sponsored a ‘Mothers’ Morning Out’ group (which meant baby –sitting) while the young mothers enjoyed coffee together. They controlled all the comings and goings in the kitchen and were a force to be reckoned with! The kitchen door was under lock and key, and the location of the key was known to only a select few.
Through the years UCW has played a vital part in Zion’s life. Probably one of the biggest projects was the money-raising smorgasbord by the Jubilee Unit for the Ghanaian student. It was a monstrous event and wonderfully successful. In the kitchen at one crucial point, a huge pot of spaghetti needed stirring and the only piece of equipment that could be quickly found was a broom. UCW’ers jaws dropped when the visiting chef grabbed the broom handle and got the job done.
The annual bazaar, tea and bake sale was huge and successful. The bazaar items were endless, as were the sandwiches and cakes and hats and gloves. The November 1969 event recorded an attendance of six hundred.
In 1982, there were seven units with an active membership of 143. In addition to many of the earlier commitments, they assisted at Transition House, collected stamps for Leprosy Mission, supported Mental Health, Indian Church Leadership Education Fund, Camp Capernaum, Prairie Christian Training Centre, and supported a child through the Foster Parents Plan.
In January, 2003, Zion General UCW was disbanded and the one remaining unit, Jubilee, continued on as ‘Zion Jubilee’. The Treasurer’s annual report showed $13,155.00 in receipts and included at least ten donations to mission projects, always a high priority with the original Jubilee Unit.
The year 2010 showed a rapid decline in membership and funds, but the spirit of UCW continues. Today, with the membership enhanced by the addition of UCW ladies from Grandview United Church following its’ closing, our Zion UCW makes financial donations, visits care homes, takes an active part in church projects, and shares a special friendship and commitment.
UCW marked its’ 55th Anniversary in 2017. Special mention of charter members Joanne Phillips and Verna Zimmerman, who have worked so diligently through the years, and still have UCW at heart, were present at the special gathering. So many other names, in addition to all the aforementioned, come to mind. Who will ever forget the dedication of Kay Owens, Grace Cave, Joan Bidwell, Avis Clarke, Joyce Clarke, Laila Bray, Lucy Dennis, Beth Ames, Olive Coupland, Jeannette Dow, Addie Hughes, Marie Gardner, Pauline Sargeant, Norma McLafferty, Helen Patterson, Chris Stephenson, Gladys Towriss, Joyce Young? The list goes on and on – so many wonderful women -so many memories.
As of January 1, 2019, UCW is no longer part of the re-structuring of the United Church of Canada and was replaced by ‘Women’s Network’. Local churches can continue to function as independent organizations, and many do. Congratulations to the UCW of Zion United Church for their continued dedication and loyalty to a rich heritage.
Submitted by Ruth Sutherland