Women's Sewing Society
Written by Miss Helen Tjernlund - 1954
Professor Adolph Olson in his book "A Centenary History" says, "The history of every church is rich with incidents concerning the sacrificial labor and missionary vision and practical service of women. In most churches it is the women who are active in looking after the needs of the local church and have the greatest interest in sending the gospel to the ends of the earth. A small sewing circle of group of women would meet regularly for a time of devotion Bible study and practical work and that is the way your missionary society began. We are celebrating today the 70th year of our church. Our Mission Circle has held various historical celebrations in the past, the Ruby Centennial in 1926 in our new Church Home, the 50th, 60th and so on.
June 23, 1886, two years after our church was organized, a women's sewing society was formed. Articles were made and sold to help with the church finances. They also prayed and studied missions.
April 13, 1898 another woman's organization was formed , known as the Swedish Baptist Scandinavian Mission Society with eleven members. It had for it's purpose to work for the Lord and His glory...the spiritual growth of the members and a greater interest in missions...to gather money for both home and foreign missions.
December 7, 1910 these two organizations combined into our present Mission Circle. Today, (when this was written), we have two charter members living; Mrs. Mihnos and Mrs. Bremer. The membership is 119.
January 14, 1932 all the records were written in Swedish prior to this date. After this the English language was used.
The very early meetings were held in the old church but later on until about 1918-1920 almost entirely in members' homes. Nearly all the ladies entertained the Circle at some time or other and it was a great event. How they accommodated them all is a mystery. Today we would throw up our hands in dismay.
I have found:
1901 six meetings were held with 22 members and $25.00 was given to missions.
1905, Mrs. Bremer held the meeting at her home and there were 32 members and 25 present. $33.00 was received with $31.00 designated for missions.
1913, Mrs. Ryberg entertained 56 members
1915, seventy-one members were present
1916, July 12, a letter from Mrs. Milton was read inviting the Mission Circle to hold the August meeting in her home in Cherry Grove.
1917, Mrs. Albin Rydman had 55 present in her home
and so on; the Dahlgrens, Hallgrens, Salstroms, Tjernlunds, and so on.
I'm sure the members enjoyed going to the various homes and days before the Circle meeting was a general house cleaning and baking bee of unexcelled Swedish coffee bread, pepparkakor and fattigman's bakelser of the entertaining hostess. The house was filled with an aroma of sugar, spice and everything nice. How fortunate the youngsters in those homes were when allowed to bring home from school some close friend to share in the refreshments mother had prepared for the Lord's ladies.
Where did the ladies find places to sit? Oh, on ironing boards placed over apple crates, and such make shift seats. The atmosphere was warm, friendly and a bit of Heaven was there. Hospitality was personified even though the members might be poor.
Today it is far more convenient to meet in our lovely a church home. How happy we are to have this Temple. We still have the good refreshment served by several ladies each month and happy fellowship.
Finances: Rev. Olsson also quotes a minister as saying on the completion of the building of a certain church, "God and the Ladies Aid built the church." We say, "God bless our ladies for the help they have given this church."
Back in 1910, the dues were 10 cents a month but not compulsory. In 1925, it was suggested that the dues be 25 cents but no action taken. Today they are 50 cents a month.
Money was raised also by making quilts, selling scripture calendars, etc. In 1928, twenty-eight food sales were held, one silver tea, and one lunch netting some $486.71.
In 1929, our General Conference met in Portland and then how the ladies worked, serving all the meals. They took in $1,352.39, clearing a net profit of $527.39. At that time the A. B. Carlson's furnished free strawberries as did the Haley church.
Projects: At first our work was closely affiliated with that of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, We contributed to the Italian and Chinese Baptist work in Portland and to the building of the Missionary Baptist Training School in Chicago. It was the first school in the world to be established for the training of missionaries. City, district and State Baptist Conventions were attended. Today we have our own Conference work. Help was given the poor and needy in the way of food and clothing.
In 1932 the women's department of our General Conference was launched and in 1945 the Women's Conference was changed to the Board of Women's Work.
Some of our projects are: The Canadian Mission Rose, Girl's Missionary Guild, Gift a Meal, White Cross projects and the hospital in Assam. This year, reading programs, World Relief and help support missionary Johnson.
During World War I and II we helped in Red Cross work and sent Christmas boxes for men in the service, serving food at the Christians Men's Center each month at a cost of:
How the GI's and their mothers appreciated your work. Other projects included giving money to Josephine Neil, Western Baptist Seminary, Union Gospel Missions, the Klingberg Orphanages. Helping form the Oregon Baptist Retirement Home Ladies Auxiliary.
Much of the furniture in this church was purchased by the ladies. They helped with the parsonage fund, Vanport and the Vancouver Mission (B. C.).
We have served meals at church dinners and conferences, housing delegates and visitors, cleaning the church and reminding men of necessary repairs. Oh, yes, they have been everlasting at it!
In 1917, Miss Gustafson (Flavia Westerlund) sang a solo as did Miss Gerda Brask (Mrs. F.G. Salstrom).
How much we are indebted to those who have gone before, the former officers and members who have had a vision of the need both here locally and in our land and abroad. We should offer prayers of gratitude and praise because of their willingness to serve and be spent in the Lord's ministry.
And to all our pastors and their wives who in the past have been a help and a blessing to the members and especially to Dr. and Mrs. Linus Johnson for their concern and interest in the work.
"Ladies...you've been grand...keep it up, Maybe we do not think we accomplish much in a year but it all counts, It is not the greatness of our work but our faithfulness. If we attempt great things for Him we can expect great things from Him which we have.
Let's continue to help in this wonderful
Article written by Miss Helen Tjernlund.
Return to Church History 1886